I was having lunch with a friend and hiker the other day. A question was proposed as to what I think might be different this time around? Immediately I thought of what gear changes were planned, trail conditions, diet, and weather. All the physical things. I could tell by her expression that I hadn’t understood the question correctly. She was referring to my spiritual approach, the Pilgrimage. Have my goals changed now that I won’t be a thru hiker? At that moment I really didn’t have an answer. I’m so happy she asked the question because I had been off trail close to 12 weeks. I had purposely put on hold, most of the thoughts about returning to the trail. By this time my grandchildren were back in school. I thought about ways to improve my diet and lessen the weight in my pack. In the process I put off revisiting why I was going in the first place. It was time to get my spirit ready.
Before my first hike was interrupted I had a routine of reading, meditating and praying each morning and evening. Most of which was preparation to receive the days gifts with humility and thanksgiving. When I started walking each day I sought to go with a sense of wonder and mystery. I knew every morning that something was going to happen, maybe many things. But what? I tried to be alert and attentive each and every step. A day on the trail without that wonder and mystery is a day lost. A day lived with less excitement and anticipation. Days that are, sad to say forever lost. Without the right mindset I would have had a meaningless hike. Oh I would have witnessed some beautiful sights but there impact would be short lived. Instead I brought them home with me. They are part of me. Truthfully be told that same sense of wonder and mystery can be found any place that you find yourself. I just choose to go to creation with opened eyes and ears, feet on the ground, connected to my maker.
So what will be different this time around? Mostly it will be the same, with one important difference. The difference is me. I am starting from a different place spiritually. Remember there are two journeys going on at the same time. The physical journey and the spiritual journey. My legs and feet are taking me there but my heart and soul are driving. I’m further along the path with more and greater wonders awaiting. Thank be to God the journey continues…
Two quotes from “The Art of Pilgrimage” Phil Cousineau
‘What matters most on your journey is how deeply you see, how attentive you hear, how richly the encounters are felt in your heart and soul” Huston Smith/Foreword to “The Art Of Pilgrimage”
“For those of you about to embark on your journey, I pass on to you what an old Irish poet once told me on the cliffs of the Aran Islands: We should all be grateful for the beauty of this world, but more, we should take the trouble to get off the bus of life and put the soles of our feet to the soul of the world and see the sacred sites with our own eyes.” Phil Cousineau “The Art Of Pilgrimage” Phil Cousineau