Exploring Pilgrimage

“Exploring Pilgrimage”: A program to encourage mindful travels of body and spirit
Date: June 22, 2019, 2-3:30 p.m.
Location: Church of St. John in the Wilderness, Copake Falls NY (and Our Lady of Hope Church, Copake Falls NY)
Further information: Jane Brady-Close, (201)819-8371; jtb08068@gmail.com

Seekers and seasoned travelers alike are invited to “Exploring Pilgrimage” on Saturday, June 22, 2-3:30 p.m., at the St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church, Copake Falls NY. The program will explore the universal phenomenon of journeys to sacred places along routes both ancient and modern. It will offer suggestions for reframing travel to enhance its meaning and examine interior pilgrimages such as aging and illness.

Canaan Congregational Church, Canaan NY, Church of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church, Copake Falls NY, and St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Spencertown NY have developed this program. Their members have participated in pilgrimages in the U.S. and abroad and are accustomed to working collaboratively. Joining them is Mindy Miraglia of Lee MA, of the Berkshires Camino Walkers. She has walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain and will return there later this summer. This is one of two pilgrimage routes to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Planning for the program to engage the community in shared learning and deepened spirit began at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Spencertown. According to Barbara Conkling of Red Rock NY: “The theme of pilgrimage, broadly defined and from an interfaith perspective, was a natural focus. We send travelers off with a blessing and a small stone to carry and invite them to contribute to our pilgrimage journal when they return.” The program seeks to help travelers to become more mindful in their journeys, open to opportunities for transformation, responsive to people and habitats they may encounter, and develop communities of support.

According to the Rev. Jane Brady-Close of Ghent NY, “Experiences in the natural world can be profoundly spiritual. St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church welcomes some pilgrim/campers from adjacent Taconic State Park each year. We were excited to see that the Berkshire Natural Resources Council is developing a High Road project, linking walking trails through preserved areas to towns throughout the Berkshires, similar to the network of services along the Camino and other pilgrimage routes.”

According to the Rev. Katharine Houk of Chatham NY: “The journey through a serious illness can offer us the opportunity for a different sort of pilgrimage. Illness is not something we ask for, but is a path on which we can learn, change, and find deep meaning in our lives. Such a

pilgrimage involves hardships and darkness, but can also help us to live more fully, rest in the present, find deep compassion, and experience a healing of the heart. What is truly important in our lives rises to the surface; life is understood for the precious gift that it is.”

Jay Aronson of New Lebanon NY reflects: “As we are on the brink of our elder years we are stepping out of our familiar roles and places and we begin to experience in a new way, more deeply, shedding parts of ourselves and connecting with our core self and ultimately finding new ways to connect with the sacred.”

There will also be an opportunity immediately following the presentation to visit the Universal Prayer Garden and Labyrinth at Our Lady of Hope Church, also Copake Falls. Walking a labyrinth can be a meditation on the journey of life and a path for discernment. According to the creator of this labyrinth Robert Haldane, “From a distance, one sees a low, gentle, grass ring. It is seated in a grove of oak trees, and is surrounded beneath by a hedge of hawthorns. Tall, attractively shaped standing stones frame the grove, inviting one’s curiosity and wonder…”

The program is free and open to the public; families are welcome. Church of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church is located at 261 NY-344 and Church of Our Lady of Hope at 8074 NY-22, both Copake Falls NY. For further information: exploringpilgrimage@gmail.com; (518)218-6070.