Painting: Alfred Sisley, Les Sablons, 1885
Vayessa, one of the great poets, said that when someone listens a narrative attentively, he will emerge and reborn. The reason is that the narrative effects permeate and go inside into subconscious rigorously cultivating its effects. These effects permeating into subconscious dismantle, change, reform, renew and recreate the whole old existence of humans into the new one. And a narrative entitled The Pilgrimage has the effects as Vayessa has told. The pilgrimage explores a wealth of life that helps readers to realize it on this journey of life by putting its messages into the subconscious. The wealth of life is realized when one knows that life teaches lessons every minute and the secret of it is to accept in ordinary life. Then from the title -the pilgrimage- wants to say that life is a pilgrimage; a pilgrimage to find the essence and the goal of life which is depicted with searching for the sword. Now let us review shortly messages of the Pilgrimage which deliver the reader to delve the wealth of life.
The pilgrimage is the search for the sword. The sword has gone and has disappeared because of avidity, pride, and fascination of miracles. Because of pride, it has to be sought among simple people. Because of fascination with miracles, it needs to struggle to recapture what was about to be given so generously. Looking the way to find the sword, it can be said that the pilgrimage is a path to wisdom. It can be identified by three things: 1. it must involve agape 2. It has to have a practical application in life. Otherwise, wisdom becomes a useless thing and deteriorates, like a sword that is never used. 3. It has to be a path that can be followed by anyone. Inasmuch these three characters, the path to wisdom is not an easy path whereof can be passed through. In other words, this pilgrimage is full of obstacles. And the great obstacles which prevent walking on the road of wisdom: a prison of the past. The prison of the past happens when someone had been defeated before and someone was afraid that it could happen again. Everyone has to face these great obstacles because everyone has their own histories and their past which is completely not perfect; they have their own darkness. None has defeated them, so everyone has own fears and anxieties. Then the battle to confront the past is unavoidable. Running away from this obstacle just makes wisdom has no value at all. Wisdom has only value if it helps to overcome some obstacles. The road of wisdom, therefore, is a good fight. Someone has to fight on this road. But if someone wants to fight the good fight, that person must view the world as if it were a marvelous treasure waiting to be discovered and won. Viewing the world as if it were a marvelous treasure waiting to be discovered and to be won is called enthusiasm. The enthusiasm means trance or ecstasy- a connection with God. it is agape directed at a particular idea or a specific thing. When one loves and believes from the bottom of his heart, one feels himself to be stronger than anyone in the world and one feels a serenity that is based on the certainty that nothing can shake his faith. This unusual strength allows one always to make the right decision at the right time and he achieves his goal, he is amazed at his own capabilities. Enthusiasm carries us toward our goal. When Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belonged to the children, he was referring to agape in the form of enthusiasm. Children were attracted to him not because they understood his miracles, his wisdom or his Pharisees and apostles. They went to him in joy move by enthusiasm. But one will find the sword only if one discovers that the road and the truth and the life are in the heart.
Having reviewed the messages, we can say that the pilgrimage is a pedagogical narrative. Its messages open a new horizon to read and to interpret life in a fresh manner. Many times, human always falls downs in one view of life so that he cannot see the other side of life. Staring only on one side of life makes one could not see the beauty of life. This staring is worn out by the messages of the Pilgrimage. The readers are empowered with fresh courage by the messages. Furthermore, through fresh courage, the readers now are able to dig life values that are buried within the life itself. Finding life values makes one underscoring life within a framework of superabundance sense. What is the pedagogy?
Pedagogy, of course, empowers someone by opening and enlarging the way he thinks. Pedagogy frees someone from self-minority. According to Immanuel Kant self-minority is an incapacity using his own thinking. Then its consequence is he is not daring to know. From here, we see the function of pedagogy: to make capable of someone using his own thinking. A narrative is also a pedagogy. The author of a narrative tries to address some lesson through the narrative which he composites. And the readers riding it are learning the lessons which later on will open and enlarge their thinking. The Pilgrimage as mentioned above through its messages enlarges the thinking of the readers. The readers find the life values which make them superabundance sense. So, if the function of pedagogy is to enlarge the reader thinking and to free from self-minority then this narrative (the pilgrimage) empowers the readers with fresh courage and leads them to underscore life within a framework of superabundance sense, we can say that this narrative is a pedagogy of life. And because of the author -Paulo Coelho- colors this narrative with Christianity pen, so this narrative has a link with Christian faith.
