The Practice of Pilgrimage by Megan Hers

Megan is in the Studies in New Monasticism Internship in Hamilton and this month they are reading and reflecting on Andy Freeman’s PUNK MONK,

It was fitting that I was reading the chapter on pilgrimage this week. On Thursday evening I made a pilgrimage for the second time to a site that is sacred for me, but many people walk by every day without likely thinking twice about it. My pilgrimage was to a tree in Christie Pitts park in downtown Toronto, a spot high up on a hill with a great view of the park down below.

Two years ago it was there that God spoke to me clearly when I was in a really fragile mental state following a particularly intense anxiety attack I’d had a few days prior. I had left the house that afternoon at my worst, and had sat down at the base of this tree without being totally aware of what I was doing. As I leaned back against the trunk of the tree He began to speak to me about all the ways in which His love for me was like that tree. He told me how His love was strong, unmovable, as tangible as the strong tree trunk I was leaning against. He spoke of how being rooted in Him made me able to weather storms, to produce fruit, would make me stretch heavenward.

Thursday night, as I sat once again amidst the roots of this tree, I realized that being in that actual place, feeling the strength of the tree trunk, and looking up through the branches from the base, was important. I could think as much as I wanted about that site and what it meant to me, but being there made a difference. It was also significant that this little pilgrimage had cost me something; the effort of getting to Toronto from Hamilton via bus and bike after a full day of work, the cost of the GO bus ticket when my bank account is small, the seeming foolishness of all that travel and effort for such a small gesture, and 15 minutes of sitting in a park. It did feel like a small, seemingly useless “act of devotion,” (168) a word that I think is quite foreign to today’s world. I also resonated with the Irish proverb referenced in

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