The word “pilgrim” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as: someone who travels to a holy place.
In other words, a pilgrim is a person who is on a journey with their eyes fixed on something that is born of truth. Although a pilgrim is one who wanders, they do not wander aimlessly. A pilgrim wanders with a deep purpose and vision of walking with simplicity to share the truth which produces freedom, love, peace, understanding and generosity.
“I am a pilgrim; a wanderer. A pilgrim is a wanderer with a purpose. A pilgrimage can be either to a place or for a thing and mine is for a thing. Mine is for peace.” – Peace Pilgrim
Indeed, freedom is at the very heart of a pilgrim. It is a freedom that is undivided by political, religious or economic divisions. It is with this freedom that a pilgrim dedicates themselves to live with trust, faith and commitment to see the hearts of all humanity set absolutely and unconditionally free. A pilgrim relies on the kindness and goodness of others to continue their journey; unearthing trust and compassion in a world where these spiritual traits are often masked by falsehoods of fear and violence.
A pilgrim is one who is deeply connected not only with all members of the human family, but also with all life on Earth. A long pilgrimage, walking thousands of miles, connects us with the Earth as we see observe each blade of grass, the movement of clouds, farmlands growing food, villages with people greeting each one with a genuine smile.
These are some of the aspects of what I consider the word “pilgrim” to mean at a deeply personal level. I am now 30 years old, and it this call to live the life of a pilgrim I feel I have been drawn towards for my entire adult life, and even with glimpses during childhood. My first step as a pilgrim happened in 2012, when I went to Los Angeles, California, and began a pilgrimage up the west coast that lasted nearly 3 months and covered nearly 1000 miles of the California and Oregon coasts on-foot.
Life as a pilgrim became further realized in 2015 when I walked 1000 miles, once again returning to the Oregon Coast. After concluding that pilgrimage, I decided I wanted to begin to use my lifestyle as a pilgrim to bring attention to what I believe is the greatest injustice in our world: extreme poverty. I moved to Seattle and on March 22, 2016, walked 100+ miles from Seattle to Canada on United Nations’ World Water Day to raise awareness and funds for clean water in South Sudan.
Now, I am preparing to walk across Indiana on May 20 with Planetwalk, the nonprofit organization of Dr. John Francis and shortly after I will begin a global pilgrimage around the world, 25,000 miles to end poverty. I will publishing a post about this new endeavor in the next couple of days and look forward to connecting with you all wherever you are along your path.
“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh