February 22 – April 7, 2012
“Return to me with your whole heart.”
—Joel 2:12 (from the reading for Ash Wednesday)
“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”
—Mark 1:12-13 (from the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent)
"If your journey is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren't trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn't the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion."
— Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage
Ash Wednesday initiates the Lenten pilgrimage. “Return to me with your whole heart” we hear the prophet Joel proclaim. How do we begin this rigorous journey of returning with wholeness? Are we ready to step out into the wilderness of our souls and follow the way unfolding before us?
Jesus was baptized and then sent into the wilderness for 40 days; it was a kind of pilgrimage, a journey of deep discovery. We don’t go on a pilgrimage like we do on vacation. We prepare ourselves for an encounter with the holy presence which will always evoke awe and trembling, or emotion and commotion as Cousineau wisely writes.
Pilgrimage is an archetypal experience. People have been drawn to make sacred journeys across traditions and generations. It is also a powerful metaphor for the inner journey we take when we respond to the holy call in our lives. Lent is an invitation to make a forty-day pilgrimage through the desert landscape of our own lives. We don’t need to travel long distances to benefit. We need only prepare ourselves to pay attention to each step along the way.
Join Christine for a 40-day art retreat where we will explore various facets of pilgrimage as an inner experience through preparation, landscapes, maps, passports, postcards, and keeping a journal of our experience. This is not an easy journey, it demands commitment and staying awake. But the rewards are well worth it, we always return from pilgrimage with a treasure, a gift to offer back to others.
Art, reflective writing, and contemplative practices will be our primary tools and practices to help us navigate. Our focus will be on the expressive arts where we engage the process over the product and our creativity helps to illumine our inner landscape. We let go of self-doubt and the inner critic to make way for an honoring of our own unique creative voice and what it has to teach us about where we are being led in our lives to sing and dance and play.
A private online forum will be a place to share our art, reflections, experience, challenges, and encounters with fellow pilgrims.
*Register by January 31st for a special bonus free gift bundle* which includes:
- a signed copy of my first Lectio Divina book (from Paulist Press)
- a copy of the Sacred Poetry reflective art journal
- access to an online mini-retreat for the Celtic feast of Imbolc and St Brigid (February 1-2) – the theme is “Stirring in the Belly” (includes an 11-page PDF with a suggested retreat experience and a guided meditation recording in mp3 format)