For many people, the word “pilgrimage” evokes contemplative journeys to exotic holy places, such as Jerusalem or the Taize community in France. But pilgrimages also can be educational journeys, and the “holy” can be found wherever we look to see God’s presence in the world.
Last May, I joined 14 other seminarians on a cross-cultural trip to West Virginia as part of a class studying art, energy, education and religion in Appalachia. This was not a mission trip, but rather an educational ministry trip: We went to learn about another culture, listen to the stories of the people we encountered and discover their ministries. It was a different kind of pilgrimage.