“If we are spiritual beings on a human path rather than human beings who may be on a spiritual path,” Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “then life is not only a journey but a pilgrimage or quest as well.” Our journey is a quest for meaning. It’s a search for fulfillment and wholeness. Such quests are spiritual treasure maps that we are called to follow.
What is the point of questing? What prompts us to undertake certain journeys? Is it to pay homage at a sacred site? Is it to explore one’s spiritual roots? Is it to find forgiveness? Is it to answer burning questions? Is it something else? Whatever it is, the pilgrimage is an adventure into the unknown, into the spiritual wilderness where we will face and confront difficulties and dangers, temptations and turbulence. Such questing polishes the rough diamond of the soul, bringing out our true brilliance.
As we see in many wisdom traditions, if not all, the pilgrimage is a strong theme, especially for those seeking spiritual renewal or healing. Moses’s people, in the Bible, wandered in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, and Saul converted to Paul on the road to Damascus. Muslims must journey to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, and Hindus travel to the holy river Ganges for absolution. These sacred journeys are journeys of transformation.
While the outward quest to sacred sites is important to many, the inward quest is equally important to others. This interior journey becomes a matter of growth and of surrendering to something much greater than ourselves. Here, we ask questions that incubate, spurring us to connect with the creative source of love. As social activist Fran Peavey observes, “A very powerful question may not have an answer at the moment it is asked. It will sit rattling in the mind for day or weeks as the person works on an answer. If the seed is planted, the answer will grow. Questions are alive.” Our questions become our guides, sparkling gems along the path, encouraging us to keep going and growing.
Whatever the reason for questing, we know the journey will lead us to spiritual treasures that will transform our minds and lives. The journey is one that takes discipline, perseverance, and courage, whether inward or outward. It stretches our minds, our bodies, and our souls in the process. As we embrace the path, we partner with Spirit to open our hearts, to take risks, to overcome fears, and to find refuge. Spirit leads us to uncover -- and discover -- the sacred jewels that we are. Such finds are priceless.