What is the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim?
In England, I felt like both a tourist and a pilgrim. In my opinion, a tourist is someone who is just going somewhere for fun. I was mainly in England for a pilgrimage because our church choir was in residence at the Bristol Cathedral. For most of the trip, I would be exploring places that were quite foreign to me.
The pilgrimage began on July 31st, but my family arrived two days early in order to get used to the time difference. Those two days are the days I felt much more like a tourist then a pilgrim. All we did the first day was walk around London and I was able to see some of London’s most well-known attractions. They included Big Ben, the London Eye, and WestMinster. We even got to see a guard, which is what originally made me interested in going to London in the first place.
It wasn’t until the second day I started to get something more out of the trip. It felt like my family truly got to do something. We spent the morning at Platform 9 3/4 quarters at King’s Cross Station. After that, my family headed over to Paddington Station for some exploring.
In fact, the best part of that trip happened the night of July 30th. My mom took me to the West End to see Les Mis, which was a dream come true. That night I only had one understudy for Valjean. The moment the show began, I knew it was more then excepted. The way the opening notes affected me was how I knew that I was in for a treat. Throughout the entire show, I felt a ton of positive and negative emotions. Les Mis is just that kind of musical that gets better each time you see it. It speaks deeply in your soul and heart and there are no words to describe the emotional impact. The show is so heartbreaking, but so inspirational at the same time. The acting was brilliant from the ensemble to the leads. I even got to meet the actor who played Valjean at the Stage Door and he signed a my playbill and mom took a picture.
As far as being a pilgrim goes, they search for something deeper then a tourist. Because most of the trip was a pilgrimage, I knew that I would be going on a spiritual journey. It made perfect sense that I saw Les Mis the day before the pilgrimage began because both are spiritual journeys.
Moments that stand out in the pilgrimage are Windsor Castle, Berkeley Castle, Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, 10 church services at Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and ultimately Bristol Cathedral, and Stonehenge. Stonehenge was the Mountain-Top moment of the pilgrimage. The moment I got there, I could feel the sacredness of that place due to the atmosphere, which had dark clouds circling around it with lots of wind. Seeing services at Bristol Cathedral were the best because it was our church choir singing there. It wasn’t until the final Evensong that I realized just how transforming the trip was.
It was none of the things that we did that was the best part of being a pilgrim. It was the fellowship among the 72 pilgrims had for each other because it added meaning to each of the things that we did. Even today, I can still feel the same fellowship when I am church.
In your opinion, what is the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist?
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