In light of Christian faith, life is a pilgrimage of salvation. Christianity recounts the story of salvation in two ways. First, it recalls God’s works in history: the creation of the world, the fall, the history of Israel, Christ’s incarnation and redemption, and the second is the end of the world and our ultimate destination in the afterlife. All of this explains to us the nature of the universe in which we live, how we conduct ourselves, and the final meaning of existence. But there is a second way to repeat the Christian story that, while acknowledging all the universal truths of salvation history, emphases the particular pilgrimage that each of us makes in our movement toward God. Indeed, the very notion that we are all pilgrims and wayfarers in this has been a major theme in Christian thought in every age and important contribution to the self-understanding of human’s race (Robert Royal; 13)
Furthermore, Saint Bonaventure calls and signifies the pilgrimage of life as Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (the soul pilgrimage into God). Itinerarium is a reflection of the human mystery viewed from the light of the incarnated words. This reflection leads way to the origin of man, his life and his death. The pilgrimage on the earth is actually traveling and withdrawal because his destiny is also his primer start: Christ whom we derived, whom we live for and whom we walk toward (Lumen Gentium 3). And as Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, this pilgrimage of life is a purgative pilgrimage. Why? God is holy and His kingdom consists of Holiness. The human being as His noblest creature, in the beginning, is holy. But having obeyed the Satan voice, the human being has fallen into the sin. And the sin soils human dignity as a noblest creature. Because of sin, the human being has lost his holiness. The sin corrupts and separates humans from God.
However, God will not let human beings live in sin. God wants to restore human dignity as imago Dei which has been violated by sin. So, God sends Jesus, His lovable Son, to expiate humans from sin. This redemption is done through His suffering, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. The wage of sin that is death has been taken away by Jesus. In Him, the salvation has come; the salvation objectively has already existed in Him. But though salvation has come, it does not mean that salvation is freely given to humans without effort on the human side. Salvation still needs to struggle. Furthermore, the holiness of God obliges that man is sanctified also, that is, separated from the profane, purified from sin. Then what should humans do? To Believe and to repent.
Believing and repenting is the essential thing to achieve salvation. Believing and repenting are started with taking in Baptism. Now through Baptism human being starts the pilgrimage of salvation. These two actions (believing and repenting) are not simple things that could be done easily by a human. Humans by his weakness and fragility always are easily be tempted by evil to reject salvation through committing sin and choosing evil. Then repenting and believing as an essential thing to achieve salvation definitely are the paths that must be done continually.
As mentioned above, baptism is the beginning of the pilgrimage of salvation. It is prepared by God himself through Jesus. And God has been waiting at the end of this pilgrimage. The holiness God permeates and paves along this path. Anyone who travels on this path is being washed by God’s holiness himself. The Christian as the wayfarers walk this salvation path as Jesus did. It means this salvation path has three characters that are suffering, death and resurrection at the end of this path. The Christians as faith wayfarers pass it by suffering, death and finally resurrection. So here, the suffering and death get the meaning. Suffering and death are not more nothingness but as a purgative way in order that human is merit to come and to unite with holy God. With Jesus, all is grace because Jesus is the Truth and grace is the divine reality. Truth and divine Reality, besides being the end of man’s itinerary, is also his preparation and his cause. Definitive access to it after the death must be preceded by its gradual fulfillment during life. (Itinerarium, cap. VII, nn. 2-3). That is why this life under Christian faith is a purgative pilgrimage.
Faith will find its beauty when it is confronted with events especially suffering events along the life itinerary. Suffering events can break our hope and our orientation. We travel in the desert of desperate. But with his Grace, the itinerary, oriented to the only goal that can compensate for the fatigue of the rough and long road, continues towards the supreme term of the divine Truth, which fully coincides with the divine Reality. Of course, the deserts of hope are reduced in the world, the certainty that only the truth that comes from God can assure all the freedoms worthy of man is rekindled.
The beauty of faith reveals the light of faith and the light of faith makes us capable understand the true sign of god presence. For sure, the whole world is full of divine lights, emanating from the creative act of the Father, according to the exemplarity of the eternal Word, which was from the beginning with God and was God, and came to this world to enlighten every man and all the man (cf. Jn 1,1.9). This, therefore, would be truly blind, deaf and mute, if he were not enlightened by so many splendors of the created things, if he did not know how to listen to the concert of so many voices and if, before so many wonders, he did not praise the Lord ( cf. Itinerarium, chap. I, n. 15). The divine lights are with the event passing in the pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage counted by Paulo Coelho helps Christians to face the events which have happened and will happen during this pilgrimage. The help which is offered by this narrative is the messages which educate its reader to refresh the way how they articulated life and to be devout to the commitments that have been made. Commitment is the source and the fountain of wisdom. The wisdom has its own pattern and determination which escorts our effort in searching meaning in this pilgrimage. Wisdom is found in the commitment, it is dug up in the suffering moment, it is always with virtues. Then, to find wisdom, nobody thinks that reading can be enough without anointing, speculation without devotion, research without admiration, prudence without exultation, industry without mercy, science without charity, intelligence without humility, study without divine grace, research without God’s inspired wisdom. (Insegnamenti, 11/1979, p. 976).
Finally, once again we can say that a narrative is the pedagogy of life because today more than ever to find for modern man the ways of a renewed and safe itinerary to God. The progress of the itinerary to God has therefore linked to the firm persuasion that the point of arrival is already somehow present along the path that leads to it.