Note: There is a series, Reflections
Along The Way, that is based on this journal.
You might find them worth reading, as they are shorter and edited down.
Walk with me
...on this inner journey as I follow an idea, dream, vision, hope towards a time when it will all come together. My hope it that as we travel together you will grow to understand the path I travel, that we both will learn more about our own humanity and our courage to go the distance. I know it won't be easy and many times, weary with the sameness of the road and the seemingly endless pilgrimage, not to mention my less than saintly company, you'll want to quit. Please don't. Stay with me that together we can make that final day sacred.
Up early on this first day and not at all sure I want to embark on this self-chosen symbolic pilgrimage to some future destination. In truth I'm half-asleep and would prefer to be fully asleep, warm within the comfort of my day-to-day routines. What does it mean to commit myself to being focused on a place in the future and to keep on “walking” in some ethereal, symbolic way? I don't know, but I guess ultimately any journey, external or internal, requires just that: a walking away from comfortable old ways out into the uncertainty of the open road, drawn forward by the lure of some far-off place. And so I start on this pilgrimage, alone and uncertain, an early morning sun rising over my shoulder.
Out on the road, and the end of the journey is so far in the future. Need to let go of anticipating the finish. Hey, I'm out here! I'm on my way. That's enough for the second day. In truth I’m rather pleased to be underway. And no, I don't know if I'm going to get there....
Today I feel at peace with myself and the world. I am aware of myself being part of the dance of life. Beyond meaning or purpose, I simply live, and for today that is not just enough, it is the all! Knowing that the road flows forward beyond my time of pilgrimage, just as it winds behind me through countless other lifetimes, fills me with a sense that I am part of the great continuum. And yet all my life I have been trying to engineer a break from convention, from routine. How often have I told myself that I was trying like a plane on the tarmac to get enough speed to become airborne, like a spacecraft struggling to reach a new orbit, or better yet, to achieve escape velocity. But I seemed never able to. Like Icarus, I fall back to earth...
I'm beginning to sense that the human is glimpsed in our dreams, reflected in our hopes. What I would wish for us is a moment that would change all of us into that which we long to be, that which we sense we are, that which in our finest moments we truly are: loving, caring, integral, noble beings. Within “the town” such dreams and hopes are labeled illusions, and probably rightly so. But out here on “the road” it seems that what they are is my spirit weaving its reality into the fabric of my being. And my heart is gladdened and my soul delighted.
[editor's note: one way to access the journal is to use the "find" in your edit and type in a term or phrase of specific interest to you such as: hope, birthday, christmas, love, loneliness, vision, dream, despair, longing, Easter, cynicism, joy, emptiness, grief, laughter, Frodo, prize, celebration, angel, woman, wine, etc. Another way is simply to continue reading, stopping when the journey gets too weary, tedious or too overwhelming]
Where has this pilgrimage gone? I've lost the sense of what I am about, of where I'm going. The commitment seems to have evaporated, and yet just yesterday, I was so keen: nothing mattered but the perilous journey. Damn! So often this happens to me--passionately committed one day and then almost embarrassed by my earlier enthusiasm the next. I don't know what to do with this collapse of all interest. The will becomes weak, the body weary, and the whole project seems pointless. Every part of me resists and I flounder in the swamps of apathy. Some days the dream is just too hard to carry . How I envy the Men of La Mancha, so out of touch with reality, so crazy that they can live in their impossible dreams, blissfully unaware of reality. I seem cursed with having a dream of the impossible and the clarity to know it is not possible. I'm going to sit by the road and curse my fate.
My hope, if I get myself up off my backside, get over my funk, is to be changed by this pilgrimage. I want to be blessed with life's gifts: gratitude, love, peace, agape. I want to be transformed. My wildest hope is to sense about me or within me a larger presence. Not just a sense or a belief in, but from that deep place of my own honesty, truth and integrity to be conscious of that which in our heart of hearts we know as the Ineffable. For these hopes to be fulfilled at journey's end would make the trip worth all the hardships along the way. And yet in truth, I'm not sure I am making any movement towards anything. It’s as if I’m sinking into quicksand being pulled down into the muck of discouragement, and I honestly don't know how long I can go on this way. When I try to extricate myself, I get sucked down even further by my own thrashing about. I desperately need a helping hand to pull me out of this deep demoralization. I should be able to get out with my own efforts, but I can’t. The best I can do is reach out and ask for help.
Looking back over the last little while, I see that I was caught between wild hopes and deep despair. I suspect they go together in some strange way. However, I do believe my prayers were answered. I did receive help. Not from some angelic source, but from the human touch of a loved one. I had forgotten what a gift and a blessing it is to be loved by another person. And I learned all over again how hard it is to let in a caring gesture, to be open to another person who understands the hardships of the journey, and to accept the healing grace one pilgrim offers another. With a refreshed soul and body, and much gratitude, I continue on my way.
The last few days have been flawless: blue skies, rolling country, good walking weather. On days like this it is so easy for me to accept my place in the universe. I feel like a contented animal functioning fully within the boundaries of its nature, and I think I could continue this way indefinitely--but well I know that there is a restless being within me that is not content with such a life. My soul prefers the rough slogging of confusion, conflict, doubt, ambiguity. My soul is a force of discontent, forever searching, questioning, demanding that I move on, happiest in the play of uncertainty and struggle. But for now, dear soul, let me be, happy in the physicality of living.
Somewhere outside the world of work, of worry, of responsibility, is the way of the pilgrim. I'm just beginning to realize this. I am simply the one who passes through. And yet there are good folk who show me the way to the next refugio, who wave a greeting, who offer me a meal and sometimes a place to stay. What can I give in return? Can I tell them about the joy in my heart when the morning is fresh and the air is soft? Share with them my doubts and confusion? Can I tell them that I walk for them as well as for myself? I see in their eyes a longing. "Wait one moment while I put away my tools, and I will join you," they seem to say. I wait; they do not come. Better for us both that I simply walk through their worlds, that in their mind's eye they walk with me over the next hill. At their tables they might talk of me, one minute as foolish, the next as an inspiration for themselves the year after next. In my heart I know them as brother and sister who kindly open the gate for me as I walk through their fields and cobbled streets. And I am grateful.
Blue skies and no worries! It is one of those days where everything is going well. It is a joy to be on the road. I have no sense of my point of arrival, simply the good feeling of being alive in a world that is bright and vibrant. It is as if the road and myself could go on forever.
The carefree world of yesterday is gone, and today I cannot accept the fact that there is no meaning or purpose in my life. How I would like to be able to crawl back into the womb of my Christian faith. The first half of my life was lived within that protective placenta where I was protected by a guardian angel, loved by a heavenly father, looked after by a beneficent mother, and for friends, I had the saints. And I lived happy in the Edenlike world of heaven and hell, devil and redeemer. Unfortunately, I grew up to find myself in a Beckett-like world of absurdity and meaninglessness. I dreamed last night that someone threw a ball to me. It went wide of the mark and I ran after it, only to find that the ball had rolled into an Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole. I tried to crawl in to get the ball, but the hole was too small. However, looking inside, I saw a baby sitting there. Off to one side in the shadows was the guardian of the child. Next thing I knew I was crawling into the hole and greeting the baby. Then I put my head against the forehead of the child, and we rubbed our heads together and laughed warmly. I retrieved the ball, returned to the outer world, and woke up with a hopeful heart.
