What is Sacred Travel?
By Vera Lopez
“Be safe and well. Peace, love and courage.”
The above is the traditional Arabic farewell for those leaving on a pilgrimage.
For millennia, the cry in the heart for embarking upon a meaningful journey has been answered by pilgrimage, a transformative journey to a sacred center. It calls for a journey to a holy site associated with gods, saints, or heroes, or to a natural setting imbued with spiritual power, or to a revered temple to seek counsel.
To people the world over, pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, an act of devotion to find a source of healing, or even to perform a penance. Always, it is a journey of risk and renewal. For a journey without challenge has no meaning; one without purpose has no soul.
“The object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation to get away from it all. To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life. Nothing matters now but this adventure. Travelers jostle each other to board the train [bus, plane] where they crowd together for a journey that may last several days. After that there is a stony road to climb on foot a rough, wild path in a landscape where everything is new. The naked glitter of the sacred mountain stirs the imagination; the adventure of self-conquest has begun. Specifics may differ, but the substance is always the same.”
Excerpt from THE ART OF PILGRIMAGE, Phil Cousineau, Conari Press, Berkeley, CA.1998