A pilgrimage is: "A journey or search of moral significance."
We associate pilgrimages with travel . . . going to some kind of monument or shrine. But sometimes it's an inward facing journey.
Two years ago I'd say that every single day of regular, mundane work at home and plowing through my school on a music teaching cart was a pilgrimage. A search for peace. That has more than moral significance. For me, it was even physically significant - Peace has something to do with migraines, my friends.
I think I'll be happy if at the end of my life I look back and see that the whole thing has been about peace. How to find peace in the midst of any and all circumstances.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you."
Those words were a greeting. The beginning of a conversation. What if I started all of my conversations peacefully? Offering peace?
This is where I usually hit a brick wall in my every day life. How do I bridge the gap between my thoughts and whatever is peaceful when stuff goes wrong? When things don't work out? When I am faced with adversity? When I don't agree with something or someone?
I'm leaving on a two day pilgrimage.
In Alabama there's an area called Muscle Shoals. The Yuchie Native American tribe who first lived there said that the water in this particular part of the Tennessee river sounded like a woman who was singing all day and all night. When the water was low, she sang in a peaceful way. When the water was high, she sang angry songs. "Nunnuhsae" . . . . "The Singing River."
There's a teacher at my school who comes from Muscle Shoals. He was speaking about the history of the area with another teacher on the very last day of school this year. They both told me that I needed to go and research it a little bit. It just so happens that some of our favorite iconic music was recorded in studios there . . . and of course, now you know the legend that came before them.
Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and the Rolling Stones all recorded there. To name just a few . . .
The session musicians who made so much of that music incredible were a bunch of guys from outside the city who just happened to play instruments and know each other. They don't look like they sound.
I love Aretha Franklin. My dad introduced me to her music at an early age. This song was recorded in Muscle Shoals, at Fame studio. And the guys playing in the background? A bunch of young, local kids.
All of these musicians talk about the place having something to do with their sound. A sound that comes from the area itself. The Singing River.
When I need to write and come up against a wall, do you know where I go? I go places like Cades Cove, the River Walk in Chattanooga, the top of Signal Mountain, or any natural body of water I can get to quickly. I find that I can think clearly away from the things that people have made.
I can think clearly away from the things that people have made.
So I want to go and sit by the Singing River that belongs to God's big garden.
Go outside and find yourself a river or a hill. And become quiet.
Peace and Goodness.