Encounter God anew in a sacred space with like-minded pilgrims.
The Pilgrim Ways was established in response to the outcry of friends and family who were seeking an opportunity to step away from the soul-crushing demands of daily life to gain some divine perspective. We do this by organizing walking retreats to historically-significant sites in Christendom.
What is a walking retreat?
The purpose of a walking retreat is to withdraw from ones’ daily routine to seek God with greater intentionality. And if the journey is to a place of spiritual significance, it could also be considered a pilgrimage. In faith a pilgrim seeks an expanded meaning about self, others, creation or God. It can lead to personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to daily life with fresh perspectives, new priorities or even reordered values.
We lead walking retreats on ancient ‘ways’, or trails, on which tens of thousands of people over the centuries have experienced God profoundly or heard His voice afresh. These paths pass through stunning landscapes soaked with local culture, steeped in history and infused with the sweetness of nature.
But we do more than organize trips to inspirational environments; we design programs for spiritual transformation within the Christian tradition. We want people to experience time-tested pilgrim ways of life, daily practices that will contribute to abundant living. Besides hours of solitude and silence walking across forested valleys and misty mountaintops, you will have the option to participate in morning meditations and evening reflections with like-minded travelers.
We limit our cohort size to ten people to maximize the opportunity for authentic conversations. Our trip leaders are experienced spiritual directors, coaches or otherwise trained in Christian spiritual formation. Rich conversations flow freely on the trail and while sipping wine during three-course meals.
Nothing is forced; you will choose the extent of your involvement. We understand that every person has his or her own journey. Our goal is to simply set a beautiful table with delectable dishes that you can enjoy in your time.
Our desire is to create a space in the supernatural wonder of creation where you can encounter God and experience personal transformation. Come and experience ancient ways and discover paths of life.
How can travel contribute to transformative change?
Many secular scholars have acknowledged the potential of transformative change as an outcome of travel. In recent decades we have seen the emergence of transformational travel – a niche in adult education that aims to produce meaningful and lasting intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or existential change. It is a type of travel experience that results in a new view of the self, of others, and of the world. When a trip is undertaken under the right circumstances and in the right mindset, travel can produce a personal transformation that puts you on a new path to impact the world around you.
Transformational travel has emerged as a legitimate experience which holds great potential as a powerful agent of change. A great deal of research provides empirical evidence of how educational, volunteer, peace, missional, eco, religious, and wellness tourism can foster the process of transformation when coupled with responsible hosting. Psychotherapist Dr. Jeffrey Kottler, one of the foremost authorities and prolific writers in the fields of counseling, psychology and education, helped his clients (as well as himself) engage in therapeutic transformative travel. Speaking of travel in his book Travel That Can Change Your Life: How to Create a Transformative Experience he wrote that there is “no other human activity that has greater potential to alter your perceptions or the ways you choose your life” (p.14).
The transformational travel movement has identified three elements that can substantially increase the likelihood of experiencing a truly life-altering adventure:
Traveling prayerfully with intention and openness
Engaging in challenging physical and/or cultural experiences
Taking time for personal reflection
The Pilgrim Ways designs its walking retreats with all these elements in mind in order to radically increase the likelihood of facilitating a life-changing experience for you. While it’s impossible to guarantee, in faith you can follow the steps of Jesus who regularly retreated into nature to hear from his Father. To be an apprentice, or follower of Jesus, is to do the things that he did. There is deep wisdom for us in his practices and habits of life.
(Psalm 16:11, Acts 2:28)