Monday, April 14, 2014

Pilgrim's progress



I'm such a baby, dreading my trip to Paris. Kind of sickening, isn't it? A friend said to me, "You're robbing yourself of something." She meant I could be enjoying this crazy wave of energy. Really? I have no idea how to do that. Paris looms large, as it has every time my toes have touched the sandy basin of that landscape. Of course I'm not the only person to have developed a passionate relationship with that city.

This might sound pretentious, or insane: I'm not going to Paris to have fun and enjoy myself. I'm going because ... why am I going? Oh yeah - I've been called, since my 60th birthday. I've been called repeatedly. The city has been on my mind constantly. Now that I know I'm headed in that direction, I'm kind of freaking out. What pilgrim hasn't experienced a sense of dread just before setting out? C'mon.

Well. The thing is, I've practiced being present with whatever was happening. I've practiced welcoming my emotional states - whatever they are - knowing they will shift and change. It's a way of honoring my own true self.

I've practiced for decades, hence I can say with authority: I dread this trip! The dread is honest. I will not feel ashamed even though it seems ridiculous.

One of my spirit guides has suggested that I think of the Paris trip as a pilgrimage of grace, humor and lightness. 

Isn't that an oxymoron?

pil·grim·age


[pil-gruh-mij]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place asan act of religious devotion: a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
2.
Islam.
a.
the Pilgrimage, hajj.
3.
any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for avotive purpose, as to pay homage: a pilgrimage to the grave ofShakespeare.

verb (used without object), pil·grim·aged, pil·grim·ag·ing.
4.
to make a pilgrimage.
Origin: 
1200–50; Middle English pilegrimage  (see pilgrim-age); replacingearlier pelrimage,  alteration of Old French pelerinage


When I think of pilgrimages, what I imagine is the devotion of the one on the journey. I imagine hardship, sore feet, blisters and mishaps. To the pilgrim, it's well worth the blisters. A pilgrimage is an act of devotion. So there are aches, there are pains. We devotees are slightly crazy. I guess!

This book had quite an impact on me - I highly recommend it even though China Galland is a bit charmed by herself. She took a pilgrimage to see the black madonnas in eastern Europe. What a story!

I bet I'll have fun in Paris. I think I will especially enjoy seeing Steve, a friend who lives in London. He will be more than willing to get off the beaten path, to walk and take pictures. I pray for nice weather. When my friends arrive Saturday, that will increase the chances that I will be able to embrace the idea of grace, humor and lightness. Those qualities don't come easily to me. But the idea of pilgrimage makes perfect sense. I'm certain I've trudged a mile or two in the moccasins of the pilgrim in many a past lifetime. I feel it in my DNA. And so I'm off again, to a very difficult and complicated city.

May I walk into it with clarity and humor. May I lighten up! Maybe after the eclipse tonight.

Shalom.

A soulful accordionist at Eastern Market last weekend.


1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to seeing you too, and exploring the city of light. I'm not sure why you're dreading it, but hey, if that's what you feel, roll with it!

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