Welcome to the Houston Pilgrim
At the turn of the 18th century, Hasidic Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Przysucha told the following story:
In the village of Krakow, there lived a very poor and very pious old rabbi named Eisik. After many years of great poverty which had never shaken his faith in God, Eisik was called in a dream to make the journey to Prague, where beneath the bridge that led to the royal castle, he would find a great treasure of gold. At first, he ignored the dream, but when it recurred for three nights, Eisik decided that he had better make the journey. When he arrived in Prague he discovered the bridge was well guarded. Fearing to dig in front of the soldiers, he none-the-less went to the bridge every morning and lingered well into the evening.
One day, the captain of the guard, who had been watching him, asked in a kindly way if he was looking for something or waiting for somebody. The rabbi said no, but revealed to the captain the dream which had brought him from his faraway country. “Gold!” the captain laughed, “And so to please the dream, you poor fellow, you wore out your shoes to come here! As for faith in dreams, if I had it, I should have left when in a dream I was told to take a long journey to Krakow and visit a rabbi named Eisik. In the dream I was told to look in the recess behind his stove where I would find a great treasure of gold.” And he laughed good-naturedly. Rabbi Eisik bowed and hurried home. Sure enough, he discovered the great treasure of gold right behind his stove. His years of poverty were over and in gratitude to God he built a beautiful House of Prayer.
To Be A Pilgrim
What is it to be a pilgrim? Rabbi Bunam’s story contains all the elements. First there’s the call. The call usually finds you at some crossroad in life. It might be a grating dissonance that tells you that your life has somehow gone off the track. It could be a disquieting yearning that whispers that there is more to life than the one you are living. Whatever it might be, you instinctively know that it’s time to turn around and start looking for whatever seems to be missing—your personal treasure. Next comes the journey. This is a journey of self-discovery. It’s exposure to new ideas and new experiences. It requires an open mind and a willing heart. Finally comes recognition. You learn that your treasure can’t be found anywhere in the world because it’s been at home all along.
The Houston Pilgrim
Most of us will hear the call at some time in our lives. Most of us won’t, however, be able to take those epics journeys to sacred places. We’ll need to seek closer to home. We’ll need to look for our treasure closer to where we’ll ultimately find it. And it isn’t hard to do. Wherever you may live, you are surrounded by the sacred. You are surrounded by the people, events and experiences that will lead you to self-discovery and to your treasure. You’ll have to look, and look hard, but the answers are there.
I’m from Houston, and I’m a pilgrim. These pages chronicle my travels through the secular and the sacred. Welcome to the journey.