We can walk around the Ka'bah seven times, or even seventy times seven.
But the real pilgrimage is along the path of Love, from the outward toward the inner, ultimately to that place where God resides.
“Neither My earth nor My heavens could contain Me," God said. "But in the heart of a loving servant, inside there I can dwell."
Ka'bah of the Heart
The Ka'bah is a holy site of pilgrimage. Despite its being a simple cuboid, it is undeniably captivating, even for a recovering cynic like this one. The simple beauty transfixes the pilgrim. When one's intention is pure and sound and without presumptuous expectation, the circling of the Ka'bah is transformative.
A day's canonical prayers can also be described in terms of pilgrimage to the Ka'bah. The five prayer times are likened to one full circumambulation, comprising four turns (one at each corner) plus the return to the place of beginning. It is at the place of beginning where one goes out beyond. There are myriad such connections for those who wish to pursue them. Indeed, the beauty of Islamic architecture was built on them.
But for this pilgrim, there is more accessible meaning to be found in this truth: the Ka'bah is more than a building in Makkah. It is also located deep within each heart. We visit that Ka'bah anytime we remember God. When we say, "La ilaha Illallah." When we recite our ritual prayers. When we are generous with our love and our friendship...and our time. When we are compassionate toward those who are in need (and aren't we all in need somehow). This is the pilgrimage's beginning and end: the heart. This is the way of Surrender.
So, here we are. If you have wended your way with us to now, you may have noticed we have circled the Ka'bah together: from the song of the reed flute through this one. What a happy accident. Yes, we come from...We return to.
May our hearts be pure and our intentions sound, and
May we be the precise form of love needed by each person we meet,
at the precise time each needs it,
May it be so.