Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
In November and December, we have been releasing our brand new 7-day prayer cycle of morning and evening prayers on the theme of The Soul of a Pilgrim. The audio podcasts for Day 7 morning and evening prayer (the final day!) are being released today on the theme of Coming Home. This is one of the many free resources we offer to our community to help support your contemplative practice and prayer. (If you are able to support this work financially in any way, we gratefully accept contributions at this link.)
This reflection on the practice of coming home is excerpted and adapted from my book The Soul of a Pilgrim:
The point of traveling is not to arrive but to return home laden with pollen you shall work up into honey the mind feeds on. –R.S. Thomas
Ultimately the pilgrimage leads us back home again. We always return bearing gifts for the community. We are always called back to share what we have been given with others. This will look different for each of us.
We all long for home. Certainly The Wizard of Oz, that great archetypal film, invited us to remember that the power to go home is always with us. And while some physical places and landscapes feel more like home to us, it is always in service to us discovering the primal home within each one of us.
What would it be like to move through the world, and no matter where you found yourself, you recognized yourself as fully at home?
As you continue forward, remember your companions along the way. Remember those pilgrims who have traveled alongside of you, as well as the thousands of souls who have traveled ahead of you and those still to come.
Consider how you might stay with a caravan of kindred spirits to support you in the ongoing pilgrimage of life, whether a wise spiritual guide or a small faith community or making it a practice to regularly call upon your spiritual and blood ancestors.
As R.S. Thomas writes, the point of all this traveling is not to “arrive.” The moment we think we have arrived somewhere in this lifetime is the moment we have fallen deep into the wilderness of self-delusion.
Return home in these coming days carrying this image of the pollen you have received during your pilgrimage that you can transform into honey. Especially in these final days of Advent, as we await the gift of the holy birth into our lives.
What is the sweet nectar that will continue to sustain you? What are the practices which you commit yourself to in the days ahead as we celebrate God becoming flesh?
Our featured book this month is Soul Talk by Rev Kirk Byron Jones. We had such a lovely conversation with him. He describes the soul as “God’s everlasting laughter in you. Your soul is God’s Spirit in your spirit, filled to overflowing with lavish love, grace, and outrageous joy. More than anything else, your soul wants you to know how much you are madly adored by God in the mad hope that you will live from acceptance and not foracceptance.” What a beautiful and inspiring description. Kirk also says that God is “always and forever dreaming your joy” and describes soul pleasure as holy.
This is the call of this season of sacred anticipation too: To return home to that great Dreamer of our holy and outrageous joy.
Join Simon de Voil tomorrow for Taize-Inspired Sacred Chant and on Tuesday we are hosting the Scottish poet Kenneth Steven for a Winter Solstice Poetry Reading.
We will be taking a break from the weekly newsletters next Sunday for the Feast of Christmas so wish you an abundance of blessings for holy birthing!
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Image © Christine Valters Paintner