Pathways Inspirational Development > What > Journeys
The underlying theme of all Pathways work is that of journey, of moving from one place to another. Thus journeys are created in which groups and individuals experience varied environments and have time to reflect on the ways in which the experiences and encounters may have personal significance.
The walked journey is the oldest and most regular component of these journeys. First organised in 1976, they began as experiments in experiential education – a means of assisting the understanding of the concept of pilgrimage. In essence they remain as such – each one an experiment, producing its own particular flavour and testing quality.
The word pilgrimage is rooted in the Latin per ager – ‘to pass through the land’. This is precisely what the journeys do. It is in the ‘passing through’, that the encounters occur.
We prefer to use the more neutral term journey in introducing these activities. Whilst the physical destination is usually a significant religious building such as a cathedral or site such as a stone circle, it is felt that the word pilgrimage contains meanings which need to be explored personally by participants, rather than imposed externally.
Many people visit famous centres of pilgrimage – but remain simply visitors or tourists. They do not share the beliefs or more importantly, the intentions, of those who have a made a journey full of deeper personal meaning and commitment. Thus one person’s ‘living pilgrimage centre’ is another’s ‘historical monument’.
Pilgrimages are journeys that require, for the participant, a depth of purpose and personal meaning. They are as intentional as any practical journey (to buy food for example) but are driven by mind and spirit, rather than simply physical need. Thus travelling to places such as the birthplace of a significant person can become a pilgrimage if, for the traveller, the journey is imbued with deeper than normal meaning.
Our intention is that the walked journey becomes, for those who join together to pass through the land, a pilgrimage of their own choosing, and that the destination provides a space in which to celebrate significant achievement.
At the end of one such journey, a young woman, having struggled to survive the testing days and having just realised that she had walked over a 100 miles, could barely contain her delight and later wrote ‘this has changed my life’. Thus does ‘journey’ become ‘pilgrimage’.