Traveling along an open stretch of road, I imagine I can see far ahead, and I like what I see. I can see us being drawn forward into a new way of viewing ourselves and the world. I can see us growing to accept that we are flawed and imperfect, and likely for the foreseeable future to continue to beso. I can see us learning to be more gentle with ourselves and each other. I can see us one day accepting the possibility that we are a special and unique life spark in the universe, and that we need to protect, care for, cherish this wonderful creation. I could see us maturing enough to accepting our amazing existence as both gift and responsibility. I can see us moving out into the universe to seed first Mars, then other planets, and who knows what other worlds. I can see us cherishing this "pearl of great price," this blue planet that birthed such a phenomenon.
Today as I walk I’m more concerned with the past than the future. I find myself realizing I need to grieve for the failures in my life, to mourn the missed opportunities. There have been times in my life when I have been soaked with the black rain of despair. Perhaps it would be more honest to say I was almost drowned in my own anger at being unable to do more with my life. In this state of mind, it is as if I'm taken over by some pained, despairing Gollum who can only find relief in the destruction of everything. Almost as swiftly as this comes upon me, I am released and the skies are once again blue. Yet I know these same dark clouds are lurking behind the next hill, ready to soak me to the core of my being, and I don't know how to protect myself from such dark forces. Sometimes I wonder if this is a normal part of the journey, a cleansing of my soul, a washing away of expectation and high hopes. And I am left wondering what will be given, if anything, in return.
Today filled with contradictions and confusion, I walk as if in a stupor. Could I but rise above this, to see the way in a larger perspective, would I find meaning and purpose? Would I see a wonderful and fascinating landscape a tapestry woven of time and humanity, a work of art worthy to be called Divine? Here on the road, I sense only the great mystery of life and realize that I need to honour this mystery and acknowledge that for me simply going down the road is the purpose of my life. As for the larger picture, I will wait until, at the right place and moment, I find myself on a hilltop, able to see both forward and back.
Beginning to get the sense that rather than being alone on this pilgrimage, I am keeping company with countless others across the ages who imagined the possibility of something wonderful or transformative happening just around the next bend. However, for now, I’m simply searching for enough meaning to give some sense and purpose to my life. What I live with is the sensible conclusion that there is no hereafter, no purpose that we can connect with, no plan evolutionary or Divine. There does seem to be a simple reccurring cycle of life and death, one generation repeating the struggles of the previous. Is this enough to go forward with? Do I have a choice?
The road I am on is a dry, barren way, given more to parched flatlands than green valleys. However, I have hopes that it will take me to that which will be sacred, or will be made sacred by my pilgrimage. I trust its integrity. And it calls forth in me a ferocity I experience nowhere else. Besides, I am not sure I have a choice, except but to journey on and see where I come out.
Today is a good day, and I'm wondering what gift I can bring to that future moment. In some sense, I see it as a birthing, and all of us like the Wise Men at another birthing, seeking out new life and bringing our gift to it. I tell myself that there is still time to shape it, to make it something special, worthy of me, and a fitting gift for this new time. What can I bring as my gift? It would have to be molded out of who I am, made from the stuff of my being. My cynical iron that, when hammered and polished to a fine sharp edge, can cut through illusion to reveal the pure core of truth. My angst-ridden restlessness that drives me to find new meaning. There are elements of myself--my sense of hopelessness, my bitterness at the limitations of life--that I would like to transform. And there is an angry judgmental partof myself that scorns other people’s viewpoints. All of which I would like to temper with understanding and possibly refine into something akin to wisdom. Fortunately, there is more.to me than this. There is an open hearted gentle nature, a faithfulness to friends and a persistence and a patience that stays with a task until it is finished. There is also a playfulness and a funloving side, not to mention a willingness to try new things, but these feel more like the tools of the giftmaker that the gift. Then there is the deep sense of gratitude that I experience when I look at my life and realize so much have I seen and done; and the moments of love and of simple pleasure that so often fill my day. the good fortune to have lived through a time of peace and prosperity. Ultimately there are so many elements of light and dark that I have to shape and mold and carve, so that my gift will be one I can be proud of.
Some days, like today, there is no anguish, no turmoil. I simply am in the day-to-day of walking the road. Today I exist within the limits of my being and I am content. However, I realize that just as there is that Gollum inside of me that would destroy everything, there is also a longing that as yet has no name, but which longs for a life beyond the limits of what I know to be true. This longing cries out for the quantum leap, for transformation, for the second coming, for a world without want, without war, for a world of harmony, peace and love. Although my rational self knows this is not possible, I also know that it is the deepest and most profound hope of our species. It is this longing that takes people on pilgrimage. Perhaps I am in the thrall of some otherworldly spirit to believe in a folly of such wonderful magnitude that I gladly walk towards this impossible dream.
A certain laziness has overtaken me. I have found a wonderful shady tree high on a hill that gives me a wonderful view of the countryside, and I am quite content to sit here and look out at the world. Perhaps I will build a small hut for myself and stay here until the spirit moves me on. Although I feel a little uncomfortable just doing nothing-after all, shouldn't I be dutifully marching down the road?-,I am at peace and happy to have a respite.
Slowly getting the feeling of being back on the road. For the past while I have been concerned with mundane things such as care and maintenance, very important parts of any journey. And now, clean laundry in my pack, body rested, staff in hand, I'm ready to head off again. I know I could just sit here and the world would unfold just the same; however, I would be unchanged. And the reason I'm out here is to go down the road that is my life in a conscious way. I want to use the obstacles along the way to hone the essence of my being. And I'm out here for the adventure of it all, so that I arrive with stories to tell, gifts to share. So that, rich with experience and with the wisdom that comes from the knowledge of a life lived and a journey honoured, I can take my place with the other pilgrims who have come together to make sacred that moment of arrival at the threshold.
[Editor's note: This pilgrimage is 1000 symbolic days; hence the name millennium pilgrim. You might need to take a rest; however, perseverance is the mark of the pilgrim]
The monotonous sameness to the road! I think of an caged animal within. the confines of its fenced-in walkways. It moves about, but there is no progression, no change of scenery, and I understand why it grows despondent. On days like today, I too grow despondent. I wish for some chance meeting with another that would open up new possibilities, challenge me in ways I had not thought possible. Or simply be company. I wish for some happening that would draw out of me parts of myself I never realized I possessed. I wish for a moment that would fill me with wonder and awe. But I look ahead and all I see is the dry and dusty road; I look behind and I see the same.
The vision keeps fading and I'm left wondering why I'm out here on the road. However, the depression that so often comes with this is absent, and I'm okay with feeling that the whole thing is an exercise in futility. There has been a quiet shift in me. I have what I'd like to call faith that what I'm doing is important for me and even has some value. Not exactly overwhelming support, but for me a definite improvement. What is the vision that has drawn me out into this pilgrimage? I have a dream of people coming together in a way that would free them from their burden of remorse and guilt and anger. Then, a little less tied to the past, they would be free to move into a more promising future. I see a gathering of people coming together for a celebration of life in all its wondrous variations and manifestations. I envision a place where people gather to share their lives with each other, calling forth a gratitude and joy in the very fact that we are alive at this moment in time. This is my impossible dream.
