Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are We There Yet?

I was reading about a personal journey made by Gbenga Akinnagbe of the New York Times, in which the writer tells of his journey to Nepal.

There is a poignant moment that captures a common experience of pilgrimage--both an actual and metaphorical--of life:

The worst thing about the mountain was not the stinging cold or the steep climb in the thinning oxygen and on the patches of dense ice. Those things were physical; they were real. One can come to terms with the real and compensate.

No, the worst thing about that frozen beast was its false horizons. There is nothing as cruel as false hope, and this mountain handed it out in liberal dosages. Every 10 minutes it seemed as if the summit was only minutes away. The path ahead would crown, and there seemed to be nothing beyond it but blue sky. In my brain, I knew it was not the end, but my heart could not be reasoned with. Again and again, I cast my eyes down in order to move on.

Brown and gray tundra abounded, and a bleak feeling overtook me like the cold daylight washing over the mountains. As I reached the point I could not continue, we arrived at a teahouse.

I know that moment, that feeling, of "are we there yet?"

And yet the place where we are going to is just around the corner, around the bend int he road, over the horizon, almost there...and I am always glad when I reach the finish line, the tea house, the hostel, the hotel, the pub, with a deeper "AHHH!" and a lowering of the body into a chair, a stool, a bed, a sofa, a cushion.


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Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

This is the highest and holiest of days among our Jewish sisters and brothers: Yom Kippur. It is a day of atonement and repentance.

In the series of sermons we've received from the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, the idea of there being a sea of forgetfulness that we pour all those things that we wish to forget sounds mighty good. We forgive but don't forget, nursing those things we like to hold on to, with hopes of bringing a grudge against someone in the future.

Holding things that should be forgotten holds us back on the journey of life.

The sea of forgetfulness may need stocking soon.

Peace, B

Friday, September 25, 2009


Booked my flight today for Israel.

I will be on pilrimage from Nov. 15-22, going four days on camel, four days by jeep, and four days walking.




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hadrian's Wall

From Bowness-on-Solway to Walls-end, there is pilgrimage trail for those who follow the historical wall commonly known as "Hadrian's Wall." This is a wall that comes from Roman times, in which Emperor Hadrian created a wall that was to keep the wild Scots safely enclosed in their part of the world and far away from Roman England. 265,000 hikers/pilgrims walk this wall every year.

Perhaps it is time to go for a walk.

Pick up the latest edition of the Smithsonian magazine.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

End of Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, and the Pilgrimage of Time and Seasons

Last year around this time I was in the Holy Land, observing the pilgrimage of time, of seasons, in the life of two major world religions: Ramadan among my friends who are Muslim, and Rosh Hashanah for my Jewish friends. What I especially remember is being caught up in the sweep of women racing to the Dome of the Rock toward the end of Ramadan. Because many women have a major role, traditionally, in preparing the house and food for the occasion, they were streaming through the Damascus Gate of Old Jerusalem toward the Western Wall area.

The next day was Rosh Hashanah: Again, standing near the Damascus gate, I was not ready for the influx of men racing to the Western Wall, some with children on either hand running quickly, trying to keep up with their fathers.

'Tis the pilgrimage of seasons in the religious community that establishes many of the rituals of our lives.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The evening pilgrimage

The mystery of our 4 acres is how much changes--as do all properties--with the change of light. I am aware of the difference in our land and how well I know it between the full moon, and the times when there is no moon to be seen. For a pilgrim dare, I put one of our dog's on his leash and, in the pitch black, let him guide me through the ups and downs of the backyard, stumbling over brush and finding an unexpected hole from time to time.

This is how life is as a pilgrim: we need and search for points of reference all the time, with our footsteps being guided in an unknown land by the friends, associates, acquaintances, and complete strangers that the Spirit brings our way.

Grateful for those who accompany me, us, on this journey.

Buen camino!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Morning Pilgrimage

Every morning, right after I step out of bed, make the coffee and/or feed the dogs (depends upon the hunger of the dogs or the need for coffee), I put their leashes on, and off we go down the long "S" shaped driveway to the front of the property where the newspaper is tossed.

Each morning, the dogs find a new place to sniff and relieve themselves. Nothing is the same. There is a tree down now and then (we've got lots of them), a turn in the color of the leaves, a new smell where a deer left its mark, a stone overturned, a few leaves moved from where they were yesterday.

This is my morning pilgrimage. I am instantly reminded that nothing is the same day after day. Something in my environment, out of my control, has changed and is simply to be experienced.

The same is true with the pilgrimage of life.

Buen camino!

Pace, B

Friday, September 4, 2009

Croatia and pilgrimage!

I love reading the travel section, learning and re-learning about places and people I've long forgotten.

Today, the highlited Croatia, which reminded me of this famous pilgrimage site, with help from Medugorje, on the border with Croatia.

Međugorje ([ˈmɛdʑu.ɡɔːrjɛ], roughly Pronunciation respelling key) is a town located in western Herzegovina in Bosnia and Herzegovina, around 25 km southwest of Mostar and close to the border of Croatia. Today the town is best known due to reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary which appeared to six Herzegovinian Croats since 24 June 1981, and is now visited by pilgrims from around the entire world as a shrine.

The name Međugorje literally means an "area between mountains". At an altitude of 200 metres above sea level, it has a mild Mediterranean climate. The town consists of an ethnically-homogeneous Croat population of over 4000, and the Roman Catholic Parish (local administrative and religious area) consists of five neighbouring villages (Međugorje, Bijakovići, Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci).

It would be a fascinating pilgrimage experience!