Some close family is in the middle of ‘hajj’, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are supposed to do in their lives. It has remained a compelling decree (in a way that pilgrimages to Jerusalem for Christians has not in quite the same way) and seen Mecca transform from the already large city you can see here to something even bigger, capable of handling the many thousands who pass through every day.
I say this based on photos and stories because as a non-Muslim I cannot see it with my own eyes. I sometimes wish I were a Victorian traveller in disguise writing of foreign lands and exotic rituals, fooling everyone with my fluent Arabic.
I like the idea of pilgrimage, spiritual or otherwise – something in the human psyche seems to need it. We know of the religious ones; medieval Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela. Today people go to the places that have meaning for them; Abbey Road in London, the gates of Paramount Studios, City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, Ground Zero in New York.
And though we may not worship there, what is a commute if not a shared daily pilgrimage to work where we sit and search for meaning?