“Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’” mountaineer John Muir once asked an interviewer. “It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’”


Pilgrimage doesn’t necessarily involve traveling, or traveling into the country. The journey is to our own hearts, and can thus take place in the poustinia (a sparse hut or room) of our apartments, or by walking through the streets of a city. Wherever we go, we go with bare feet—in spiritual poverty—and because we end up walking into the fragmented stones and sharp rocks of other people’s hearts, our feet get bloody.