During the fall of 2019, I read the first half of The Way of the Pilgrim, a deeply moving book about orthodox prayer life. I was so inspired by it I insisted Ian take it with him on the truck, even if he could only read a page a day, I knew he would enjoy it. He did, he read the whole thing, first and second half in just a few days. Figuring it would take Ian a while to read I moved on to other things and so when he returned the book and told me I HAD to read the second half, it got mixed in with other things, then it was the holidays and then it was 2020 and I’ve already posted about how my reading plans for that went. But as I unpacked boxes I said I’m finally going to finish that and I did.
Both halves of this book are spoken from the heart and to the heart. While I know the eyes read the words, but The Way of the Pilgrim talks about faith and prayer in a way that is so personal you can’t help but feel it. This simple story has inspired me in so many ways to dive deeper into my faith.
I am sadly far too materialistic and tied to the world to become a pilgrim, wandering from one holy person or place to the next, with nothing but the grace of God, but I so desire to take pilgrimages. Not just travel and vacation, but go to monasteries and Holy sites and while I am there disconnect from the world. Can you imagine being in a monastery or visiting the holy land, without your cell phone or laptop or tablet instead just your psalter or bible or maybe even just a simple prayer book? Having no cares about politics or news or even the daily happenings of everyone in your life and keeping your eyes toward God for a few days? Just thinking about it, lifts some of my anxiety and brings a smile to my face. I know it will be difficult, as we are all screen addicts in my house at least, but I know that we will be grow in those opportunities too.
Also, the Pilgrim inspired me to seek and converse with others within my faith. This might seem kind of obvious, because of course I talk to my priest and god mother and those who also attend my church. However, outside of my congregation, even in forums and Facebook groups I have tended to only comment to people who were like me (new calendar Orthodox convert, married and mother). Not that I have anything against anyone who is not any of those things, but I don’t know what to say. The Pilgrim, though, greeted everyone with the same zeal, knowing that God put them in his path for a reason. If I think about it I would love to learn about other jurisdictions and traditions. Does it really matter what calendar we follow if we are keeping the faith? By branching reaching out in love he learned and was given great opportunities to deepen his understanding, even when he disagreed with someone there was joy in conversations, not the anger and hatred I see filling our polarized culture. Can you image people in the United States today disagreeing and yet instead of riots, they go in peace their separate ways offering the disagreement to God, that his will be done? Oh, what a different world we could live in.
I hope to revisit this book often, maybe after I’ve done a pilgrimage or two to refresh the zealous love for Christ, prayer and education of faith that the Pilgrim offers. Do you have any books that refresh your faith or way of thinking, other than scripture of course?