St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional
The hymn To Be a Pilgrim (also known as “He Who Would Valiant Be”) is based on Hebrews 11:13, recalling that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”. It’s origin is John Bunyan’s work The Pilgrim’s Progress (1684) . In the 1906 English Hymnal the first verse is as follows:
Who would true valour see, let him come thither;
One here will constant be, Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement,
Shall make him once relent his first avowed intent,
To be a pilgrim.
“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” (attributed to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Jesuit priest, theologian, scientist 1881-1955). And, although the memories and tour photographs will likely be very different in subject matter, all people are travelling this road. And that is true whatever their understanding is of faith, or a Higher Power, or of their purpose here on earth. It is a reality that many opt not to explore this intrinsic element of their being, but the path is there, beckoning, anyway. We cannot know where it leads, and indeed each person’s journey is unique, but we can choose to be mindful of the possibilities it offers.
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), Austrian psychiatrist, philosopher and Holocaust survivor is perhaps best known for his autobiographical work Man’s Search for Meaning. Meaning, for Frankl, comes from three possible sources: purposeful work, courage in the face of difficulty or suffering, and love. If we reflect on those three elements in light of our Christian life, being, ministry, trust in God, and the Great Commandment ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39) we discover a roadmap for the passage ahead. It may include side trips, planned or unplanned or completely spontaneous. There may be delays, construction or hazardous weather conditions. But we will certainly encounter other people, all spiritual beings, all seeking, all pilgrims along the way. Embrace that opportunity and rejoice in the privilege of walking with them, confident that the Holy One is in your midst.