Armchair Pilgrimage of Blessings

We’ve created this Great Idea based on a recent email from Wild Goose – The Iona Community’s publishing house.

Wild Goose shared an email full of pilgrimage resources which, when combined, could be a wonderful summer experience for any number of people groups – or the whole congregation together – or even an excuse to invite neighbors curious about spiritual pilgrimage.

Determine the pilgrimage group: folx with mobility issues or other restrictions that keep them at home; an intergenerational spiritual exploration for the entire congregation; one or several small groups; the entire broader community.

Set aside a particular length of time: a couple weeks, the next month, the whole summer.

‘Embark’ on your pilgrimage by blessing the venture with excerpts from A Book of Blessings and How to Write Your Own. ‘Blessing’ could even be a theme for your venture; if so, begin a practice of inviting folx to write their own blessings for the journey.

Make some introductions and invitations as you read, The Kentigern Way: A Life and Lakeland Pilgrimage (an ebook version makes it easy to share with all), which introduces folx to what pilgrimage is (and how it differs from tourism) as it guides them through a route ‘in one of the most majestic landscapes in the UK’.

Book-end your pilgrimage in worship: begin and end with liturgical inspiration from Pilgrimage Is a Circular Route – ‘a liturgy for those going on a pilgrimage or those who just want to reflect on the journey of life. Includes prayers and reflections from various Iona Community members.’ The pdf download makes for easy access.

Discern ahead of time or with all participants weighing in: on which pilgrimage will you embark?

  • Around a Thin Place: An Iona Pilgrimage Guide (book & e-book)
    • full-color guide to the Iona Pilgrimage
    • around the island in a week
    • ‘stops’ at spiritual and historical significant and less obvious landmarks
    • readings, prayers, poems, photographs, songs, stories, and reflections
  • A Pilgrim’s Guide to Iona Abbey (book & e-book)
    • colour photographs
    • around the church and cloisters of Iona Abbey
    • background information on main features
    • suggestions for reflection and prayer at each point
    • stories about the Abbey and community life
  • St Cuthbert’s Way: A Pilgrim’s Companion (book and e-book)
    • information essential for walking the Way
    • places of interest field guide
    • introduction to St Cuthbert and his world
    • songs, meditations, and stories
    • ideas and resource for a contemporary pilgrimage experience

Before you begin, along the way, and/or at the conclusion of your pilgrimage, share a meal – or several meals – from the Iona Abbey Cookbook: Favorite Recipes from the Abbey Kitchen. Exploring simple and delicious recipes will enrich and deepen the pilgrimage experience – especially if folx can share their experience of shopping for ingredients, preparing food, and eating – either together or in reflective conversation.

If the pilgrimage is multiple weeks, let weekly worship continue to ground and shape the experience basing it in the Iona liturgical elements. Be sure to close the experience with a final time of worship and blessings from the above resources.

Find additional resources for pilgrimage in our Hermitage, Pilgrimage, and Retreat lib guide.