According to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, “Be passers-by.” I take this as meaning that we are to realize that fundamentally, the world is not our true home, that we come from beyond, and will return from whence we came. Being a passer-by means that I may be enjoying my experiences and surroundings, but that I know that it’s just a show—there’s something more substantial to my nature. What I pick up here—riches (yeah, right!), experiences, eventually my body, and even memories—will eventually be discarded. We are passers-by.
My friend, Fr. Bob Griffith, has an excellent post on his blog about two different kinds of bypassers—pilgrims and tourists. Read this quote by Andrew Schelling he shared with us:
Only the walker who sets out toward ultimate things is a pilgrim. In this lies the terrible difference between tourist and pilgrim. The tourist travels just as far, sometimes with great zeal and courage, gathering up acquisitions (a string of adventures, a wondrous tale or two) and returns the same person as the one who departed. There is something inexpressibly sad in the clutter of belongings the tourist unpacks back at home. The pilgrim is different. The pilgrim resolves that the one who returns will not be the same person as the one who set out.
The only thing we can really take with us is the changes in our own being.