Pilgrim Way

At the end of last month I took the train from Glasgow to Birmingham
to visit Beth and attend a concert with her in the splendid Symphony
Hall. Before the ‘gig’ there was a short VIP sound check and a ‘meet and
greet’ with the performer KT Tunstall. A fellow Glaswegian asked her
about the impact of growing up in Scotland and what her early musical
influences were, as she now lives in the U.S.A. Someone else asked her
about her favourite places to play music. She told us of an occasion when
she was supporting Hall and Oates at Madison Square Gardens, N.Y., in
front of 20,000 people when all her equipment failed due to an electrical
fault with the exception of her microphone. Reflecting on that
experience and what it had taught her, she said, and I paraphrase here,
“I have come to realise that memorable is preferable to perfection. I
would rather someone came to one of my gigs and found it to be
memorable rather than musically perfect as a performer.” Another
‘super fan’ whom she clearly knew asked her, “what else is left on your
bucket list?” given our Scottish singer’s long career so far?
That set me thinking on my return train journey the next day of my own
‘bucket list’. For a long time I have had a hankering to go on a pilgrimage.
Not any pilgrimage, but the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the
traditional site of the apostle James’ final resting place via the Camino
de Santiago, “The Way of St. James.” Pilgrimage is as old as religion and
perhaps demonstrates the human spirit’s longing for a journey of
discovery. In his upcoming book “From Plague to Purpose”, Joshua
Taylor writes, “The pilgrimage discipline, at its heart, is an intentional
journey to a liminal experience of unknowing, discomfort, and
reorientation for the individual pilgrim.” Only time will tell if I ever
manage to cross this particular milestone off my ‘bucket list.’ However
as I journey through the season of Lent I am trying to picture myself on
a daily pilgrimage towards Jerusalem as we approach the Easter
season.To look for and find signs of grace in my daily routine in and
around Bishopbriggs. To gain a new understanding of a famous quote of
Frederick Buechner, “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless
mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the
excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and
hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key
moments, and life itself is grace.” After all life is seldom about
perfection, and what remains with us are those memorable moments
which endure in our bodies, minds, and souls.
Those moments may well be found in Birmingham, Bishopbriggs or
Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims are welcome to join wherever,
whenever they can on the Pilgrim Way. Why not step outside of yourself
this Lent and encounter God anew?

The poet David Whyte sums up this aptly in his poem:
For the road to Santiago
For the road to Santiago
don’t make new declarations
about what to bring
and what to leave behind.
Bring what you have.
You were always going
that way anyway,
you were always
going there all along.