Today the sun is shining and the road beckons, but I feel unhappy. Why am I doing this? I'd like to have a little project such as tending a garden, growing a little corn for the fall, maybe cultivating a few roses that I could give to my neighbours. I so easily get down on myself and simply want to give up. Or worse, I want to destroy any evidence of this effort, forget I even thought about it. I'm not sure why I am swallowed up in such morose thoughts. I ask myself if it is just me. Am I a melancholic? Is it my age? Is it turn-of-the-century malaise? How I can free myself from the grip of these life-destroying tentacles is the real question.
Feel like I am being buffeted by gale-force winds that are
me to the ground, threatening to annihilate me. Then for a brief period
they let up and I rush quickly forward, trying to gain as much ground
possible before once again the storm comes sweeping down upon me out of
nowhere. At times I simply cower behind a rock; at other times I stand
up, rage and rant.
At other times I am attacked by the black dogs of despair. Yet from some deep place inside of me I know that I must keep going. There is a point ahead where another road meets the one I am on. I sense that I must make it to that crossroads, for there is another traveling that road whom I must rendezvous with. And this is enough to keep me going.
Surprise! I am happy and excited. The journey as I see it is
of shaping and tempering the metal of one's being. For me this means
what makes me human, my weaknesses. And claiming my strengths.
Is my greatest fear my own greatness, as a fellow pilgrim suggested?
As I walk along the road, my understanding of the way grows more profound.
I can't change the world, but I can greet in a compassionate way those I meet along the way. I'm not sure I can help other travelers, but I can listen to them and respect the way they have taken. It is possible that by journey's end, I will have not just tempered my being, but will have changed the dross of my human existence into the essence of pure humanity.
Not sure what is happening. But it feels good, promising,
than I had expected (so naturally I am suspicious). I feel--and I don't
want to say “sense” because that would be too much--but I
do feel that
other forces are helping me, moving me along. I'm not saying they are
However, a few things seem to be happening that, if I wasn't a
skeptic, might convince me the universe is conspiring to help me. I
it hard to trust such possibilities.
I confess that I get a little frightened. Perhaps all I feel comfortable with is an awareness that things are opening up. There appears to be open road ahead and warm winds pushing me forward.
I sense that I'm on the brink of becoming that which I always dreamed of being. At the same time I tell myself this is simply wishful thinking and in a few days I'll be back to my usual plod-along, mopey, angst-ridden self. Suddenly I find myself rather fond of that old self. I wonder if this is what a butterfly might feel about its old caterpillian existence as it emerges, at first frightened and awkward, only to be overwhelmed by what it has become and the new vistas that lay open in front of it. "May this be the day your dreams come true," says a voice in my head, and I find myself stopped in my tracks. "Can such a thing really happen to me?" I ask. I know from experience that the day after tomorrow I'm going to have to face the collapse of my dreams and hopes. That’s the way it's always been in the past. And each time, I pull myself up out of the depths of my last failure and soldier on. But I'm dreadfully weary of that treadmill. In good faith I have let the dream live in me, and now it is time to let myself live within the dream.
I feel like I'm walking through fields of golden grain, where I have never been before. And dare I say it, part of me longs to be back in those old places, traveling along that familiar road of angst and melancholia. All I know is that I am different, and perhaps that is why everything about me seems different. And yet I find myself unable to talk directly about it. I feel frightened by what is looming before me. Whereas before I found myself wandering through endless swamplands of depression and meaninglessness, now I feel myself flying through roiling clouds of unknowing that seem imbued with a translucent light. Perhaps no more is required of me than to wait until the cloud is burned away by the sunlight-and to try to keep flying.
I feel like I'm back with my feet on the ground, and it feels
Need to keep my mind on the goal of this pilgrimage. I'm traveling
a point in time--not simply to record my mood shifts and my states of
but to pilgrimage. What does that mean? I see it as a way to prepare
for a moment in the future that will have the same significance,
in time rather than in space, of the shrine city, the sacred city, the
It is a way to make this passage through time meaningful, indeed sacred.
I'm certainly aware of quite profound inner changes since I first started. I'm also aware that I feel myself in process. All of which is better than simply passing the time or letting time pass by me. I'm changing in ways I have no knowledge of. But that doesn’t matter. In fact that suspense, that not knowing and yet trusting, that hoping and at the same time preparing for disappointment is what a pilgrimage is all about. “And of course there is more,” murmurs my soul, and then refuses to say anything else.
I've been on this pilgrim's route for countless days. Much has happened. And much more seems to be about to happen. A storm is forming on the horizon. Something seems to be coming towards me. Even the terrain is changing. I'm not sure what is approaching. Things seem to be opening up as I commit myself more deeply to the journey. However I can't seem to find the words to express my state, and this I find most aggravating....
It isn't so bad when I'm out on the road. But in the middle of the night, when I lie awake, my life spread out before me, everything seems pointless and worthless. The pilgrimage then seems like childish make-believe. Night-time teaches me that people do horrible things, that high hopes and good intentions most often end up going awry. I lie there in the dark knowing death is somewhere down the road. I believe it is like this for each of us when we wake to those lonely-middle-of-the-night times, and find ourselves powerless to fend off the painful truth. Then, as morning comes we put on our cheery masks, ready for another day of productive busyness. These contrary truths of night and day, I accept. Yet I’d like a better teacher. Not one who pumps me up with statements about the greatness of the human spirit, the challenge of being alive, the promises of a caring God. Or analyzes endlessly the horrors of the night. But one who would teach me how to walk in a quiet way and reach out, not with false hope or promises, but as best I can with a little human compassion and understanding for those who walk with me for a short time on this earth.
Today is All Saints Day. I remember in what now seems like another life, how I wanted to be a saint. Instead I'm a complaining pilgrim heading down the road. I would like to be able to say that I am changing, that I am transforming. Why? Because even though I've lived my life an ordinary man, with everyman's fears and struggles, hopes and longings, disappointments and failures, part of me still wants to be a saint. And so I journey on, hoping that on that day of arrival, I will be changed if not transformed. "Not bloody likely!" says that know-it-all voice inside my head. Yet I go on. And the simple act of heading down the road feels like a wonderful act of defiance, that puts the lie to that know-it-all inner voice of reason. Today I stride along, my head held high. After all, anyone crazy enough to be out here has to be a saint.
Today I'm struggling once again with the possibility that there is no celestial city, telling myself there is only this present moment, and asking myself how I can be in it. Can I put on hold what is at journey’s end and simply be here more fully? There have been times when I have achieved this quiet miracle. It is a delicious way to be. Then all too soon the feeling fades and once again I find myself speculating if there is any point to what I am doing. But there is some obsessive urge that drags me out in quest of that which I know I will not find, in quest of that which does not exist. Granted, there is the possibility that the quest itself will bring it into existence, and it will in turn find me. And so I head down the road, mildly comforted by my willingness to allow a glimmer of possibility to enter into my ruminations.
