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And I am thinking about travel in general because a young traveler who has my heart has put on her traveling shoes. My daughter, not knowing exactly what comes next in her life, has bravely sold much of what she owns and taken to the road. She had a starting point, but no destination. This encompasses true bravery in my mind: an opening into the unknown, an act of faith, a trust in the universe and in a hero's sense the journey of the self toward the Self.
A while back I borrowed a book from a friend called: "The Art of Pilgrimage subtitled "The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred" by Phil Cousineau. His premise is that any journey can be a sacred pilgrimage if we choose (and perhaps sometimes even if we don't make this conscious choice, it happens anyway). Cousineau says, "Pilgrimage is often regarded as the universal quest for the self. Though the form of the path changes from culture to culture, through different epochs of history, one element remains the same: the renewal of the soul..... For the wandering poet, Basho, pilgrimage was a journey that embodied the essentials of Zen, a simple journey in which the path was the goal, yet also a spiritual metaphor for the well lived life."
And even for those of us who are not leaving our homes behind we can be inspired by Thoreau who made his daily life at Walden a pilgrimage, Cousineau reminds us. The essence of his journey was walking, spending time in nature and seeing deeply, being present. He was apparently inspired by an inscription from King Tching Thang's bathtub which read: " Renew Thyself completely each day, do it again and again and forever again."
And as a final thought about travel here's a quote from Roshi Joan Halifax's book "A Fruitful Darkness": "Everybody has a geography itself that can be used for change. That is why we travel to far off places. Whether we know it ourselves or not, we need to renew ourselves in territories that are fresh and wild. We need to come home through the body of alien lands. For some these journeys of change are taken intentionally and mindfully. They are pilgrimages, occasions when the Earth heals us directly. Pilgrimage has been for me and for many others, a form of inquiry in action."
So where will your heart travel this long weekend? How will you renew your soul at this cross roads of summer and fall? What will you truly see? I wish you safe, happy and fruitful travels.
Last night I wandered through the woods, carrying a jar of freshly made baba ganoush, following a delightful hand drawn map to find the back gate of neighbours, where we sat in the dwindling light enjoying a glass of wine. I think my adventures will lead me up a mountain to a monastery this weekend to find a new supply of incense. I hope to remain mindful so that my steps are pilgrimages into the unknown, mysterious adventures sewn together into the slightly tattered tapestry of my life.