"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." – Genesis 1:1–3
As a member of the Saint Michael clergy team, I was asked to consider leading some sort of pilgrimage for a group of interested parishioners. This was an intriguing request that, for me, necessitated prayerful consideration. In my heart, I view pilgrimage as perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event of the most profound kind. A time to draw closer to God, whereby I very well may be changed in my worldview through the encounter. It is a place to deepen faith. A time to step away completely from the world and step into a place of God. When I think of pilgrimage, I have this image of Christians in the early centuries of our church, setting out on horseback or wooden ships, to visit the Holy Lands. A pilgrimage can therefore also be a time of spiritual adventure, where we journey with God to visit his holy places.
In my first class of Old Testament in seminary, we met in the forest that surrounds Sewanee. We were told to go in silence on a hike. We were to go sit within the Book of Nature—the first way God spoke to humanity before a single word of Scripture was ever written. As the psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the handiwork of our God” (Psalm 19:1). It is true that God can be found in Holy Scripture and beautiful churches and lovely liturgies, but oftentimes, the first place we can meet God is the very first place God was found—creation itself. I have therefore been inspired to pursue and present a Spiritual Pilgrimage to Antarctica in January 2025.
This pilgrimage to Antarctica is planned with two elements in mind: spiritual growth as a Christian disciple and stewardship of God’s creation. In the nature of high adventure, we will board a ship at the tip of South America, and set sail across the Drake Straits. We will begin our time of spiritual adventure as we roll and pray on our voyage to the White Continent through the Drake Straits. We also are considering an option for those who would rather fly to Antarctica, to meet and board the ship there instead.
Each day I will offer times of morning prayer and evening reflection. I hope we will enter into a rhythm of spiritual disciplines that will frame our journey and days. During the day we can journal our experience through words and photographs. We will then gather to share a meal and stories of our exploration. We will end our day with Compline. This time of reflection and prayer will surround our unbelievable opportunity to voyage to a pure place of creation to witness a part of the world that only a few are blessed to observe.
We will be on a ship with scientists and experts. The leaders of our tour have experience and expertise in leading expeditions onboard ships in the region. The ship and crew will have top ratings for safety. They also have the expertise to create flexible daily expeditions in a place where ice and weather and water are ever-changing. We will “dock” in the ice or slightly offshore with the opportunity to board zodiacs or kayaks. We will not only witness the beauty; we will also have opportunities to be a part of it—walking among the penguins and seals, kayaking with the whales, and hiking along the ice shelf.
I, therefore, invite you to prayerfully consider joining us on this pilgrimage adventure. My prayer is that we will draw closer to God as we explore the far reaches of His world.
Pilgrimage to Antarctica Information MeetingSunday, Sep 17, 2023, 10:00 AM
**This article was written by the Rev. Robin Hinkle and was featured in the 2023 Fall Archangel.