I found myself recently revisiting M. Scott Peck’s book, In Search of Stones.
Peck is most known for his book, The Road Less Traveled. Being a psychiatrist, Peck possesses a keen awareness of the world without and within. For that reason, The Road Less Traveled was on the NY Times Best Seller list for 12 years. In Search of Stones is a treasure for its look into the inner recesses of Scott Peck, not so much the author Scott Peck as the man.
It is a record of a pilgrimage he and his wife, Lily, take to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Their aim was to visit various sites where ancient stones were erected in cultic and religious expressions. They journey through countrysides dotted with stone fences, out of the way taverns and pastures of sheep and cattle at every turn.
The book is part travelogue and part autobiography. You can almost smell the musty, damp air of the rain drenched soil as Peck records each step of this pilgrimage as they search for ancient stone markers. You can also hear the emotion in the man who speaks his heart as well as his mind as he tells the story of a 3 week pilgrimage through the British Isles.
Peck describes the physical territory in vivid detail, his words serving as snapshots offering the reader a glimpse of vistas and views encountered along his three week pilgrimage.
But Peck doesn’t stop there.
As he describes the view of the scenery and the territory being explored, he gives great insights into the landscape of his own soul. He lets the reader glimpse into the pilgrimage he has been on within his innermost self.
In so doing, he has instilled in me afresh, the need for one to go on pilgrimage now and again….. to contextualize one’s life…. to connect things with other things and to see one’s life as an adventure still underway.
I am reminded how I have a tendency so easily to slip into those old worn grooves of familiarity and daily routines and lose sight of the real adventure to which God calls me. I sense that I am not alone in this.
A pilgrimage is not just to see new physical territory and observe a different landscape. It is about getting out of one’s customary orbit, shaking free the gravitational pull of the standardization of life.
Pilgrimage can be as simple as going home a different way than usual.
It can be about walking a nature trail you’ve never walked before.
It can be about going off-trail.
It can be about bending over and picking up a stone and pondering over how easily the universe can be re-arranged even one stone at a time.
Pilgrimage is also to set out walking and to set about thinking about things deep inside. A pilgrimage into the deep recesses of who we are and what we perceive to be the most important issues in one’s life.
It is good to recall that God’s people have always been on pilgrimage.
Always on the way to another place…. learning and self-examining along the way.
Once leaving Eden we humans have always been on pilgrimage. An examination of Biblical narratives seems to bear out that we have never been further from God than when we have insisted on staying put.
So get up, get out and get on with it.
Go at your own pace, but go.
I’ll see you along the Way.