[Editor's note: Loosing your concentration.
time for a break. Or you could
get a cup of coffee and keep going.]
Today I'm wondering whether I am even on the right road. Did I miss a turnoff back a ways? Nothing is showing on the horizon, and there are no road markers. I don't know which way to turn. Heading on seems pointless, going back impossible, and to remain here feels unbearable. I sometimes think I'm a character in a book that doesn't have a story, only a series of happenings in which there is no antagonist, no conflict, no action, no resolution. "Get a life." The words echo in my ears. I seem to have lost mine somewhere back on the road. Is this the fate that awaits us in the second half of life? Yet I've come a long way to get this far. And I sense that I stand at the edge of a divide. What next? Do I create the what-next, or do I simply wait for it to happen? This feels like a crucial moment. And although I find it hard right now to even utter the word, I need to trust: not only the universe's but my own powers.
Today I'm feeling a little more clarity what my pilgrimage is all about: to live holding both extremes-belief and disbelief, limitation and possibility, weakness and strength, beauty and ugliness, love and hate, youth and age, dream and reality, life and death. To embrace them without fear, as they rise up within me, or come over me from I know not where. So often in the past I have accepted one and denied the other. Or rather, worshipped one and demonized the other. Or simply allowed them to wage open warfare across the battlefield of my being. Now I'm beginning to realize that they are both part of my world and both have their rightful place. Just as day and night, each in their own way, offer their gifts to the traveler, so too do these opposites that pull and push at me have their role in my life. My challenge is to embrace them both in all their mystery, and even more important, to be open to their unique gifts
Who am I becoming? I'd like to think that I’m becoming more the voice of the eternal pilgrim who longs for that faraway something that he senses is coming into being around the next bend, over the next hill. I see it as unique, special, powerful, not of itself only but emerging out of what we bring to it. I foresee a moment created out of our sense of what is right, recreating the world as it was meant to be. Fueled by our outrage that we have allowed ourselves to be victimized by the worst elements of our nature, one day all of us rise up and say, "Enough! This is foolishness, sheer unadulterated human folly. Stop.” I can foresee this moment coming out of our deepest longing for what is just and right, arising from our heartfelt sympathy for the downtrodden and a simple human sense of caring. I can foresee a birth in the human heart of compassionate love.
I am so familiar with what is human in me: my weaknesses, my limitations, my failures. Are there any elements in me that that could be called Divine? None! My cynical voice wants to be very clear about that fact. However, I want to walk with the question; let it hang around my stiff neck like a healing poultice and soften my rigid mindset of what I know to be so. Sometimes I entertain the possibility that I might stumble upon the Divine within the deep dark void of my silent repose.
Today I sense that I am walking through invisible swirling currents that push me forward and back, at times threatening to blow me off my feet, at other times setting me quivering with some sort of inexpressible excitement.
The winds are indeed whirling about, not blowing from any one direction, and once again I am aware of how vulnerable we are to forces unseen. At times they seem like infections of the mind, like viruses, and we have no immune system strong enough to protect ourselves. Perhaps the one response most damaging is to fear them and then to resist them. At other times they seem to be forces of evolution pushing us ever onward. For me the question is can I do anything, change anything, or are the forces too strong at present to be affected by anyone's actions? On a more personal level, what can I do that my own life might be fulfilled? I continue to walk the road, aware of the winds of change, but the question dogs my every step. What can I do that will make the world a better place?
I'm feeling pretty good today. Heading down the road with not too much on my mind, and the black hounds are neither nipping at my heels nor baying in the distance. In other words, a good day to be here. And I am okay about this being a solitary pilgrimage; in fact, along this particular road we are all solitary pilgrims. And on days like today I let myself dream of that point of arrival where we all meet and share our experiences of our pilgrimage. I imagine us gathered in a great hall, a huge fire roaring in the fireplace, food and drink enough for all and each of us telling how we managed, with perhaps more than a little luck, to make our way here, applauding each other's struggles as we recognize the same steep inclines, the same treacherous mountain passes, the dangerous creatures in the underbrush, the fierce storms. It would be a moment of gathering where we could pause, catch our breath, get our bearings, then return to the path down which our lives have taken us, renewed and refreshed by our coming together.
I'm suddenly aware of how far off the beaten track my pilgrim's route has taken me. It's not that I have any doubts that I may have lost my way. I know this is my way. However I marvel at the number of people who flock to other routes, who seem to travel along so blissfully secure in their belief, so absolute in their righteousness. And here I stumble along, surrounded by confusion and disbelief; at best able to acknowledge only that my way lies in a simple trust in the unknown mystery of existence. It seems to me that I see too clearly the reality of the human situation, yet struggle to find a meaning and a purpose in what can only at best be described as human folly. And yes, I suspect that I am totally blind to my own self-righteous and judgmental nature. At times I feel like a pioneer, exploring virgin territory in search of an Eldorado. At other times I see myself as a postmodern everyman, set free from the bonds of religious belief to go in search of a new God.
Day 258 Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve I desire to stop and to enter the town and there totally, unashamedly return to the Church of my youth, to sit in the back pew, to listen to the simple hymns that sing of a birth of a divine child. To put aside my disbelief and with joyful heart walk up to the altar and receive the Eucharist, to return to my seat secure in the knowledge that within me is the presence of Christ, and with childlike innocence pour out my heart to him. I ask him what happened across all those years that we had grown apart. I tell him how much I miss our old ways of being together. I tell him about my journey towards my own truth and my struggle to mature into my full manhood. I tell him of how tender are my feelings for him and his church and for all the wonderful things it offers its followers. And I hear his words to me. “Dearest one, your way has been honest and pure. And on this special eve I give you a gift-that which you have longed for for so long and struggled so gallantly to bring into your world-a new life as special and Divine as that which was born in Bethlehem."
Today I 'm back on the road and a little bewildered after such a wonderful moment in town in which everything came to pass just as I had hoped it would. I cannot not believe. And I can only stand in awe and wonderment. Maybe what I need right now is simply to rest. To find a nice protected spot under a tree and lie down, rest, gaze out at the even horizon, and simply be. And to give thanks for the miracle of yesterday.
Can you believe it? I wake up being attacked the black dogs of hopelessness and despair. Usually I allow myself to be mauled by them until they tire of their sport and retire to the dark woods from whence they came. Today I beat them off. It felt very good! Despite my often dark views of the world, regardless of what lies behind or in front of me, at this present moment I am alive and well. This is more than enough.
I tell myself that the town with its courtesies and conventions at least offers some diversion. Out here there is simply the empty road. When I started out, I had thought that out here, away from the distractions of the town, my own inner source of being would bring forth the eternal essence, the Divine presence. Instead it revealed only the void within. Where I had hoped to find wisdom, insight, vision, revelation, I found only silence. However, I find in this silence peace and contentment, and I believe that what is new and original will be found in this fertile space, this fecund emptiness.
