March 14, 2017

“When that Aprill, with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote…

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages”

-Chaucer, Canterbury Tales


(When April with showers sweet, the drought of March has pierced to the root…

And small birds make melody, that sleep all night with open eye

So goaded by Nature in their hearts, then folk long to go on pilgrimages)

For centuries, perhaps for all of Homo sapiens history, humans have made pilgrimages of one kind or another. Dictionary.com defines a pilgrimage as “any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, as to pay homage.”   Wait a minute, what does that actually mean?  A quest, as defined by that same dictionary, is a long and arduous search for something. I continue to rely upon the dictionary as I learn that a votive purpose can be an action performed in fulfillment of a vow, or in gratitude or devotion.

Long journeys, arduous searches, clinging to a purpose, these activities transcend customs and boundaries.  Many cultures have their youth partake in a rite of passage, seeking inner enlightenment or a path upon which to direct their lives.  Perhaps I am a late bloomer, only now beginning to think of my adventures in terms of pilgrimage.

I love how Chaucer describes Spring as being the time one most wants to begin a long journey, a quest, a pilgrimage. When I hear birds singing, and see flowers beginning to bloom, my feet long to tread woodland paths, searching for … what?

On March 22, as Jay and I begin the Pacific Crest Trail, I hope to keep this idea of pilgrimage in my heart, staying open to new experiences to stretch my inner self. In this, I will be joining about 6,000 PCT permit holders – those planning to hike more than 500 miles of the 2,650 mile trail. Many of these hikers know they are on pilgrimage, they are actively searching for answers in their lives. Others may not begin the hike as a pilgrimage, but will find, by the end, that their hike was performed in fulfillment of a promise, to express appreciation, or acknowledge a sense of new-found spirituality. I know I am blessed, to be able to participate in this grand adventure.

Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

-Psalm 84:5, Holy Bible, New International Version

12 thoughts on “Pilgrimage

  1. Looking forward to following you on another adventure. It was so long ago that my dog, Tucker and I saw you at Unicoi Gap in GA while we were meeting a friend. We shared some oranges with you. That was the start of following along on your journey on the AT. Happy hiking and happy trails…Winkle


    1. Thank you so much for the good wishes!
      Yes, Jay and I remember you AND those oranges in Unicoi Gap. I also remember how happy Tucker was, even as all the humans stood around engaged in boring talk (boring for a dog, anyway).
      I’m so glad you will continue to follow us!
      Your friend, Sarah


  2. Sarah and Jay – good luck on your new adventures and your downsizing journey!! It sounds like it has all happened very fast as getting rid of stuff to sell your house in only a few months is major !! It is all bittersweet and I know you had many memories in your house! But you will look back and breath easier and have no regrets some day!

    It’s all a continuous journey and process – I’m in the middle of it also! You will breath easier some day as you continue on your life’s journey! And it’s ok to cry along the way – it’s a major change!!

    Anyway enjoy the PCT! I’ll be anxious to hear and read your blog about it!

    Karen from Texas !

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Yay! Found my way onto the blog — I’m looking forward to “hiking along” vicariously. BTW, I’m making my own pilgrimage; Ann Delehay, Linda Bellemore & I are going to Ireland in late July/August. I know — I can’t quite believe it yet, either!


  4. Thanks for sharing my favorite quote from Chaucer. I think Spring is the time that the natural world is opening up for a new year and, thus, it is a fitting time to begin new ventures. I’m not able to trail-walk anymore because of my bum knee, but I’ve always liked (in the past) to get out into nature and enjoy it. And walking with you vicariously is the greatest thing I can do! Happy Venture and Bon Voyage!


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