It’s hard to believe my four weeks as the Pilgrim in Residence at A Sacred Journey are coming to an end. Writing and reflecting on these pieces has become a sacred journey in and of itself. It’s given me a wonderful opportunity to reflect on and share what I continue to learn in this role of pilgrim.
When I wrote my first piece, we had just entered the New Year and celebrated Epiphany, the holiday that welcomes in the light. Reflecting on this miniature journey, I realize I didn’t know which direction I would go when I began. As the weeks flew past, my thoughts most often turned to Paris, the City of Light. I know for many (myself included) traveling to Paris is a luxury and isn’t the stuff of every day life. And, as I ponder why my musings return there again and again, it isn’t the extravagance that captures my attention. It’s something more powerful and in many ways quite simple. Paris is the place where I learned to follow the rhythms of my own life.
“Paris is the best city to wander around alone
because it’s so beautiful you feel like it’s hugging you.”
It was in booking a trip to Paris that I took an indescribable leap of faith and stepped into the great unknown as a solo sojourner. On that lone journey, I discovered what it’s like to have only myself to answer to. When I was hungry I ate… whatever I wanted. When I was tired, I paused… for as long as I desired. If I wanted to walk, I did. If the muse invited me to stand in front of a single painting for an hour or a day, it was okay. I got to make up the rules for my life. And, that is what I bring home with me: the rules for my life and permission to follow its rhythms.
A pilgrim enters each day on her own two feet with a heart willing to let the world fall in. She steps in with her heart of wonder and curiosity about who she will encounter and how they might engage.
So much of the time in ordinary life we enter our days shielded with our decisions clouded by what we think we should be doing or worrying about how others may judge us rather than how we can serve them. We live in fear rather than opening our hearts with love. We keep our beautiful selves hidden behind have-to’s and shoulds. When we learn to discern our own rhythm, we are better able to shed the shoulds and bring our best selves to the world.
Paris is a fabulous metaphor for this cloudiness. There the skies are often gray and overcast much like in Seattle where I live. But even on the darkest day, something magical happens as the day turns to night. Lights appear everywhere. It is truly magical to see the brilliance hidden behind all those clouds!
The biggest take-away I’ve learned from traveling is to make the most of each day. There is a multitude of beauty waiting at every turn. I can’t imagine there’s ever anything such as “seeing it all,” especially with eyes open to the newness that is everywhere.
In Seattle I never get tired of walking around our beautiful Green Lake. It’s less than 2 miles from my home and I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve circled its 3-mile circumference. Each time I see something new or different. And, I’ve come to trust that my personal favorites, the grey heron and majestic eagle, are usually watching from somewhere along the path. I only have to open my eyes to see.
My hope is that you will find the gift waiting for you each day… that you will know the wildness of stepping into a pilgrim’s heart and you will feel the peace of being found in the most sacred of ways.
What does it mean to open our eyes to the world each day? How might your life change if you entered each day as though it were a gift waiting to be opened? What if you looked for the sacred in everything?