“Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter in? The beginning of the adventure of finding yourself is to lose your way.”
In this quote, Joseph Campbell describes the pilgrim principle I call, “Getting lost and being found.”
My first trip to Paris (that I wrote about last week) was rife with “lost” experiences. After I recovered from the first day’s strangeness, I ventured further into the city. My initial ride on the metro had me traveling away from my destination and I noticed I was responding in Spanish instead of French when anyone asked me a question. After righting the wrong direction, I met two English-speaking young women on the train and felt myself calmed by our common language. Finishing the ride, we emerged from the underground to a miracle—the creamy vision of Notre Dame surrounded by cloud-dappled blue skies. My heart paused and I knew I’d found a friend in “Our Lady.”
There is something profound about stepping into a landscape where millions of pilgrims have gone before you. Centuries-old cathedrals are notorious for that out-of-time experience. The profundity reminds me of a pilgrimage to the Sinai desert where earth and sky replace mortar and stone. There I felt like Moses or Rebekah of the Old Testament might walk by at any moment… and that would be normal. It was yet one more example of the otherworldly sensation that feels timeless and unknown yet simultaneously known and found.
A similar experience happened while I was sailing on the open Mediterranean Sea. Our 50-foot sailboat and high rolling waves combined to create an ungrounded feeling and the sense of being internally adrift. On our 36-hour crossing, I could have sunk into despair, but the breeze on my face whispered something different. Instead of succumbing to the misery, I closed my eyes and asked for a miracle. I asked to be found. I prayed for connection and felt my toes grip into the rocking boat. Peace rose like the moon. When I opened my eyes, a single dolphin danced across the bow of our boat. My husband witnessed the miracle alongside me. When I told him I’d asked for that dolphin, he smiled knowingly. We had been found.
“I once was lost but now am found
was blind, but now I see.”
lyrics from Amazing Grace
In Paris this past fall, I had an inexplicable urge one evening to go to the area around Place St. Michel. Once there I strolled through the lively streets where restaurateurs stood on the sidewalk and beckoned patrons to come inside. Young couples strolled arm in arm and laughter poured out of open doorways and balconies. I knew this area well. I’d been there many times during the day. I did not feel lost, but I was slightly unsettled.
“Notre Dame,” came the whisper through the moonlight. “Notre Dame.”
Crossing the street, I stepped inside “Our Lady” and discovered a mass in progress. The music resounded in achingly beautiful strains. I listened in awe, tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat. Words I could not translate with my ear melted into my soul. Something shifted and the unsettled sensation dissipated. I had been found… even when I didn’t know I was lost.
This is the pilgrim’s path—opening up to the way of curiosity with willingness, desire, and delight. It’s about perspective and a touch of grace. Allowing ourselves to get lost in order to be found.
This week I invite you to get lost! Go for a walk or drive with no destination in mind. Pause at each crossroads and listen for the direction to take. Or take music along and turn left or right each time a song comes to an end. Let your curiosity lead the way. See what finds you and please share. I’d love to know!