Arriving in Jerusalem is an assault to the senses. The sunlight is bright and unfiltered, the air is clear. The sounds of birds and kids’ voices and car horns and calls to prayer compete for my attention with the smells of fresh-baked bread, incense, and car exhaust. How could I forget the glory of olives at every meal? Walking in the Old City, I lose my way easily, but my bones remember the hardness of these ancient stones.


I just read the short story by Tolstoy called Two Old Men (Thank you, Andrea McNicholas). It is the story of two men and how they prepare for and make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Spoiler alert, if you are not familiar with it: one of them doesn’t actually visit the Holy Land, but instead find opportunities to do Christ’s work right there in Russia before he ever gets on the boat. The other man makes it and visits all the holy sights, but is not sure in the end God accepts his pilgrimage whereas he is sure God accepted his friend’s pilgrimage. What does it mean to make a pilgrimage? If it is to be changed by being close to Christ then it is possible to make a pilgrimage very close to home, yes? On my very first pilgrimage I learned that the difference between a tour and a pilgrimage is that when you are on a tour, you move through a place. When you are on pilgrimage, the place moves through you. I can’t help but wonder, how will pilgrimage manifest inside me this fourth visit? How will it manifest in the lives of those who have yet to arrive?