I am in Israel, on the Sea of Galilee, as I type this.
I am on pilgrimage; an intentional journey in which I hope to find something, and also perhaps to leave something behind.
In The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau retells this fascinating parable of what pilgrimage is all about:
Long, long ago, in the medieval village of Cracow in what is now Poland, there lived a poor and pious old rabbi named Eisik, son of Jekel. One night Eisik was called by a dream. The dream told him to make the journey to Prague, many days’ arduous travel away. There, beneath the great sprawl of the bridge that led to the royal castle, he would find a treasure trove of gold that would change his life.
At first, he shrugged it off, pretending that the didn’t believe in dreams. But when he had the same dream the next night, and then a third time, Eisik decided that he had better heed the call and make the journey.
Several nights later, he arrived in Prague and discovered the bridge but was dismayed to see it guarded by soldiers. The rabbi felt thwarted that he couldn’t immediately dig for his fortune under the bridge, so he lingered helplessly. A plangent rain ben to fall. Up and down the riverbank he prowled, until he was stopped by the captain of the guard, who asked if he had lost something. The rabbi said no, but that he had come a long way to find something. The he revealed his dream about the hidden cache of gold underneath the bridge.
“Gold!” the captain blurted out. He couldn’t keep himself from laughing, then admonished the rabbi for believing in dreams. “What reasonable man takes them seriously?” he asked. “As a matter of fact, I heard a voice call out in an absurd dream just a few nights ago, urging me to take the long journey to Cracow and visit a rabbi, Eisik, son of Jekel. The voice told me look in the recess behind his stove where I would find a gold treasure.”
Shaking his head in disbelief, the captain warned the rabbi about the sin of gullibility and went back to his post. Rabbi Eisik hurried home and, once inside, searched behind his stove, and there found the treasure that ended his poverty and did indeed change his life.
So what does it mean to make a journey only to find out that what you needed was already yours?
What does it mean to search for what you already have?
And why is it important that you leave home, encountering hardship along the way, to obtain it?
I will write more about this in the weeks to come, but first, a few questions for you to consider:
What are you searching for?
Where do you need to go in order to find it?