Friday, November 26, 2010

Tethering and Un-Tethering

While out in the Sinai peninsula, I had a chance of living the untethered life. After all, there was nothing I could do in the arid wasteland of the Sinai desert. Nothing.

The gauntlet that I threw down to the "ordinary" life in going on this pilgrimage is living un-tethered, un-hooked from the daily obligations.

As I re-connect, I find that everyone survived and thrived without my being around.

It's all good.

Buen camino.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Wandering Aramean

Today's lectionary reading at United Church of Chapel Hill, NC touched upon the theme of pilgrimage in the land I just left. From Deuteronomy:

"A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and live as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression...bringing us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm."

Powerful when the Scripture points to where I just left, literally and figuratively, the last few days.

Buen camino!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Returning Home Yet the Pilgrimage Continues

Just returned to the States after a wondrous pilgrimage in the desert of the Sinai.

One of the things I learned was to be in awe of what is around the corner, or over the mountain, or through the gap we walked through in our time in the desert.

Next year: third week of November, we're going on pilgrimage in the Sinai again. More information forthcoming.

Buen Camino,


Friday, November 19, 2010

Back in Jerusalemn

The pilgrimage in the desert was wonderful, exotic, joyous, soul-ful, enchanting, and mystical. My camel's name was Aida, and I called her "Diva."

We traveled a part of the desert that I did not traverse last year, and that made all the difference. Warmer than last year as well, sleeping in t-shirt and boxers in the evening rather than long sleeve t-shirts and pants.

Next years pilgrimage in the desert is in the works: third week or so of November, flying in and out of Cairo, with focus on the Desert Fathers--like St. Antony--and Desert Mothers--like St. Catherine--and four nights/five days on camel in the Sinai.

More to come!

Buen Camino!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pilgrimage: Day One in Jerusalem

Greetings from Jerusalem. It has been a wonderful pilgrimage so far. I've met some wonderful people, and am eager to see what the Holy One is to reveal or is revealing.

Smooth flights from Raleigh-Durham to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Tel Aviv. I was picked up from the airport by a van--Nesher--and taken to St. George's Guest House, Cathedral, and College. Here, I met six of the other pilgrims, plus Jaqlynne, from the Netherlands (doing a documentary on German Jews who were refugees in the Netherlands during WWII). We all walked to Pasha's for dinner, with a table spread of food and wine. Delicious!

This morning (Sunday) there was a leisurely breakfast of meats, cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, pitas, eggs, hummus, grapes, olives, and other savory and delectible treats. Strong coffee helped me stay awak for the Arabic-English worded worship in the Cathedral this morning.

Soon we were off to see some sights: we walked the noisy and fascinating throngs of Palestinians in E. Jerusalem, walking through Damascus Gates toward Joffa St. We grabbed lunch at a small whole in the wall (more hummus), and then one of the other pilgrims (Debbie) and I made a bee-line for the Israel Museum. We toured the Shrine of the Book, housing the Dead Sea Scrolls, and looked at the model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. Then we ducked into the Modern Museum, which has recently been re-opened, and were fascinated by the modern and contemporary art, along with work by contemporary Jewish artists.

Dinner was back in E. Jerusalem, at a favorite restaurant, Al Azahras. Delicious. All the pilgrims were there. I'm one of the two youngest on the trek among the eleven of us.

Tomorrow is a bright and shine morning: meeting at 6 and on the bus to Eilat by 7. We cross the border into Taba, Egypt, and soon whisked into the desert-land of the Sinai Peninsula.

Buen Camino!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Leaving on Pilgrimage

Not sure what is ahead--which is the treat of being a pilgrim--but going to Egypt with the ease of grace to know all will be well; lives will be changed; and throwing down a challenge to the ordinariness of life, being open to the Spirit.

I leave tomorrow on Friday, Nov. 12, 2010, for Tel Aviv, arriving on Sat. afternoon, and then off to Jerusalem. From Jerusalem to Egypt on Monday morning. Then five days in the Sinai: two days in a jeep and walking, and three days on camel back.

Eager to see what the Spirit is opening me up to in the mystery of the desert.

Buen camino, wherever you may be,


p.s., pic of my friend Moussaa and Brett

Friday, November 5, 2010

Being on a Pilgrimage Versus Being a Traveler on a Trip

Found this fascinating comparison between pilgrimage and traveling on "Zero News." There is a difference between the two, though travel and pilgrimage overlap:

Of the three archaic reasons for travel - call them «war», «trade», and «pilgrimage» - which one gave birth to tourism? Some would automatically answer that it must be pilgrimage. The pilgrim goes «there» to see, the pilgrim normally brings back some souvenir; the pilgrim takes «time off» from daily life; the pilgrim has non-material goals. In this way, the pilgrim foreshadows the tourist.

But the pilgrim undergoes a shift of consciousness, and for the pilgrim that shift is real. Pilgrimage is a form of initiation, and initiation is an opening to other forms of cognition.

We can detect something of the real difference between pilgrim and tourist, however, by comparing their effects on the places they visit. Changes in a place-a city, a shrine, a forest-may be subtle, but at least they can be observed. The state of the soul may be a matter for conjecture, but perhaps we can say something about the state of the social.

As I get ready to go on a pilgrimage with School of the Pilgrim, these are good words to remember.


Buen Camino!