[Editor: Time to take a break. Still a long ways to go]
In the past few days I have met other pilgrims on the road, each struggling not to be left behind. In walking a ways with them, I have found how easily I frighten, how quickly I run, trying to keep sacred my own journey and my own way. Then I realize that they, too, carry hopes and visions, and with good heart they would draw me into their pilgrimage. Can I retain my own sense of purpose, my own integrity as I travel with them? Can I share the road with other pilgrims? Can I join with them, share what I have, be open to what they bring on the journey? Can I give to them what I have gleaned along the way, offering my gifts, trusting that they will offer theirs, that together we will all arrive with more than any one of us could possibly have imagined?
Not even sure what day this is. Not that it matters. I'm on the road and once again reaching deep within myself. Sometimes I meet others, get pulled off my path and lose my sense of what I am about. And so I remind myself that this is but one road across the inner terrain that the soul is called to traverse. Many travel it with maps charted by saints and prophets. For whatever reason, I need to travel not bound to a map, but to follow some inner compass. I tell myself to be careful that I don’t get distracted by wishful thinking about hereafters, about angels, about God. I need simply to be true to what I can fathom of the great mystery that fills existence, to acknowledge that I have a very limited view of the world, that there is much that I don't know or understand. To acknowledge that there is within me a desperate hope that the world will one day be a better place. The harder task is be equally open to the possibility that the world will continue long after I'm gone in its same wonderful and chaotic manner.
I am most comfortable out on the road, meeting myself in the myriad forms that seem to be part of our human nature, and doing my best to say over and over again, "Is this me? Am I really like that?” Well, come over and sit down beside my fire, and let's get to know one another. Maybe before the fire goes out we will feel comfortable enough with one another to shake hands or even, heaven forbid, to embrace each other.
For the last few days, reflecting over my life, I’ve been struck by my limitations. I had thought, back when I was young and eager, that I could do anything I put my mind to. Over the years I have put all of my skill and ability into many endeavours, and in all of them have come up short. I had at one time thought I had special gifts, talents, but after putting myself to the test, I have come up with the limits of my being. I am one of those little guys without great gifts, without the awareness or quality of character to be a great leader. My one claim to fame, if so it could be so labeled, seems to be that I see myself as fully human, with all the weaknesses, foibles, idiosyncrasies, hopes and longings that our species is heir to.
I have suffered the normal pains, anguishes, indignities of the human condition. I also acknowledge I have enjoyed the fullness of a loving relationship, good friends I can call on, and the good fortune of satisfying work. And yet like all others of my restless species I want more out of life than I have now. I would like to be connected with that deep source of being that some might call God. However, for me that inner temple, that hallowed space where I would hope to find the source of all being doesn’t exist. When I turn within,I experience only emptiness. And so I journey down the road, hoping that one day when I least expect, the emptiness will be filled.
I'm not sure exactly where I am or what is happening. I feel once again that forces around me are taking me up, and I feel excited. The wind is rising, pushing me along. I'm on high open ground. There is a sense of possibility. More than that, I feel very good. I feel alive, transparent and cleansed, and in some way less my own person. In some strange, I am becoming a part of the road. I feel open to a larger power, a deep inner force. And that presence is open to me.
As I look down the road, I wonder what honestly I can expect from this journey. Perhaps what is required of me is faith in the journey and a trust in what I am about. .Yet at times like this, I find the going gets very tedious. I suffer from a belief that nothing will change, that I will drift into old age fretting my life away, with an aching heart that wakes me up in the dark hours of the night, crying out to be called into a larger life. What would I like to see come of my pilgrimage towards that sacred moment? An end to my heartache.
Today is my birthday. I'm glad to have been born into this time and this place. Each generation has a task, and is judged by how well they measure up it. The task for my parents was to fight against fascism in World War II. For my generation, who knows for sure? Is it putting to rest the old ways of seeing God, the world, each other and ourselves? Letting go of the old forms, outmoded structures, ossified belief systems? Is it a dying to all that we once held true, that gave meaning to our lives and purpose to our days? Is it bearing the chaos and confusion of these times, that out of the crucible of change we can become more truly human, and within that alchemy of uncertainty and pain become more Divine? On this, my birthday, I dedicate myself to all that is to be done. Not simply walking the road, but preparing the way.
I believe if I have any claim to fame it is that I am an ordinary, middle of the road, average Joe. Even though I would like to think otherwise, this is closest to the truth of who I am. Sometimes I think I have something important to say, some wonderful insight to offer the human situation, only to utter some banality. Which proves my point. I set out on this pilgrimage wanting to make the moment sacred by what I bring to it. But I can't for the life of me find what is sacred in my existence. I find my life neither inspired nor visionary. True, I do keep expecting something special to enter this world we inhabit. It is that hope, that bit of wishful thinking, that takes me out on pilgrimage. I find myself a contradiction.
Today I realize what an act of faith it is to keep heading down the road with some expectation that there will be an arrival, a passing through the gates, a moment of grace. What will it be like? What am I able to imagine? I can imagine sharing with my friends a profound and special vigil. I can see myself setting out the next day a happier, more contented man. For humanity, I'd like to imagine something wonderful happening--great numbers of people coming together and reconciling, celebrating their humanity, literally experiencing a change of heart akin to a near death experience, which would allow all of us to live out of a sense of gratitude for this gift of life we’ve been blessed with.
Today I want to sit beside the road and take a good look at what I am about. Once again I want to give up the pilgrimage. I no longer believe in it. It just seems pointless. Why is it that things keep falling apart? And when they do, I seem to collapse and curl up in a ball, not knowing what to do until a new impulse surges through me and I find myself once more on my feet and moving. So here I sit, waiting.
I sense in most of us a desperate hope that surely we can make the world a better place, yet see no evidence that human nature itself ever changes. We observe around us unbelievable leaps in technology, while at the same time violence, war, poverty, greed, continue unaltered throughout human history. Within the human soul, this conflict of hope and resignation, reality and wishful thinking, goes on relentlessly. It seems that to take sides with the forces of hope and redemption is as defeating as siding with the forces of despair and resignation. It simply perpetuates the war of opposites. There is a possibility that as each of us embraces whatever opposites exist within ourselves, a new element, a new way of living will emerge. What I believe is being asked of each one of us as we pass through this liminal time of threshold is to bear the anguishing confusion, uncertainty and loss that accompany such a time. Not to fall victim to cynicism, but to keep alive hope for a better future.
Sitting down beside the road, I wonder once again what I am doing out here. The sun is definitely not shining. The sky is dark, and my soul is sad. All seems lost and gone. The dream, the desire, the vision--everything has been taken from me, evaporated like a will-of-the-wisp, and I am left with a feeling of wanting to sneak away in the middle of the night, crawl into my bed and forget about the whole idea of pilgrimage. I thought I was following my inner guide. I believed if I could be true to my deepest feelings and insights, I would arrive at a new place of being and understanding. Why have I traveled so far, only to find myself alone in the middle of nowhere? The spirit has gone from me, and there seems no reason to be heading down the road. I feel like a lost soul. Something is dying.
I've been on this road for a year less a day, and all I want to do is sneak off in the middle of the night. I’d dearly love to muster up some renewed commitment to the pilgrimage, have the vision that took me out here in the first place once again stir my soul. For company I have only the words of T. S. Eliot, remembered from a schoolbook text: "I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope of the wrong thing; wait without love For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting."
