Eastern Orthodox Christian pilgrim at Kiev Monastery of the Caves, Ukraine. Women often cover their heads as prescribed by Paul (1 Cor. 11:13). Many pilgrims wear all white. (Photo by Petar Milošević)
William Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson have a regular religion column in the Deseret News. Their latest article is entitled “Pilgrimage: A sacred journey in search of God.” They point out that many religions have their own types of pilgrimages towards a holy place, shrine, or temple, where the pilgrim seeks to connect with God. Truly, the Temple Mount, or current location of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, is such a location for several major religions.
Latter-day Saints also have pilgrimages to temples. Many members of the Church throughout the world still have to travel great distances, over a number of days, at the cost of lifetime savings, to reach the closest temple to their home. In recent years, this has improved as temples have been built in more locations, closer to more members.
The temple itself can also be considered a pilgrimage within itself, a journey from a lower sphere to a higher one, even heaven, where one comes to God.
The article notes the ritual aspect of many religions’ pilgrimages:
Most pilgrimage is associated with special rituals and ceremonies. Pilgrims are often required to don sacred robes and undergo spiritual exercises such as prayer, reading scriptures or meditation. Many pilgrims abstain from ordinary activities of life by fasting, sleepless vigils or sexual abstinence. Sacrifice or offerings are often required of the pilgrim, even if it is only placing of a flower or rock in a special place. In return many pilgrims obtain tokens of their pilgrimages — special clothing, jewelry, books, medallions or relics — which they proudly wear or display as symbolic of their spiritual status as pilgrims.
Read the full article at the Deseret News: