From the dust jacket~
“Jesus was a homeless, itinerant preacher. And when he said, “Follow me,” he meant it perfectly literally. Because between life-changing sermons, Jesus was, of course, walking. And walking. “He left that place”… “he departed”…”he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan”… and so on. He then walked to his own death, carrying a burden heavier than anyone has ever carried.
“The well-traveled Charles Foster has long been fascinated by nomads and people who choose to become nomadic in pursuit of God. By the idea of traveling to sacred places (whatever they are). By the notion of pilgrimage.
“The wise men, he says, were the first Christian pilgrims. They were astrologers who’d traveled for weeks to find Bethlehem. They set the pattern for all subsequent pilgrimages: they left, they traveled, the arrived, and they went back home. And they experienced something life-changing on that journey. Similarly, a stockbroker on pilgrimage for one short week will know better what it means to leave everything and follow Jesus. The mere decision to go will snap some of the cords that stop him spreading his wings.”
From the author~
All the great religions have acknowledge this fundamental relationship between man and his feet, and his place in the universe. The acknowledgment has taken many forms. One of them is pilgrimage….Judaism was forged on the march, in the wind and blazing sun of Sinai.
In order to follow Jesus, you have to stop sitting and start walking That’s what Matthew did, and so the wanderers multiply and the wandering goes on: “Jesus went on from there,” “Jesus went about all the cities and villages,” and so on.
But what sets the pilgrim apart from the list-ticker is that he hopes, and at some level believes, that someone will hear his footsteps coming from afar, and as he approaches the threshold, that person will open the door and bid him come in and eat. The pilgrim probably has no very clear idea about what the person will look like; but he knows that when the door is opened, there will be an ecstasy of mutual recognition, that it will be home, and that from inside will come music that he has heard somewhere before—music that he was desperate to hear again and that was the siren song that called him to whatever Jerusalem he’s in.
The pilgrim’s prayer, to be spoken as a mantra in time to each step, is, “Make me a child; make me a child; make me a child.” The intention and the road will go a long way toward making it happen, but there is always a shortfall. You need new eyes. That demands an act of creation, not just rehabilitation.
It is the ancient conflict of the sower and the herdsman, the settler and the nomad, Cain and Abel. The settlers came out on top, but they did so by killing the nomads….The denouncers of pilgrimage are all (at least by the standards of their times) advanced urban intellectuals who have the most to lose. They are Cains, terrified of being reminded of what they have done, scared of the superior gaze of that favored, carefree, whistling boy as he walks past with his goats , mocking ever so slightly the serious, planning, budgeting older brother.
Yes, you’ll be guided, but not necessarily to the destination you mapped out on the coffee table at home.
Above all, do not let anyone, least of all the writer of a book on pilgrimage, tell you where to go. It is nothing to do with anyone else.
The Buddha’s last words to his disciples were “Walk on.” The first words of Jesus to his were rather different: “Follow me.” Jesus said some other things, too, but as a summary of the four Gospels, “Let’s go for a walk together” is not bad