Last night I had a dream that the vision is dead--the vision I had of myself and others creating a sacred moment, a vigil that would significantly change the way we live in the world. I sit here beside the road, not knowing what to do. Why did it have to die? It was such a wonderful vision. How do I know it is dead? I don't, and maybe this is just a dark mood I am in and in a day or two everything will be all right. This might be so, but I fall into such deep discouragement. A people die when they lose their vision. What about a person? Truthfully, I just don't know what will become of me. I am bereft and need time to grieve.
In a few days it will be Good Friday. And I feel in a Good Friday mood. Just as the apostles saw all those hopes and expectations die on the cross with their cherished saviour, so also I suffer the death of all that I had hoped for, held dear. We had come so far, the kingdom seemed at hand, and now here I stand once more on the hill, alone and abandoned. Left with a memory of what once was has not eased the hurt; however, it has lanced the wound, for I feel a cleansing as my soul unburdens itself of hopes and expectations. Yet I am bereft. I grieve for all that died on that day long ago, and my tears, like balm on an open wound, begin to heal my soul.
Today I feel a little better. At least without a vision I feel more grounded in the moment. I know I'm still committed to heading down the road. In some sense I feel relieved not to be carrying a vision. I feel free. The vision gone means sight restored, or am I just being clever? I'm not sure. However, there is a possibility that I will start to see things more clearly. Now is one of those times that you simply head down the road without knowing why and without any sense of what is at the end.
Free of both vision and dream, I look into my soul and wonder if something is about to appear. Like an empty vessel, I sit on the shelf, hoping and waiting to be taken down and filled. Maybe there is simply a need right now of acceptance and a gentle compassion for ourselves and each other as we, each in our own way, live our lives and follow whatever belief or light we have.
I'm content with the day-to-day. Coming to realize, perhaps
that I am off on a private little hike in the country, of little
to anyone except myself. There is a realization that there is no
no journey, simply a walking of the road; that there is no journey's
only a day when I’ll stop walking. There is the realization that
it, a wonderful pretend bit of play. And maybe this is the simple truth
Have I broken through the heroic high seriousness and am now ready to accept life as it is, making of the road nothing more than it is, claiming for myself nothing more than being here at this moment in time? I confess things feel a little less interesting seeing life this way, sans meaning, sans adventure, sans goal, sans purpose. But what the hell, the sun is shining, and I was going this way anyway.
Free of both vision and dream, I head down the road, my hat on the back of my head and a bounce in my step. Although I feel at a bit of a loss, I do feel very open. Like an empty vessel, I wait to be filled, and I find myself remembering a pray from somewhere in my past: "I open myself to the spirit of compassion and truth and join with others in the healing and transformation of humankind.” Free from dogma or creed, I open myself to compassion. It is the one thing that makes any sense to me, and as much as I'm able I want to be compassionate to others and ask the same for myself. And to be open to the truth--the dangerous part of this prayer. Truth may set you free, but more often than not it hurts. Illusion makes for much more comfortable living. However, I want the truth, and willingly accept the ouch!
Day 372 Easter
Today is Easter. The sun is shining, but has the stone been rolled away? Something happened back then. But the mystery, the possibility of what happened is too overwhelming for me. Was death really conquered? I can keep the hope in my heart, that the unbelievable might come again.
I'm aware that the mantle of Easter is still upon my shoulders, and heading down the road, I ponder the possibility of meeting the resurrected spirit of all that I once believed in. Until that fateful meeting, the road lies before me. I thought at one time that I could dictate the way, set the course, plan what would happen. How delightfully youthful and naive I was. Now, far down the road, I realize that Life decided the course. I simply walk the way, staff in hand, facing the elements, fending off the black dogs of darkness and despair. It is the pilgrim in me who refuses to turn away from the barren hills, the bleak plains, but goes, on often without hope or promise. And my reward is the paring down of all that I am, to the bare bones of my essence, as I come to know myself, in all the awesome pain and horror and magnificence. Heading down the road, I sense now who I will meet at Emmaus.
Today the sky is blue! I am aware that the core of my being is no longer an empty space. I find myself fumbling with words. Let me just simply acknowledge an intimation. Somewhere within me, within my being, I sense a source of great power and life that has no desire to be named, to be limited by language. I simply know that there is a source, within me like a fountain or a spring, out of which flows and will flow my life. At this moment it bubbles up pure and pristine, unchannelled, undimmed. And today my sky is blue.
I realize now that this pilgrim is indeed set upon a perilous road. I can end up going around in circles. I can get lost, for the signs that point the way may be tampered with, or I might miss them in the dark. And there are robbers; some who masquerade as fellow travelers. The road may lead nowhere. And yes, I could lose my soul. Why then am I out here? Because this seems to be who I am, a pilgrim. And this is, I think, my calling. Though most of the signposts are down, the markers removed, and there is no star to guide me, there is still something, a mystery, that draws me forward--maybe simply a hope that something will come of this journey. I sense that if I can strip myself of the old ways of being, I will be delivered into a purer, more pristine sense of the great mystery of life. And with that might come "a new heaven and a new earth.” And so I stay the course.
It is a little humbling to realize that the way goes on unchanged, while I struggle to map out its terrain, to see where it is going, where it will end. Sometimes I seem to rush headlong down the road, taking time only to eat and sleep, hoping that just over the next hill will be a grander vista. Yet I’m beginning to see the road as a craftsman’s tool, a piece of sandpaper that is continually polishing and smoothing the pilgrim. And I am crafted in ways I hardly perceive. I'm less angry, less cynical, more transparent, more compassionate. Not exactly a masterpiece, but definitely a work of art in progress. But who is the artist?
Today, at ease with myself and the world, I feel content simply to be on the journey, with no need or urge to get somewhere. It is rather pleasant to simply be out on the road. Today in some real way I feel part of life as it moves forward and around and back in a deep pleasurable, inchoate weaving of the human tapestry. And who can say whether this tapestry, when viewed from eternity, by whose eyes we know not, might reveal a wondrous work of art, worthy to be called Divine.
The sky is blue and cloudless, the day is springlike, and the sunlight lasts and lasts. Days like this, I realize, are too bright, too long. I weary of the exhausting richness. And I long for the night with its coolness. I long for the security of being wrapped in its darkness. Night tempers the brilliance of the day, and there are times, like now, that I feel more comfortable within its confines.
The sky is empty, the landscape endlessly the same. A reflection of that which is within? Am I an empty chalice, waiting to be filled? With what? The wine of Life? Or am I a thread that twists and interweaves in pattern and form, revealing itself only when seen from a great distance? Or is it all an unpainted canvas, and I, the artist of my life? Am I a storyteller creating a world that I can live in, and a story that I can be hero of? I would like to be all of these: chalice, tapestry, story, hand, weaver, artist, teller, creator. I lack but one thing: inspiration.
Today I wrote a postcard (http://www.yesic.com/~pilgrim/postcard.htm) home. Thinking back, I realize how far I have come. I have traveled through areas of dry cynicism, barren disbelief, anger, resentment, meaningless wanderings, angst, despair, depression. And now, for the time being at least, I am walking through open and fecund countryside where I could come upon a new revelation. The past revelations, distilled into the image of Christ and all the pomp and wonders of his church, are no longer for me symbols of veneration or of animosity. They are but honoured relics of an old testament. I find myself at last free of these icons. Now I sense that I can go forward with some confidence, indeed real hope that I am at last ready to receive the Divine, the Spirit, in whatever new form it might take as it manifests within me.
