Every year millions of people will undertake a pilgrimage of one kind or another. They journey for different purposes, some seeking physical healing, others clarity, and still others a way to come closer to their conception of a higher power. The new series, Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler, follows groups of Americans as each undertakes a pilgrimage, documenting what they find along the way.
We are taken to Lourdes in France along with a group of wounded veterans coming to bathe in its healing waters, seeking healing both physical and mental. In this episode we are welcomed into a community of wounded warriors from all over the world, learning their stories, their longings.
We follow a disparate group of Christians, Jews, and Muslims who come to Jerusalem to walk in the footsteps of prophets: a young couple seeking spiritual clarity as they get ready to start a family, a Christian student who is deciding whether or not to stay in the faith following the death of his father.
We travel along with a group of Boston Muslims as they undertake the Hajj. We experience with them their joys and frustrations as they navigate grueling challenges and find themselves involved in what turns out to a as much a test of physical endurance as of faith.
Each group of pilgrims struggles to peel back the layers of modernity to discover ancient truths. These pilgrimages are never easy. They are tough both physically and mentally, and not all pilgrims come away with exactly what they are looking for.
The series also delves into the history of these ancient places, how they began and how they came to be seen as holy places. We learn the story of Bernadette and the apparition of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes. We walk the steps of Jesus and David in Jerusalem. Through the Hajj we are taken through the lives of Abraham and Muhammad, and the history behind each step of this particular Sacred Journey.
Feiler, an author and commentator on contemporary society, is an effective audience proxy, maintaining an appropriate reverence but keeping enough of a distance that the audience can get a full picture of the experience from an outside perspective.
Most importantly, these are the stories of people, people who are searching, hoping to discover some truth about themselves and the world around them. And it's through these people we come to understand the concept of pilgrimage, and perhaps are even tempted to take on a sacred journey of our own.
Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler debuts Tuesday, December 16th at 8:00 p.m. on KIXE Channel 9.
Chad Grayson has been a gas station attendant, sold video games over the phone, and even was the person who cuts the mold off the cheese in the cheese factory, but spent most of his career as a middle school Language Arts and History teacher. He is now a full-time stay at home dad and writer. You can find him on twitter at @chadgrayson and on his blog at cegrayson.wordpress.com.