Travel…with a Purpose
October 12, 2017—The Center for Lifelong Learning offers travel opportunities designed to educate the mind and engage the heart. Travel seminars in the United States, India, the Holy Land, Central Europe and the Bahamas encourage participants to explore and experience contexts that can challenge life and faith. Travel such as this can answer a deep spiritual longing, or lead to fresh insights.
Two travel seminars are offered this year, both in 2018. They are Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas: An Eco-Travel Seminar, January 4-11, 2018, and Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, February 18-March 4, 2018. Space remains available for each excursion, and registration for both closes October 30.
Reflecting on the transformative aspects of travel, Mark Douglas, one of the leaders of the Sea-Kayaking “Eco-Travel” seminars, writes,
“…in spite of warnings, scoldings, promises and inspiring speeches, our breakneck pace toward an increasingly unlivable future continues to accelerate. One prominent reason for this is that those of us in modern societies are not well shaped to even think about, let alone change our habits for or otherwise helpfully address, the crises we face…To address this problem, even at individual and local levels, it is immensely helpful to at least temporarily relocate ourselves geographically, conceptually, and spiritually…. Relocating ourselves does more than open some conceptual and spiritual space for reflecting on environmental issues, though. It serves as a physical reminder of the theological conviction that we are all pilgrims. This pilgrimage, like so many of the deepest ones, takes us from one space to another such that, when we arrive, we discover the way God has been with us the entire time and that the “foreign land” of the past is no more familiar–or strange–to us than the unknown land of the future. In pilgrimage, God transforms us as a way of revealing that God is transforming the world.”
Douglas’ reflections echo the words of Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage, a resource used in the CLL pilgrimages to the Holy Land. “For millennia, this cry in the heart for embarking upon a meaningful journey has been answered by pilgrimage, a transformative journey to a scared center. It calls for a journey to a holy site associated with gods, saints, or heroes, or to a natural setting imbued with spiritual power, or to a revered temple to seek counsel.”
Comments from recent CLL participants reflect similar experiences. Following the most recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, they wrote,
“My pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Spring of 2014 was a combination of leaving the familiar behind to journey to a place of spiritual relevance and to search for the truths about my own identity and about God.”
“When I think back on my pilgrimage, it was certainly a journey I could not not take. In this place of spiritual relevance, I found so many clues to understanding the divine and living the life that God calls me to live. It is hard for me to imagine what my life would be today without the blessing of making the pilgrimage.”
“The pilgrimage to the Holy Land stands apart from any other travel. I am a seasoned traveler and have had the opportunity to visit places and cultures that have expanded my world view. The pilgrimage offered a distinctively different experience. Each day moved at a more relaxed pace including time for worship, learning, exploring, contemplation and reflection. Both individually and in our small groups, we had a chance to immerse ourselves in the ancient stories and extract their meaning for this day.”
Participants in the previous two Sea-Kayaking experience shared these comments:
“I was highly impressed with the content and quality of this event. The integration of the body, mind and spirit could not have been better. It was a great experience, and I will take home a number of thoughts, ideas, etc., which will take life in my place of ministry.”
“The presentations and reflection exercises, re issues of creation/environment were terrifically “on point” and in depth…the “playful” exercises aimed at getting us thinking – about re-creation, environmental issues, dilemmas, challenges, hopes, ideas – were creative and prompted thoughtful discussions.”
“Our two leaders put together an excellent learning experience that was very holistic, challenging us and nurturing us intellectually, spiritually, relationally, and physically.”
Cousineau also writes, “To people the world over, pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, an act of devotion to find a source of healing, or even to perform a penance. Always, it is a journey of risk and renewal. For a journey without challenge has no meaning; one without purpose has no soul.” Douglas adds, “Moreover, it is helpful to remember that, from Abram and Sarai, Moses, the exiles, Jesus, and the early church, through the Jesuits, the Brethren at Plymouth Rock, Gandhi, and Muslims on hajj, to contemporary pilgrims like those who regularly set out on CTS-led trips, such pilgrimages have always taken persons of faith into the wilderness. There, shorn of the encumbrances that weigh down and routines that distract, pilgrims are more likely to realized they stand in the presence of God in all God’s mysterium tremendum and mysterium fascinans complexity. That is, we’re more likely to go barefoot in the wilderness (and especially on white sandy beaches!) because the place on which we stand is holy ground.”
Act now to register and reserve your spot for one of these travel seminars. Space is available! Sea Kayaking in the Bahamas, January 4-11, 2018, and Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, February 18-March 4, 2018. Registration for both closes October 30.