The Hardest Place to Be

I had been trying to wrack my brain to come up with another experience or trip that I’ve taken in my life that could count as worthy of being called a pilgrimage when the lyrics to the song “Arrow” by half.alive helped me remember and think about the importance of the inner pilgrimage.  All pilgrimages involve an inner journey to match whatever outer journey is taking place, but we don’t need to go on any literal trips to undertake the daily inner journey of reconnecting with who we are and who we are becoming. The lyrics that especially caught my attention were:

The hardest place to be
Is right where you are
In the space between
The finish and the start
Is the Arrow in your heart
The Arrow in your heart

Pilgrimages that take us out of our normal surroundings and allow us to see new sights and experience new things can be a great tool for reconnecting with the Divine, but they can also be distractions from the inner journey. Slowing down, being honest about who you are and where you are at in life, and allowing yourself to be fully present right where you are is hard work. But unless we commit to that hard work we may not be able to sense the “Arrow in your heart,” which I would interpret as the Spirit guiding us toward who we are meant to be and how that best connects to the rest of the world. 

As we quickly approach Easter and close out this series on Pilgrimages, I hope we don’t feel like we’ve arrived. Easter is not a destination but a season that inevitably flows into the next season. In every pilgrimage, there are markers along the way, but the journey is never really over. Regardless of where we are on the journey or whether our journey involves mountaintops or far off cities, I hope we have the courage to do the inner work alongside whatever literal journeys and pilgrimages we take. 

The hardest place to be might just be right where we are, but it is there (wherever “there” is) that we must begin our pilgrimage anew each moment, learning to pay attention to where the Arrow in our hearts is pointing us.