Pilgrimage is one of those words that is hard to define because it encompasses so many themes and practices: for me, pilgrimage includes a commitment to the spiritual journey, attentiveness to liturgical seasons, a sense of wonder, and space for on-going reflection. It’s a process grounded in place and in the context of community.
Watercolor, collage, crayons, colored pencil, ballpoint pen, writing, site-specific installation, and pulp paper are some of the image-making materials I return to again and again to explore themes, memories, stories, questions, and experiences of pilgrimage. I prefer to work with paper I've collected because of the meaning and context that marks on the surface bring, and the ability to layer and crop and rearrange materials.
In college, I engaged with the religious roots of pilgrimage through my school’s chaplaincy, when we walked part of the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. Learning to approach faith as spiritual practice–as processes we keep showing up to–invited me to see every moment as an opportune one to practice pilgrimage and respond by creating images.
The context and scope of the journey continues to change: sometimes it means traveling to a place traditionally considered sacred, like Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. Other times, the journey is plein air painting by a creek in my neighborhood. Sometimes, the journey can even be an experience, like writing an essay or moving through the rhythms of a day, a week, a season.
My current context of pilgrimage is Bethlehem Farm, the intentional Catholic community where I live and work. Our mission is to transform lives through the teaching of sustainable practice and in service with the local community, and we invite volunteers to serve with us in living out our cornerstones of prayer, simplicity, community, and service. Welcoming home with radical hospitality is at the heart of what we do, and the variety of work needed to sustain this mission of being a place of hope and renewal deepens my understanding of pilgrimage each day. My creative vocabulary expands in response to the rhythms of planting garlic, leading low-income home repair projects with volunteers, organizing the tool room, and planning prayer: these practices become teachers in my sketchbook drawings and inspire further explorations.
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