Wrapped in my own little reality, cocooned from the suffering and pain of so many, I walk in a world that also has dangers and pitfalls. Out here on the road, I know there is anguish and suffering, but it is on a soul level, and this makes the difference. Yet once again I ask myself what I am about, why am I out here. I know that I am in search of a new way of being. I realize that the old ways have gone, and that I’m hoping to find another way. But although the old beliefs in God have melted away, there is still a space that has yet to be filled. My soul aches, and I grieve. I wake each morning with an emptiness that makes everything I do seem meaningless. This is the ongoing complaint of my soul, yet what more can I do but continue down the road, my eyes scanning the skies for a star, my ears alert to any rumour of a new birth?
Today I feel more strength in my resolve to continue on. I cannot find anything definite explaining the cause of this resolve; however, I do find I'm in good spirits. And as often happens when I'm feeling good and the road is open in front of me, I have little to put into words. Or is it that I feel uncomfortable speaking of positive possibilities, such as a hope that I will be changed by this pilgrimage? That I will at journey's end be more openhearted, more compassionate? That there will be others who have made the journey and we will come together, and from that vantage point see that our pilgrimage has indeed taken us to a sacred place? And from that place, might be the possibility to offer a blessing upon the world?
I head down the road, hoping for a good day, a little sunshine, a companion for at least part of the day, hills that aren't too steep, a good place to stop for the night. Yet almost against my better judgment, I find myself focusing inward searching for meaning, hoping for a revelation, praying for an epiphany. Trying to act on what I know to be truth, that whatever meaning there is in my life will remain forever illusive, a mystery beyond my grasp. I find myself unable to live beyond the simple realities of the day-to-day, the here and now. Whatever dignity I can find in my life seems to involve the hope that something will change, something will happen to inspire a belief in something better.
It has been a long time since I have written anything in my journal. I sense that I am different in some way, changed in my outlook on life, but I am not sure why that is or what to say about it, how to find the right words. I dislike making claims that I'm different, because the next day I am back the way I was, and embarrassed by my earlier proclamation. Enough caveats; let's have a go at it. I can only reiterate that I feel I have fallen through the fabric of religious belief; the mythos of deity and spirit has evaporated, and I find myself alone in a silent void of mystery and being. Yet I cannot give up desperately clinging to the hope that out of this emptiness will appear, in a new guise and with a new covenant, the Eternal. I cannot believe how strong this hope, this instinct, is within me. I find I can accept this being pulled apart by what I see to be true, and what I hope to be revealed. For me this is a change.
So much is not said, so much forgotten, so much not accounted for in this journal. One has to read between the lines, fill in the blanks, imagine the leaps that have taken a pilgrim from one entry to the next. And not be too hard on me for endlessly reiterating my concerns. Today I feel a certain peace, a certain acceptance of where I am along the way. The sky is blue; the cicadas are singing. I have forgotten the road behind me, and have lost interest in the road ahead. For now there is but the road beneath my feet. I am wrapped in the warm embrace of well-being, and totally uncaring of anything else. All I want to do is lose myself in this singular moment of my existence, a moment of neither high excitement nor deep meaning, but simply of being alive.
It feels good just being on the road. I realize that in a few days I will have reached the halfway mark. I've changed over the months that I have been on this particular road, sense that I am more at peace with myself, and am more able to articulate my dream of journey’s end. I sense it coming into focus, and I would offer my hope and dream for the future as best I am able. However, one difficulty I struggle with is that everyone is walking a different road, and each envisions the end as different from everyone else. How, I ask myself, can we embrace each other? How can I accept another’s view of the world, another's religious beliefs, and at the same time proclaim with joy my own vision and beliefs?
There is an evolution of life from species to species, from dinosaur to bird, from ape to man, and I am in awe of the grandeur of this mysterious unfolding. But at this moment in time, I'm aware of a force holding back this very act of unfolding creation. It is as if some huge weight, accumulated over centuries--or perhaps simply a great fear of the unknown, like some gravitational force--holds us prisoners in an outdated, worn and weary worldview. Sometimes it feels as if the whole human race is pulling back from that next step. A step that would take us all into a world that would be different from the one we now live in, as different as land would have seemed to the inhabitants of the oceans. Is this world held back by our own unacknowledged fear, not just of our place in such a future, but of becoming castoffs in a world that has grown beyond us? Or is it our inability to face the death of all that we believe true that holds back the future? Or is it that our lack of courage and vision could result in a future stillborn, a faint ghost of what might have been? Or all of the above. And at the same time I sense an urgency both in the world about me and within my own being, to move beyond the fear and.midwife the next stage of this grand unfolding design. But how?
There is work to be done, and time is running out. There is a task awaiting us equal to that of our fathers, who fought against Fascism. And it was not something that could have been done sooner. For what is being asked of us requires a life lived, out of which arises a life essence. Distilled from the facts and the events of our lives is the essence of all that we have lived. It is not unlike a precious liquor, shared after the main course. But it takes time and a certain artistry to create a fine liquor that is both delicate and free from a bitter aftertaste, full-bodied and fully matured. This essence of our life is the gift to our children.
But herein lies the sacrifice, the dignity and nobility, the true test of our worth. Can we who find ourselves full with the past, rich with experience tempered by years and reality, have the courage to speak the truth of our lives? Can we reconcile the pain and the anguish with the wisdom we have gleaned from the human experience we have been privileged to be part of? Can we-and herein lies the challenge-speak this truth clearly and transparently, free from malice and vindictiveness? Free from pride or investment, untarnished by false pride and sentiment? This means removing the dross of sentimentality, of wishful thinking, of moralizing. It means acknowledging the depth of our cynicism and hopelessness, as well as our longing for a better world. One guideline only can we use: telling lies to the young is wrong.
Make no mistake. Something is being asked of each of us at this moment. It has to do with sacrifice, letting go and risking and daring. We all have a part to play in the grand design. But it would mean leaving behind our personal beliefs, letting go of our private fears, moving out of our comfortable, safe ways of living, and risking all that we have. Daring to cross the threshold before us, so that, through us, Life can unfold in ways we cannot yet imagine, takes real sacrifice.
From this vantage point in my journey, high atop a watershed peak, I see far ahead to a distant possibility, a meeting place. It envision a banquet table, a place for all to offer their gift seating at the table, where all are accorded respect and dignity. I see the sacrifice that is being asked of me, of all who would sit at that table. Put aside our beliefs, our schemes, our ideas of the way things should be, and meet together in a moment outside of our small worlds, outside the walls of our world views, our prejudices, our hard-won truths. Each of us brings to the table the self that has been honed and tempered by our wonderful, profound, unique experience of life. Together, we celebrate our lives in all their differences, willing to offer all that we hold precious that a new generation may enter into a new millennium blessed by our sacrifice. We offer all we believe to embrace all that we are. At that moment the gates of the Holy City would swing open to all. That was what I saw.
