About our name
During a gathering prayer early in my contemplative training, I heard the following prayer by George Appleton:
Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God
As I go down into the deep of my own being.
Show me the hidden things,
Take me down to the spring of my life,
And tell me my nature and my name
Give me freedom to grow so that
I may become my true self -
The fulfillment of the seed which
You planted in me at my making.
Out of the deep I cry unto Thee, O God.
As I reflected on and prayed about this reading, I imagined entering a dark and damp cave. As I went further in and down, I noticed a small pool of water illuminated by a single shaft of light from the cave ceiling. I imagined it as a Harry Potter kind of scene of discovery. As I neared the pool, I knelt beside it and placed my hands in the water. I asked what is my true nature and true name. Out of the water emerged a wispy, smoky writing. It read clear as day, "Pilgrim."
I have held onto that image and that name for the years since that day. As I have looked into what pilgrim and pilgrimage mean, I found this meaningful description from Parker Palmer: "Most of us arrive at a sense of self and vocation only after a long journey through alien lands. But this journey bears no resemblance to the trouble-free 'travel package' sold by the tourism industry. It is more akin to the ancient tradition of pilgrimage – 'a transformative journey to a sacred center,' full of hardship, darkness, and peril.
"In the tradition of pilgrimage, those hardships are seen not as accidental but as integral to the journey itself. Treacherous terrain, bad weather, taking a fall, getting lost – challenges of that sort, largely beyond our control, can strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge and make space for the true self to emerge.
"If that happens, the pilgrim has a better chance to find the sacred center [they] seek. Disabused of our illusions by much travel and travail, we awaken one day to find that the sacred center is here and now – in every moment of the journey, everywhere in the world around us, and deep within our own hearts."
I hope for nothing less than this in our time and relationship together. We may encounter hardship, darkness, and peril, but we will also find the joys of the journey as well. Through it all, we hope to make our way toward your sacred center. All that is required is a willingness to make the first step and join the other pilgrims on the journey.