One of the interesting spiritual ideals during the first 1000 years of Christianity was the peregrinatio or “voluntary exile”. Those particularly devoted to the Lord would voluntarily leave their own home and undertake dangerous journeys to various places. Some Celtic Christians, especially some from Ireland, practiced an extreme form of this. They would get into a small boat, without oars or rudder or any other way to steer the boat. They would take no food or water. After praying they would cast themselves off from shore trusting the Lord to use the wind and the ocean currents to take them wherever He wanted and to provide for all their needs.
I like the idea of that – travelling without oars or destination. But it’s not for me really. We had the first meeting of the Implementation Group for the Diocesan Review last night – it’s really more a group which keeps everything on track – making sure that the Spirit leads us into all truth along a carefully charted course. But I suppose I do have to admit that, for me, the joy of it is that ultimately I don’t actually know what the destination is. I know the direction and the values which define the journey – but not the destination.
And of course, I suspect that there is more than a whiff of TS Eliot in there:
‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.’
Nick Thorpe in his wonderful travel-log ‘Adrift in Caledonia: Boat-hitching for the Unenlightened’, says this about peregrinatio: “The implication was that if you kept our eyes open you would know it (your destination) when you found it. They called it ‘seeking the place of your resurrection’.” An encouraging thought for the Diocesan Review?
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