Chapter 2 Pilgrimage as Religiously Educative

In: Pilgrimage as Transformative Process
Alexandria M. Egler
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The pilgrim’s journey is often one of spiritual renewal or transformation, a movement towards a desire for clarity regarding the meaning and purpose of one’s life. The nurturing of the physical, intellectual and spiritual, the act of teaching and learning how to live and die, has the possibility for profound religious and educational transformation. On pilgrimage, there is the potential to envision a new understanding of purpose, identity and community, moving towards shared wisdom and perspective that can be life altering and affirming. With awareness, a pilgrim is able to reimagine life beyond an understanding of what has been taught and learned towards a sacred wisdom of being in the world. For Gabriel Moran, teaching and learning are lifelong and life wide activities for humans that engage in showing others how to live and how to die. Education is more than the exchange between teacher and student in the classroom. Moran, along with Maria Harris contends that religious education is teaching and learning that takes place in and beyond the classroom. Harris and Moran advocate an integrated approach to religious education that recognizes the forms of life: school, family, work and leisure as deep and profound contributions to the educational process. The development of the human person takes place in relation to the interplay and integration of these forms. Pilgrimage is a rich opportunity to teach and learn all of these as the seeker lives and learns how to be in community and relationship with others, the environment and the divine, operating beyond traditional religious beliefs and intentions. This chapter proposes that pilgrimage can be a religiously educative journey embracing and valuing the relationships of the head, heart and ‘sole’. By identifying pilgrimage as educationally transformative, one becomes more profoundly religious.

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