Today we remember John Bunyan, 17th century author of The Pilgrim's Progress. The book is an allegory about the journey of an everyman character named Christian who leaves home to see the world and find the Celestial City.
Along the way, Christian meets characters like Evangelist and Obstinate, Pliable and Mr. Worldly Wiseman. Though the comparisons are not subtle, the story is a wonderful way to explain our story, yours and mine and what it takes "to be a pilgrim."
When I was 12 my mother insisted that I spend time each night reading, and so she put me in her room with the books she chose for me to read. One of those books was The Pilgrim's Progress. Christian became very real for me; his journey was hard, but he was persistent. The literalism of the story did not stay with me, but the metaphor of it all became the basis of my theology. We are all pilgrims on a journey, there are hills and valleys, often it hurts but we are never alone and in the end we will go home.
As I begin the second month of my journey without my mother, it is fitting that John Bunyan pop up. I never understood why she chose the books she did for me to read, but I never forgot that valuable time she afforded me.
Who has afforded you valuable time? Who and what have nurtured you on your journey? How did you learn to be a pilgrim? And most of all, to whom will you pass on the story of your journey?
My prayer today is that our journeys will be made lighter with the knowledge of the pilgrims who walk with us and the eternal presence of the Great Divine who lights our path with wattage like none on earth. And when we arrive at the Celestial City, we will know that we are home, that we have been pilgrims.
(The hymn above "He Who Would Valiant Be" is the only hymn associated with John Bunyan. Don't miss the words!)