Last year the church where I am pastor, Eastminster, took a wonderful step to provide space for up to 60 people in homeless families during the winter months in Portland. It has been a wonderful experience for me and for the church to provide a safe “home” at least for a season for some of the most vulnerable among us.
I don’t know if that experience became a catalyst for this pilgrimage or not. I do know that when I was describing the nature of pilgrimages in general, and this pilgrimage in particular, I stated that a pilgrimage is a time of “intentional homelessness.” Even as I write this I am aware of how frequent the theme of home has already come up in my previous blogs.
Today, I got the strongest wave of feeling homeless than I have up to this point. Yesterday, I shared about the experience of being at the threshold to something new. Today, I must have stepped just a little further over that threshold. I leave tomorrow on this pilgrimage. The day has been filled with closing up shop. I answering the final emails, activating the out of office response, shipping the cat off to my kids, and packing and loading the bike for the trip.
I am thankful that I have never truly been physically homeless. But, today has been a strange day. I haven’t wanted to linger in conversations with the clerks at the check out stands like usual. It’s not just because I have an overly packed day. I suddenly feel very disconnected to them and the world that I have here. I know I need to take the time to say goodbye to the last few people I’ll have contact with. But, I already feel gone. My new world is already out there on the road. I am still physically here but my head and my heart are out there. I still have an apartment to come back to as well as a job and wonderful family and friends. At least for the moment, however, this doesn’t feel like home. I have to ride away to find it again. T.S. writes,
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”
There is the need to leave and explore. There is the need to walk away from home just long enough to discover home freshly anew. In prepping the community around me for this pilgrimage I called it a time of “intentional homelessness”. I think I am starting to know just what that feels like!