Hearing the Call and Responding

Introduction and Chapter 1, The Soul of a Pilgrim.

Reading and Reflecting.

A pilgrimage is an intentional journey into this experience of unknowing and discomfort for the sake of stripping away preconceived expectations. We grow closer to God beyond our own imagination and ideas. (p. 2). 

Reflect: What preconceived expectations do you think you are bringing to this study? Can you let them go?

When we take inward and outward journeys, we can be pilgrims as long as we stay open to new experiences. We must always be mindful that pilgrimage is an outer journey that serves our inner transformation. (p. 3). 

Reflect: How do you usually approach new experiences? Are you the “bring it on” type or the “not going to budge” type? Are you eager? Curious? Cautious? What do you need to begin this journey with an open mind and heart?

The first chapter of the book is dedicated to practices of hearing the call so that we can ready ourselves to respond. We are, says the author, bought into this world with our own unique gifts, talents, resources, opportunities, and. challenges. Many indigenous cultures refer to this as our “original medicine” that contain our power to act in the world. 

Reflect: Can you accept your own gifts and abilities and the recognition that you make a difference in this world just by being yourself?

Paintner talks about the angel’s annunciation to Mary and asks us to consider the angels of annunciation in our own lives.

Reflect: Can you identify some times of annunciation in your life? What was your reaction to them at the time? What has been revealed to you since then?

The pilgrim has two movements. The inner pilgrim calls us to move outward, to travel, to explore the landscape in front of us. The inner pilgrim calls us out of our comfortable lives into something true and holy, like the salmon returning home to die.  The inner monk, rooted in ancient practices residing within each of us, is calling us to move inward. This inner monk knows the wisdom to be found in rest and slowness, in the holy pauses in our lives. 

Reflect: Where do you see the inner pilgrim and the inner monk at work in your own life? 

Creating a Retreat in your Everyday Life.

On pages 6 to 9, the author describes a way to create a simple retreat every day. Read the section, deciding how much of a daily retreat you can commit to. Be realistic, but stretch a little.

Establishing one or more practices.

Each chapter of this book will offer a scripture and invite us into a number of possible practices such as:

  • lectio divina
  • writing a midrash
  • visio divina
  • photographic pilgrimage.

    Full explanations for each one are on pages 23 through 30. We suggest you begin by choosing one of the practices that most appeals to you and experimenting with it. You are certainly invited to add your own practice such as art or needlework. Do not attempt to do all of them at one time. This is your pilgrimage to construct as the spirit speaks to you.


For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging—in love, creativity, and friendship—
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.”

― John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

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