There are well-known slogans like “Explore More” or “Never Stop Exploring” with mass marketing appeal that reflect a well-documented trend towards exploration and travel as a modern-day virtue in American culture. More and more, people are leaving behind the comfort of all-inclusive resorts and striking-out into the great wide open, the paths not taken, the farthest reaches of the world. What is it in our culture that has reawakened this spirit of exploration and wanderlust?
Exploring new places can help us rest, can challenge us in new and healthy ways, can impress upon us new perspectives about how the world works, and much more. But there is a danger in traveling to “collect” experiences. This sort of travel can mask a deeper restlessness about our own identities, discontentments, and doubts about ourselves and/or our circumstances. Taking trips is also not the only way to rest, find out about the world, or uncover our true selves. Celebrated writer and farmer Wendell Berry – a huge proponent of staying in one place – is an excellent example of a man who came to know the world and his place in it by remaining firmly rooted in one very specific place.
In a great episode from the second season of Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope breaks up with her worldly, intelligent, engaging, well-traveled boyfriend because, “He’s a tourist. He vacations in other people’s lives, takes pictures, puts them in a scrapbook and then moves on. All he’s interested in are stories.”
At Coracle, one of our core values is adventure. We travel far, go deep, and take risks with and for God in faith. This leads us to places like Nepal, Guatemala, El Camino in Spain, the American South. But we are also deeply tied to the places and communities where we are building roots – in the Shenandoah Valley around Corhaven, in Northern Virginia and the DC metro area, and in Baltimore. When we offer travel opportunities, we call them pilgrimages because they are journeys undertaken with the specific intention of going with God, to see where God is at work, and to partner with Him in the work He is doing in the world.
We do not offer these trips to add to our photo collections, or to give us great stories to tell. Those are very likely outcomes of going on pilgrimage with Coracle, because we travel to places of great beauty and take time to hear the wonderful stories woven into each locale. But the places we go are also places of brokenness that require us to be the healing and redeeming presence of God in the heart of the world’s pain. Even on our contemplative walks through Scotland and Spain, this is true.
Admittedly, there is a spirit of wanderlust in us all, which is why those mass marketing slogans are so effective. What those slogans are appealing to is the journey we are all on, leading us back to our ultimate home in the arms of God the Father. We are all finding our way back and all journeying, and pilgrimages are specific ways that we can help reorient our lives along that ultimate journey when we lose our way.
We hope you will consider joining us on one or more of our upcoming journeys! They range from a weekend trip to explore parts of the history of slavery in Virginia, to a 10-day mission to Nepal in November. I would love to talk to you about any or all of them and I hope you will explore some of our offerings below and get in touch with me with questions you might have.
Whatever going deeper with God looks like for you, we at Coracle are here to help you do that. Journey with us, to faraway lands and/or deeper into God’s character. We’d love to go with you.