Redemption and why it pays to compromise

When leaders misjudge the mood of the public, repentance can help, and so can pilgrimage. July 12th, 1174, and the crowds have gathered to watch a spectacle. The King is dressed in sackcloth and is making his barefooted way from St Dunstan’s Church through Canterbury, to the crypt of St Thomas Becket. Here he is … Continue reading Redemption and why it pays to compromise

Dreams of Liberation

Lying in his prison cell, Pandit Nehru dreamt of liberation for India and imagined a new secular age which would cast superstition aside to allow this ancient civilisation to embrace modernity, with all the freedoms that promised. During his many periods of incarceration he wrote extensively to his daughter about his love of India and … Continue reading Dreams of Liberation

Pilgrim for a Day

While many pilgrimages are epic in distance and duration at the other end of the spectrum, small local sites or shrines allow pilgrims to step outside the cacophony of daily life for a few hours at most.  My personal favourite is a journey of around 50 miles to St Peter’s on the Wall; the oldest extant … Continue reading Pilgrim for a Day

Search for enlightenment – On the Road

Driving from London to Lausanne over new year, Jack Kerouac's exuberant 'On the Road' kept me immersed each night in the question of why we are pilgrims. Whether or not you have read the book, you will no doubt know that  'On the Road' is a relentless quest by the narrator - Sal Paradise and … Continue reading Search for enlightenment – On the Road

Reason #3 – Faith

“At the call of an idea they had left their forests, their clearings, the protection of their rulers, their prosperity, their poverty, the surroundings of their youth and the graves of their fathers” (Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim) In recent years, there has been a significant expansion of non-religious pilgrimage, especially in Europe where many … Continue reading Reason #3 – Faith

Why we are pilgrims – Reason #2

Pilgrimage to a shrine or a place of significant spiritual or cultural meaning brings with it the promise of feeling ourselves to be part of something much bigger than our family, our immediate community of friends and colleagues, or even fellow worshippers. Pilgrimage offers a somehow reassuring sense of our own insignificance: a speck of dust … Continue reading Why we are pilgrims – Reason #2