That’s a question that is worth asking…not just for clergy, but for us all: for the 20+ choir members going to France this summer, for the people at Plymouth who go on vacations to exotic places, even for people who still bear the expense of skiing right here in Colorado!
The way I look at it is to pose a second ethical question: What is the result or the impact? Will investing in a pilgrimage have a broader impact than my own spiritual satisfaction? Or a further question: Will it be generative in some way? (And a third aspect is not to let our travel hamper our efforts to aid cutting at the root causes of homelessness, as we are doing through HPI and One Congregation, One Family.)
One way to answer is to look at previous experience. I’m not aware of all the impacts that my pilgrimage to the UK and Ireland had during my last sabbatical, but here are a couple:
- Each week, more than 20 people are still meeting in Celtic Christianity small groups that I started as a direct result of my pilgrimage to Ireland with Marcus Borg and Dom Crossan.
- Each Sunday night at Plymouth 3.0 we use music from the Iona Community, which springs from my time on Iona and our hosting John Bell for a weekend workshop at Plymouth.
- There is a beautiful stone cross in our Memorial Garden whose design is from a standing stone cross in Glendalough, Ireland, that I photographed in 2007.
Who knows what will come of a pilgrimage to Rome and Naples? (I’m not anticipating toga parties at Plymouth…but I’m open to suggestion! BTW, did you know that the linen cassock albs that Sharon and I wear actually did evolve from Roman togas? Makes me like my black academic robe better!)
So, I’m trying to stay open to the movement of the Spirit and be moved by what comes our way.