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  • In my early years, Pilgrimage started with a decision usually based on the desire to “find” something. It was about a geographical location, hard work, exotic and unfamiliar places. I was looking for wisdom, answers to life’s deep and complex questions. That kind of wisdom was always to be found outside myself. Someone that I or society had perceived to have these mythic, sacred and uniquely bestowed qualities would teach me, point me in the right direction or impart their insights about how the world worked. Such people couldn’t live down the block or across town so it usually led to a trip. But always I was looking beyond where I was planted. And always I was looking for what I knew I didn’t possess.

    Today, with some life experience, pilgrimage begins with an inner longing and an intentional silence. It takes an act of reflective, attentive listening to hear the voice of the Creator calling me to see some new nook or cranny inside myself where there is all the wisdom I need, installed as part of my original operating equipment. These journeys usually remind me that the first place to look for the Divine is within. (Of course it’s easy to miss the obvious when I’ve ignored my inner alert system and now am frantically running around searching while saying “Sorry dear Divine, I’m really busy looking for you right now. I just don’t have the time to see you.”) It’s about a willingness to let the Divine’s presence continue to reveal itself in my life. When I am willing to connect at the core of my being, the seemingly arbitrary events of my life tumble open like a kaleidoscope. The black background of my doubts is transformed into beautiful color filled symmetric patterns, if only for a moment but the energy of that moment can last a lifetime. Sometimes, that guide calls me away from all that’s familiar, sometimes I’m called to visit pleasantly and patiently at the grocery store with a neighbor or acquaintance that I’d rather eat dust than talk to and sometimes I’m called to trust Divine grace as the smell of my son’s cologne floats by and I hear his voice and feel his hug as I did before he died.

    The one common element of most of my pilgrimages, is that often I am on them before I realize that I’ve left. I find the universe to be quite the trickster letting me think I’m on vacation or I’m visiting family or I’ve signed up to share stories when I’m really leaving on another journey and the less I’ve packed the better. When I’m unburdened by belongings, I tend to pay closer attention to all that my surroundings have to offer. I find new skills I wasn’t aware I had. Outside of my familiar landscape, rather than seeing the unknown as threatening, I trust my curiosity to satisfy my needs. The “other” becomes brother.

    Once again I find myself on an unexpected pilgrimage. This time I’m willing to shed my skin and be reborn. That spark of wonder has found the explorer in me. Off I go!

    image flickr creative commons
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