The Practice of Coming Home

The Soul of a Pilgrim, chapter 8

Reading and Reflecting

Chapter 8 concludes the book but also gives us some direction for the future. Paintner says the pilgrimage leads us back home again, not so much with answers but with better questions, the answers to which can only be learned by living the life God has given us.

Reflect: As you reflect on the book, what have you learned and what new questions have arisen for you? What new potential has presented itself to you? What new possibilities do you now see for your life?

Paintner speaks of “going home to yourself.”

Reflect: What does that mean for you? Think of the places where you most feel at home – maybe it is in nature, maybe a classroom, perhaps in your comfy chair alone. Can you consider those your “grounding” place – kind of home base – from which you go forth into the larger world?

The author reminds us that we are always called back home to share with others what we have been given. 

Reflect: What do you now feel equipped to share that you did not before? You might think of it as what is my purpose? – “Not what I do for work, but what is my deeper purpose as a human being in this life?” (pg 129). 

The spiritual life is full of paradoxes. We are called to recognize that in peacefulness we will also find restlessness. In family there will also be strangers. Our own home must also be a world-home.

Reflect: as you consider these and other paradoxes, where do you see this in your life?

In the “closing blessing” section, Paintner reminds us that the pilgrimage does not stop; it continues on for each of us. “The discovery of the home within is something we must continue learning,” she says (pg 136). This journey is not a linear path, but rather we travel more in circles and spirals. As T. S. Eliot said, “We shall not cease from our explorations. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started. And to know the place for the first time.”

Reflect: What new thing have you learned about yourself during this study? What thing that you always knew has revealed itself in a new way?

Practice this Week:

Take some time to look back over the chapters of the book. Which of the practices come easily to your spiritual life? Where do you most struggle? Make a plan to include each of them in your continuing journey.

Closing litany and prayer.

Closing prayer

A New Beginning
by Joyce Rupp

Faithful Guide,
you sit at the gate of my life,
inviting me to eagerly enter
the newness stretching before me.
As I attend to the old burdens
that have weighed me down with worry,
I look ahead with hopeful expectation
to what my heart most needs.
I also recognize the absolute necessity
of living in the present moment.
I choose to direct my daily attentiveness
toward what will give my life greater balance.
I seek to let go of what keeps me unloving.
I long to contribute to peace in the world.

Often place the mirror of truth before me so that I can see who I am
and how I need to go about my life.
Attune me daily to the beauty in all of creation.
Embrace me with your serenity and tender mercy.
I give you my love as I walk into this new beginning.

Once again, I place my confidence in you,
faithful companion and trusted guide.
You will show me the way to wholeness.

from Prayers to Sophia.

For the closing litany, click here.