Faculty member to discuss pilgrimage as homemaking

Denise Starkey

Denise Starkey

A faculty talk later this week will explore the idea of pilgrimage as homemaking.

Dr. Denise Starkey, chair and associate professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of the Women's and Gender Studies program, will present a faculty colloquium from 3:40 to 4:40 p.m. Friday, April 21 in Tower Hall room 4119.

The presentation is free and open to the public, and refreshments are provided. The 40-minute presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Spiritual homelessness is a way of naming an experience for many survivors of childhood violence. Survivors often have an all-consuming desire to belong, to find home, and to be at home. The attempt to find a community of belonging - a material, psychic, spiritual home - as a source of solidarity and companionship for the healing journey too often involves the survivor miming acceptable responses to their abuse and healing.

Traditional metaphors for God and understandings of suffering place the burden for the ongoing suffering of trauma upon the victim. Meanwhile, the mainstream, idealized mythos of home and belonging, spoken about in Christian tradition, also places arrival or homecoming in an after-this-world realm.

While some survivors adapt to a certain religiosity, others come to recognize that dominant metaphors, images of God, languages of sin, and explanations of suffering do not fit their experiences, so they search elsewhere. While there is a healing, and as Starkey argues, a holy quest at work, often this seeking and searching is misunderstood and judged. A false stability is prized over what is misnamed as instability.

Starkey suggests that the universal and ancient practice of pilgrimage can become a form of "home-making." Both the practice and the metaphor of pilgrimage offers an additional way of understanding home as more than a destination; a place that one returns to when the pilgrimage is completed. Instead, pilgrimage as homemaking opens up imaginative ways to explore one's self "on pilgrimage," as Dorothy Day expressed it. Pilgrimage as homemaking offers ways to explore that God travels with us and makes her home within us.

The presentation is part of a faculty colloquium series now in its tenth year. The series provides visibility to diverse research projects by faculty members in St. Scholastica's School of Arts and Letters.