Tourist and Pilgrim
Commercial and Authentic
Them and Us
As an enlightened student pilgrim, my task is to embrace rather than demonize the other
But my identity – my affirmation – must come from somewhere
I define myself by what I am not.
And The Tourist is such an easy target
The Tourist is loud and obnoxious
The Tourist collects pictures rather than experiences
Entertainment rather than relationship
I am not a tourist.
I am a student of art and history
The presence of The Tourist irritates me, and yet simultaneously justifies my smugness
But is it possible, if I set aside my prejudice, that The Tourist and I are seeking the same thing?
Something draws us to these places.
As our world becomes more disposable, perhaps our souls long for permanence
For things as simple and as beautiful as a door made by human hands and worn through generations of use
For buildings that have withstood fires, floods, and wars
As well as the whims of changing taste
For art that transcends time and space
Perhaps in a fluctuating postmodern world, we no longer know who we are, and so we look to the past to tell us
When my own story feels hollow the ancient traditions lend me something solid, earthy, human
I think I secretly believe God doesn’t like people.
There is something about wild lonely places that just feels holier
And the atmosphere of cathedrals is completely ruined by crowds and noise
Solitude is saintly
Church must be solemn
Humans are a curse, not a blessing – it seems a logical connection, sometimes.
So, as The Tourist and I stand together
Seeking something solid for our souls
I am faced with a choice:
I can inwardly fume against mindless consumerism and crowds, or
I can recognize the foolishness and grace
The wickedness and beauty
The tourist and pilgrim
Within us both