34: terminals

In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a shrine of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith.
A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.


All pilgrimages properly begin at the doorstep of your own front door. But I began to think about this journey in the various terminals that I encountered on the way to Porto from London – bus stops, tube stations, airports and car parks. Through the crowds you try and work out who is going to be your company for this part of the journey – is that huge group of Scouts going to be on my flight with me? What about that screaming baby?

As it turned out, both the Scouts and the baby were on my particular flight, and I was seated sandwiched between the two. Internally I gritted my teeth: ‘Do these people not realise I am about to go on a pilgrimage, a way of devotion and contemplation and their chatter and noise is disturbing my mental preparation? Can they not see I’m a highly spiritual being on an ancient, mystical quest?’

No they couldn’t. And here was a lesson I would learn very quickly: that pilgrimages aren’t always about solitude and thinking of a higher order. They’re about everyday life, rubbing along with your fellow humans as best as you can.

But that’s jumping ahead in the story.


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