Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” —Mark 11.8-9
Lately I have found myself thinking about procession and pilgrimage: how we move with mindfulness across a landscape that transforms us along the way; what propels us to set off down paths made sacred by those who have traveled before us; which roads draw us closer to God, and which ones draw us farther away from being aware of God’s presence.
There are times for venturing down a holy path that has physical substance, giving ourselves to traveling a real road that will alter us in ways we cannot predict. And then there are times for committing ourselves to a way that will not take us far in terms of physical distance but will draw us down interior pathways we have not explored before. The desert mothers and fathers of the early church well knew this latter journey. They often counseled staying put, wanting to make sure that physical travel wasn’t being treated as a substitute for interior work rather than an aid to it. Reflecting on this in her book The Forgotten Desert Mothers, Laura Swan writes, “The desert journey is one inch long and many miles deep.”
The road that Jesus traveled to Jerusalem in order to make his entrance that we celebrate on Palm Sunday was not terribly long in terms of physical distance. Yet it was miles deep, marked by years of preparation and prayer, discernment and courage as Jesus traveled farther into the fullness of who he was meant to become.
And what road do we travel to meet the Christ who comes toward us on that ancient way of procession and pilgrimage? What journey do we need to take, by inches and miles, in order to welcome him?
“My life’s work,” my Franciscan friend Father Carl once said, “is to go on a pilgrimage to who I am.” This week and beyond, may we make that pilgrimage. ~Jan Richardson; janrichardson.com
Blessed Is the One For Palm Sunday
Blessed is the One who comes to us by the way of love poured out with abandon.
Blessed is the One who walks toward us by the way of grace that holds us fast.
Blessed is the One who calls us to follow in the way of blessing, in the path of joy.
janrichardson.com Blesses is the One appears in Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons.