Pilgrimage to the City?

A friend commented recently over lunch on how much there is on TV about religious and spiritual experiences, and particularly about pilgrimage.\r\n\r\nEarlier in the day I had been writing about my own pilgrimage over the past few weeks to discover the church in my city – visiting a dozen churches on a sort of weekly rotation for reflection, mainly around the heart of the city centre.\r\n\r\nLater in that same day I talked to a friend in working rural ministry about the pilgrimage that many people make from the city to the country in search of the dream of a new way of living.\r\n\r\nThese three things together seemed to be pulling me towards more serious reflection on the subject of pilgrimage, so I pulled out Christian Norberg-Schultz’s book ‘Meaning in Western Architecture’.\r\n\r\nI remembered (and still quote) from when I last read it some 30 years ago the journey that Schultz described¬†of the pilgrim travelling from rural Europe to the great monastic churches at Cluny, Speyer, Milan, the still popular Santiago de Compostela,¬†and of course, Hagia Sofia. His theory is that the layouts of the great churches added to the experience of the pilgrim who could come to watch and hear (but not take part in) the rites. When they entered the great monastic naves and wandered awestruck to the ambulatory around the altar they re-enacted the journey from Alpha to Omega, from the chaos of the country to the order of the religious community.\r\n\r\nSo Norberg-Shultz was my fourth encounter with pilgrimage that day, and William Temple was my fifth. That evening I was reading William Temple’s ‘Readings in St John’s Gospel’. The Archbishop of York, as he was then, wrote about the political and religious pressures that moved Jesus from the Temple to the City to the Country.\r\n\r\nA pilgrimage in reverse.\r\n\r\nFrom the order of the religious community to the chaos of the country.\r\n\r\nAnd as I lay in bed I wondered, which pilgrimage is mine?\r\n\r\nFrom Chaos to Order, or from Order to Chaos?\r\n\r\nAm I on the medieval pilgrimage from chaos in daily life to order in liturgy and sanctuary?\r\n\r\nOr am I on the Christlike pilgrimage, leaving the order of the Temple to serve in the chaos of life?\r\n\r\nOr both?\r\n\r\nMmm…. I think that’s it.\r\n\r\nIt has to be both.\r\n\r\nIt has to be both to work.

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