Category Archives: Christian Practice

I’m a Pilgrim


I was in the Old City of Jerusalem, not far from the Lions’ Gate, when the reporter from CBS Radio found me. He got right to the point, “Are you a pilgrim?”

This was not first time I’d been asked this question. It was Good Friday, and I had come to walk the Via Dolorosa, spending fifteen minutes in meditation at each of the Stations of the Cross. Periodically along my journey, people would ask me, “Are you a pilgrim?”

I hadn’t planned this trip to Jerusalem in advance, but an unexpected business trip had brought me to Israel. So the first few times I was asked, I was able to answer quickly and easily. “I’m not a pilgrim. I’m just here by accident.”

But when you’re talking to a news reporter, you have to be a little more careful. If your remarks make it onto the air, all your friends will be calling you up to tell you what they heard, so it’s good to think things through before responding.

“No,” I wanted to reply, “I’m not a pilgrim. I’m just someone who got up at four o’clock this morning in order to drive an hour and arrive here before dawn, and then walk the ancient city streets of Jerusalem barefoot, spending fifteen minutes in meditation at each of the stations of the cross. Why would you think that I’m a pilgrim?”

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On the Via Dolorosa

I arrived at the Old City of Jerusalem near dawn on Good Friday. It was early – too early for any of the local parking lots to be open. I had come to meet a group of Lutherans and Episcopalians who were going to walk the Via Dolorosa at sunrise, but by the time I was able to find parking, they were long gone.

During the day, the Old City is packed. There are countless street vendors, crowded into tiny shops that open onto the narrow streets. There is no car traffic in most of the city. The streets are too narrow for even one-way traffic, and during the daytime they are jammed with a mix of tourists, pilgrims, and people who live and work in the Old City.

If you arrive around sunrise, the streets are quiet. The sidewalk shops are closed, and the tourists, pilgrims, and residents are still asleep. The morning sun glimmers on the dusky straw-colored cobblestones, and there is a sense of imminent expectation. Soon Jerusalem will be vibrant and bustling, but now the Old City is filled with a peaceful quiet, gently illuminated by the early morning sunlight.

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How to Lead a Guided Meditation

This essay will help you write, lead, or choose a guided meditation.  It starts with some simple steps for leading an effective meditation, gives some guidelines for choosing or composing a meditation, then concludes with two sample guided meditations.

Simple Steps for Leading an Effective Meditation

  1. Speak calmly, slowly, and with warmth during your meditation.
  2. If you are using a meditation that someone else has written, you should attribute the meditation to that person as you begin. For example, “Please join me for ‘Seeing the Rainbow,’ a guided meditation by Karen Lebacqz.” Continue reading How to Lead a Guided Meditation