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Soul of a Pilgrim Video Prayer Cycle Day 4 ~ A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Blessing Each Step*

Journeying One,
you help us to navigate the path,
placing one foot in front of the other,
even when the way ahead is not visible.
We set aside our desire for maps, GPS, and guidebooks
and surrender to an inner knowing and direction
sparked by the deepest longings of our hearts.
We know the desire for new life
we feel has been kindled by you.
May we surrender our need to steer the course
and let every step we take carry us into
greater intimacy with you.
Help us to see others as fellow pilgrims on the way
with their own fears and struggles.
Compel us to reach out a hand
in loving compassion and support
and may we recognize all those holy guides
who disrupt our intended paths
as sparking a new direction on our way.

Dearest monks and artists,

Today we release the video podcasts for Day 4 of our Soul of a Pilgrim prayer cycle. The practice for morning and evening prayer is Making the Way by Walking. We hope you continue to journey with us step by step, listening for how the way unfolds before you. 

We have also been featuring our Soul of a Pilgrim self-study retreat this month which is an online companion to my book The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within.  

Here is an excerpt from my book inspired by poet Antonio Machado where he writes: “wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” 

On a true pilgrimage, we soon discover that the journey has its own rhythm and momentum.  We soon realize, if our hearts are listening, that there are secret destinations we were unaware of when we began.

When we take off on a journey we want to pack a map so we know where we are going.  We want to have a guide which tells us which path to go and which turns to take.  

We live in a world where we can always know exactly where we are, and precisely where we want to get to. GPS guides us along the road, telling us the turns to make. 

On pilgrimage, we may be tempted to bring maps with us. Not just maps of the actual physical terrain and landscape we want to travel, but also guidebooks for the inner journey, hoping that if we just have some direction we will know exactly where to go.

Machado’s words above have been a kind of mantra for me in recent years.  As my own spiritual path loosens its grip on plans and certainties and moves more deeply into unknowing and mystery, I am discovering the truth that “there is no road / the way is made by walking.” 

Sometimes when I am working with someone in spiritual direction, I hear the longing from them to know the path God is calling them to, to have some certainty they are making the “right” choice. And yet this way of thinking about God is limiting.  I have come to believe that God does not call us to one particular path that we have to scrutinize and discover. 

God calls us to the fullness of living which can be manifested in a multitude of ways.  

We have to listen closely for what is truly life-giving and there lies the struggle.  We resist trusting ourselves.  We tell ourselves stories about why we should stay stuck where we are.

Following the way made by walking means listening for what is life-giving but on the inner pilgrimage also involves descending into the depths of our being, the places where wounds and shame dwells.  We are called to retrieve these lost parts and welcome them back in to the wholeness of who we are.  

This is why many of us never get very far.  The inner voices that criticize and cajole become too loud and so we return to what is comfortable, to what numbs us from claiming a life that is more vital and congruent with our heart’s desires.  

We each have a particular way, and we are responsible for the choices we make which shape the direction of our lives unfolding. At the same time, we are also invited to yield our desire to control that unfolding.  

The spiritual journey calls us out into the wild places where God is not tamed and domesticated. We are asked to release our agendas and discover the holy direction for our lives.

I think “yielding” is at the heart of the monk in the world as well.  We are called to yield in each moment to a greater presence at work in our lives.  To surrender our egos and our willfulness for a larger wisdom to move through us.

Yielding is about allowing a holy pause and noticing where you are forcing something in your life and letting that go.  It is about smiling gently at all the inner desires to take or seize or grasp, and with that compassionate gaze, allow each of them to dissolve into this endless embrace, yielding to the greater force at work within us.

If you want to deepen your pilgrimage in everyday life, consider registering for the Soul of a Pilgrim self-study retreat. Use code PILGRIM20 for a 20% discount off the regular fee. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, Oblsb, PhD, REACE

*Blessing Each Step is by Christine Valters Paintner and is from the Soul of a Pilgrim prayer cycle

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