Two Kinds of Passers-by

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.

5 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Passers-by

  1. Could the words of Jesus be interpreted as, ‘do not become attached’ to the things of this world?

    Perhaps there is more here than meets the eye? Yes, it may just all be a show and I know we are more substantial than flesh and blood, but perhaps knowing this, we can allow ourselves the freedom to move in any direction, enjoying our mobility, collecting what we need, passing by the weaker ideals of our being.

    The quote by Griffith is heart felt. “The pilgrim resolves that the one who returns will not be the same person as the one who set out.”

    “Well, howdy, Pilgrim.” (Sorry, I couldn’t help it- the words of John Wayne just popped into my head!)

  2. John –

    Thanks for the link. Just want to say that I love the desire of you website/blog. And, of course, the content, too!! 🙂

    Bob

  3. Re: tourists and pilgrims: an enormous difference. Maybe we all start out as tourists, but by good fortune some of us may become pilgrims. A pilgrim has a destination.

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