Pilgrimage: Wyoming

June 6, 2022

After a stressful week of exams and final papers, nothing heals the soul like the beautiful scenery of the Wyoming landscape. On April 30, a team of twelve pilgrims co-led by Craig Kocher and Bryn Taylor traveled to Cody, Wyoming, to experience the culmination of a spring-semester Pilgrimage course focused on spiritual practices. The team stayed in the Thomas the Apostle Retreat Center (TAC), located in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains, and enjoyed the amazing hospitality of TAC co-directors Rebekah and Robert Mason. The peaceful setting of Thomas the Apostle afforded pilgrims time for rest and renewal as we walked by the river, along the nature paths, and through the labyrinth on site. After daily excursions, the team gathered each night to reflect on our experiences and to consider our connection to the natural world and to the Divine. 

Each day was an adventure that included picturesque drives with gorgeous views of open range, rugged cliffs, snow-capped mountains, and fascinating wildlife. The first excursion was a hike in Sunlight Basin, where local guides shared about the Native American spiritual practices associated with this area. On Monday, pilgrims ventured to Thermopolis, where we met buffalo, crossed swinging bridges, hiked steep mountains, enjoyed pools heated by hot springs, and took a detour to see petroglyphs. Our Tuesday adventure involved a drive to the east gate of Yellowstone, a hike in the valley, and an afternoon in the town of Cody.  Our last day included a characteristic Wyoming drive along the side of a cliff to the trailhead of Cedar Mountain and a hike to the summit, where we had breathtaking views. On our final afternoon, pilgrims visited Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, a World War II Japanese American confinement site.

The incredible team of twelve students thoughtfully engaged the spiritual postures that we had studied throughout the semester. Amidst deep conversations, shared silence, uphill climbs, long drives, and incredible vistas, we reconnected with ourselves and learned about our fellow pilgrims. Through daily hikes, the team re-discovered the integration of mind, body, and spirit and recognized how the natural world shapes every being. In the landscape of Wyoming, we experienced God’s presence and were inspired to cultivate spiritual practices that will continue to be a part of our pilgrim journey through life.