‘The Sacred Journey’ by Charles Foster is another book in the Ancient Practices Series’ edited by Phyllis Tickle. I’ve read several of these books and have really enjoyed them…even the ones I’ve had serious disagreements with. Browse my blog for my other reviews related to this series.
‘The Sacred Journey’ is the book in the series that deals with pilgrimage. In the book Mr. Foster makes the point that we are either pilgrims or we are not. I would agree with this point, though I think that all Christians to one degree or another are indeed pilgrims. I found myself while reading this book wanting to just step out of my house and walk. Reading Mr. Foster’s words gave me the strong desire to travel to Jerusalem to see the land in which the events I read about in Scripture took place, or to visit the great Cathedrals of Europe, or to spend time in a monastery, or even just spend time in an unfamiliar land walking the dusty trails and meeting people from all walks of life who are on a similar journey of faith…Even if our faith may or may not be the same.
Mr. Foster paints a very romantic picture of pilgrimage, though honestly I don’t even think this was his intent. I think his desire was to paint a picture that was both true to the practice, realistic, and beautiful…Not just romantic. I think he succeeded…but there certainly is an inherent beauty within this practice. And it is one that I think has been lost through the centuries. I understand why, as humans have a tendency to place the actual practices in the place of God and make our faith about the things we do, as opposed to allowing those things or practices lead us to the God we are to be drawing closer to. That is what everything we do on our journey of faith is supposed to do. If not, it is pointless.
‘The Sacred Journey’ is not particularly a Christian book, nor do I think it was meant to be. This will bother some Christians…Though it shouldn’t take away from what I believe is the beauty of this practice. Whether I agree on every theological point with Mr. Foster is not important. It is okay to learn from those we don’t totally agree with, even if they may be of another faith…Though I do believe Charles Foster would describe himself as a Christian. I tend to think though, were I to sit down over coffee with Mr. Foster, we would have several disagreements…and this is okay.
At the end of the day, I would recommend this book. Many people will not like it. Most folks in my religious tradition would say that pilgrimage is pointless, and the pilgrimage that matters is simply our journey of faith and how we live as Christians as aliens within the world. I would say they may be right to a certain degree, still though, I think much can be learned from laying down all that we surround ourselves with in our daily lives and forsaking all of the day to day nonsense that we place so much importance on, and re-centering ourselves around Christ and those things He has called us to do and reconnecting with Him on a very organic level. I think setting out away from our day to day lives may help us see Him in all of creation, and in others, in a fresh way. This may not be needed for you. But for some, I think real benefits could be gained and we may just see ourselves and God in a whole new way. Away from all of our stuff, or our busyness, we may just draw closer to Him as we see that ultimately it is all about Him…not us. This can be hard to see when we are so caught up in our own little lives.
This book is not for everyone, but it may just be for you. It may certainly be worth a read…I for one am glad I read it.
Disclaimer- I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.