These nights, my son and I read four chapters of Little Pilgrim’s Progress every night. Helen L. Taylor adapted John Bunyan’s classic to bring his treasury, “‘that gold, those pearls, and precious stones,’ a little nearer to . . . childish hands, which are always so ready to receive such gifts.”
These nights, I read as eagerly as my son listens. I don’t want to miss a single lesson about pilgrimage that this allegory teaches. Change is about pilgrimage when you think about it. I plan my move from point A to point B; decide I need to get there from here; I adjust expectations and off I go. Which brings me to some of the lessons this book is teaching me about change:
- Know the point from which I start my journey. Little Christian knows his starting point – the city of Destruction that lies on one side of the long meadow he’ll have to walk through to make it to the wicket-gate he barely sees on the other side. The journey of a thousand miles doesn’t begin with a single step. It begins when I’ve placed an I Am Here sticker squarely on the map.
- Expect pain, disappointment, sorrow, failure and despair. The slough of despondency waits. The hill of difficulty will slide into the valley of darkness – right after I've had a good night's sleep. I should expect to fight for the right to cross the meadow and indeed, to walk the way of the King. Little Christian’s exploits remind me that life is hard. It’s a battle to the death. Every day.
- Take community when I stumble on it. Kind words. A feather bed. Companions. Simple food. Fresh cold water offered with concern and care. These are as much the facts of pilgrimage as are the pains, disappointments, sorrows, failures and despair. Little Christian finds unlikely community along his way – almost as soon as he leaves the city of Destruction, shaking off the taunts of the other boys, shedding tears at the thought of Christiana; wondering if he’ll see his mother in the Celestial City. The king watches out for Christian – help comes when he falters. Other boys, true pilgrims, join him. Community is truly a gift.
Know my starting point. Expect hardship (and I really do need to put on my armour – now). Take community when it’s offered to me. Each lesson deserves more thought so look out for more Pilgrim's Progress musings.
In the meantime, which of the three lessons listed do you find hardest to accept/learn?