To Be A Pilgrim …

Last month Caroline and I had the privilege of filming with BBC Songs of Praise and Katherine Jenkins for a programme focused on Pilgrimage. This St David’s Day Special was filmed on the beautiful St David’s coast path and ended at St David’s Shrine in the stunning St David’s Cathedral. We are incredibly blessed to live where we do.

At Replenished Life we value pilgrimage whether this is a physical journey or a spiritual one as part of life’s walk. We daily walk alongside those that we support on their spiritual and healing journeys.

In this article we explore some of the connections that Pilgrimage has with the work of Replenished Life.

What does Pilgrimage mean to us?

Pilgrimage for us is a spiritual journey to a significant place.

It is as much about the journey as the destination and that destination can evolve over time. It is a time to pause, reflect, refocus on the next destination in life’s journey as well as the physical or spiritual destination.

Engagement with the landscape and those on the journey with you is a key part of pilgrimage for us. Taking time out of busy lives to interact with the landscape and other pilgrims is so important. This is especially the case given the 3 tough years on the bounce that this nation has been through.

The Transformative Pilgrimage

Our work at Replenished Life has many connections with pilgrimage and those we support are often on their own transformative pilgrimage.

“Pilgrimage is born of pain and promise.  An absence has imposed itself upon one’s life. This absence is sometimes diffuse and undefined, a vacuum at the heart of one’s being which compels a search for the more, a state beyond anything seemingly available in one’s immediate realm”

W S Scmidt 2009

Our work at Replenished Life has many connections with pilgrimage and those we support are often on their own transformative pilgrimage.

The impact on those who have experienced abuse and trauma within faith is often deep and profound. This impact may be experienced as loss and grief. Loss of community, work colleagues, family, friendship, belonging, purpose, role or career may all be experienced. This can be compounded by a loss of trust and can lead to a loss of faith or an impact on faith. Wellness, wholeness or spiritual health (whatever you wish to call it) is often seriously undermined by an experience of abuse and trauma. Where faith has been part of that experience this can be deeply personal and profound.

“At times the challenge to wellness is complete and seemingly total, brought on by a loss or trauma either so sudden or so massive that life as one has known it has effectively ceased.  One’s world has collapsed and the boundaries of one’s familiar life have shifted.  Propelled by such circumstance an involuntary journey has likely begun… Whether prompted by an erosion of one’s physical, emotional or spiritual wellness, this loss of personal wholeness activates a search for a power and a presence which can restore.”

W S Schmidt 2009

At Replenished Life we walk alongside people on their pilgrimage to wellness whether that be spiritual, emotional or physical.

Those who have experienced abuse and trauma within faith can walk a lonely and isolated path. Faith organisations don’t always understand the impact of abuse and trauma within faith. Statutory services (Social Services, Police, Health etc) don’t always understand the faith aspect of this experience, the impact of this or the ongoing role of faith in people’s journey.

We walk alongside people on their journey and are able to be sounding boards, discussing options and possible paths forward on their journey. We are very clear that it is their journey and that all decisions are theirs to make. Everything that we do empowers, encourages and supports as the last thing anyone needs is more power being taken away or being told what they should do!

The path of those who have experienced abuse and trauma within faith may be rocky, with lots of bends, and overgrown vegetation that needs patiently clearing. There can be crossroads and areas where the path ahead is unclear. There may be times when the path is easy or times where life events cause us to loop back on ourselves and need to walk a section of our journey again. We are clear that the journey to living well with an experience of abuse and trauma is hardly ever a straight forward A to B journey.

There is so much about our work that echoes pilgrimage. We talk about people journeying to living well with their experience. We would say living well is a significant place, there is a spiritual element to this journey (whether people have kept their faith or not) and there is a need for the right people with lived experience to accompany people on their journey. Whilst everyone’s journey (and destination) is different, having someone who has walked this way before is always useful.

In Part 2 of this article we will explore the journey to living well with an experience and the practice of holding space for others.

William S Schmidt June 2009 Transformative Pilgrimage Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health 11(1-2):66-77

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