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From the Editor: Pilgrimage

Marcin Jozwiak/Pexels

“Despite the English language’s overstocked lexicon, no other word conveys the combination of movement and sacrament.”

As part of finalizing each issue of Spirituality & Health, we debate the cover lines. This issue, we struggled with the word pilgrimage. Personally, I think it sounds and looks awkward (maybe it’s the word grim in the middle). From a design standpoint pilgrimage is awkward, too—it’s too long. But what could we use instead? Just pilgrim doesn’t work—the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims come to mind too easily. Journey or voyage? Wayfair or wander? Peregrinate? Perambulate?

At the end of the day, no real challengers to pilgrimage ever emerged. Despite the English language’s overstocked lexicon, no other word conveys the combination of movement and sacrament.

Wouldn’t our language be richer (and our lives richer, too) if we had more movement-specific words? What about a word that meant going for a walk while looking at architecture? Or a word for driving in the country with the windows down? Or a word for riding a bike to a park?

At any rate, even if we avoid the term pilgrimage, we can incorporate the idea. A bike ride to a river and back. A walk that loops through several sites that have personal meaning. A drive to see someplace we visited once, years ago, and hazily remember as special. Pilgrimages are good for us.

James Jeffrey, a veteran pilgrim, shares his insights on page 38. Frances Park’s lovely essay on page 18 likewise fits the theme. New columnist Sarah Bowen looks to the grandest pilgrimage for inspiration on page 78.

Whoever you are now isn’t who you will be, and whoever you will be would probably surprise who you are now.

On the topic of trips ... we interview Michael Pollan, whose latest book explores opium, mescaline, and caffeine. As a society we’re lurching towards some sort of new understanding of psychoactives. It’s a fascinating conversation. Find it on page 44.

We also have our annual section on finding your purpose and making a career change. Whoever you are now isn’t who you will be, and whoever you will be would probably surprise who you are now. Be sure to check out that section. It starts on page 52.

I hope you have a wonderful summer. Write to us at [email protected] and let us know if you take any pilgrimages, grand or small, established or DIY.