Was it yesterday that I was flying high, full with a marvelous vision, and great expectations? Where are they today? Gutted by forces that I can neither comprehend nor grapple with. Perhaps it can better be described as a black hole or simply a void, an emptiness that sucks the life out of me. Sometimes I swear I become the void itself. And so I walk the road, hoping to meet one who will inspire me, hoping along the way to find meaning, longing with all my heart to arrive and walking through the gates, to be met by my loved ones.
The halfway point has come and gone. The hopes of the journey are becoming more stark; questions become more demanding. There is a growing sense that I have lost my way. The signposts are down, the bridges are washed out. Yet the sense of impending change is palpable. Nothing is certain--the road, my vision, my commitment, even my very sense of direction. And yet in some other sense, the road has become a rushing river sweeping me forward and I am caught and carried along in a current that is beyond my control. I would ask for some help, but where it would come from I know not.
It has been a long time since I have written in my journal. Two months have passed since I have even opened it. A fog has come down, and I can't see where I am going. A pilgrimage takes a certain intent or purpose. It also takes a destination, a shrine, a sacred city to arrive within, so one can know that the journey has been completed. All that has evaporated. I’m walking down the road, but it is no longer a pilgrimage. It is simply a journey. The idea of pilgrimage has been taken from me, and I find myself simply moving towards a moment in time that will be meaningless. But I vow to continue on, open to what the road offers, even though I have lost any sense of why I am out here.
Once again it has been a long time since I have written anything. I am resigned to walking without hope or destination, in the grips of a critical, pessimistic ogre that I seem unable to escape. With every step I take, I am reminded of my flaws and limitations, and seem incapable of any gentleness with myself.
I find myself once again passing that marker, Christmas, which I can neither sneak around nor ignore. Each time I pass by this ancient artifact, I find myself squinting at it, trying somehow to see through the encrustations, to discover the motherlode that lies within. I find myself knowing too well the darkness that is the backdrop for this way-station. Indeed, this cold darkness has permeated so deep into my soul that there is little else except endless longing. And with this childlike longing, I would wish for the return of joy. I would ask for a particular gift though even to voice it feels almost too frightening, And so I stand, mutely gazing at this simple marker so filled with ancient power and truth, with my arms open wide in hope and expectation. Oh, that all things would be made new!
Last night I dreamt that I was being led out of an old ransacked building by a woman. She was a being of great status and power, and yet I felt from her a warmth and caring far beyond my own personhood. Moreover, she seemed to want to help me. “I am the voice of all that you long for, but believe is impossible,” she said. “You wish for a less flawed you, capable of great music, wonderful stories, even great poetry. And yet you know this You cannot exist on this earth.”
“What then am I to do?” My question woke me into the dark night.
“Let life unfold as it will. I will be Dream, and you, Reality. I will be hope, you, the world. And within the dance will I reveal to you a way out of the desolation of mind and logic.” Her words came forward from the dream.
Today feeling a little better. "Thank you"
The road ahead doesn't seem any brighter; I tell myself that it matters little what is at the end of the road. It is the pilgrimage that’s vital. The end, the goal, what might be, is but desire, a wonderful goad to keep me going, but no more than that. On the road is where I am. And I would wish for myself a certain sense of play and fun along the way. Maybe I shouldn’t take myself so seriously.
“Amen to that,” a voice says.
I'm beginning to sense that I would like to learn how to respond to life from my heart rather than from my mind. I do remember a time on another pilgrimage when my heart was opened and everything was changed. I would like to experience that feeling again. Of course, this theme of love is preached by every religion and spiritual healer. But love has always seemed more an ideal to strive for rather than a state that could be achieved. And I confess I don’t know any way to achieve this quantum leap. Having experienced it once, I know what it feels like, and I know that no amount of talking about it or praying for it brings it about. For me, walking for weeks along an ancient pilgrimage route was the "magic formula" and it seemed to be in the act of walking that the shift from mind to heart occurred. What will it take on this inner road?
I have been happy, and yes, joyful for some time, and I don't know what to say about this current state of affairs, except that I like it. After so many dark clouds, gloomy glen, and endless stretches of whining and complaining, something different is happening to me. I think of Emily Dickenson's poetry: "I can wade whole pools of grief/ But the least drop of joy/ Sends me tippling like a drunk.” Something appears to have shifted in me. I am a little more aware of the distance I have traveled. Perhaps I'm a little more willing to acknowledge my own gifts. Yet none of this seems to do justice to what I feel. I find myself embraced within a state of grace. Grace: a truly special word, gentle and otherworldly. On this particular day I feel gifted with grace. I sense a wholeness that hasn't been there before.
Once again it’s my birthday. Looking back over years, I see a life of mistakes, accomplishments, disappointments, growth, maturation, integrity, worth and, yes, even the beginnings of wisdom. In my youth, I imagined great things. Now in my maturity, I realize the full scope of my humanity, and I am humbled and in awe at this great experiment of which I am a part. I doubt that the human situation will change; however, it is possible that a different way of being in the world will come into existence. I sense intimations of this new level of human consciousness within me. Whether it will be realized or not remains to be seen. Perhaps in some deep place my soul is preparing to emerge, like a butterfly, out of the clutter and debris of my life. No, I’d like to think that it is out of the crucible of my life, the grinding of the road, that there is emerging a refined essence of my humanity. This process, for want of a better term, I call soul making.
Once again a sense of grace seems to be draped across my shoulders. And I'm aware of a willingness to let things unfold. It’s possible that the world will never change, that the so-called good will forever fight the so-called bad, that people will go on as they are. I see Creation endlessly wrapping and interveaving. And I see it as a marvelous, cosmic work of art, an awesome tapestry woven through us and with us, and maybe even by us. Why, and for whose eyes, matters not. For the moment, within this consciousness, I am at one with it all. Praise be!
I keep dreaming about shoes. In one dream I have forgotten where I've put my shoes. In another I am buying a new pair of shoes. Not sure what to make of these dreams. There is obviously some significance to shoes, especially for a pilgrim, but what? I am heading down the road, content, but unenthusiastic. The day is pleasant and uneventful. No small blessing!
I have a sense that I have crossed some great divide. It is just possible that from this point onward the rivers will be flowing towards that sacred grove I have for so long hoped to find. The air feels different; the wind carries a hint of the sea. I get very cautious at times like this. One can say too much, overstep the moment, and, as in a game of Snakes and Ladders, find oneself suddenly back at square one. Forget I even thought this. Let's just walk the road together... in silence.
Don’t ask why. I don’t know why. I could burst into flames, hurl invectives, rant, rage. What is this fierce force that lies so close to the surface of my conscious state? That erupts so unexpectedly without any warning? I thought I was a chalice, a vessel for the Divine. Instead I find myself a volcano ready to burst into life, spewing hot burning lava all about me. Better keep a cap on this; it feels too destructive, too primitive, too uncivilized. Yet in truth, despite my better judgment and my reasonable nature, I'd like to explode, smash, burn, rage. I don't want to have to clean up afterwards, however. And what, I wonder, would happen if I did go up in flame?
Everything is back to normal, and I'm aware of how ordinary my life is. I keep myself busy putting my life into words, probably in an attempt to make it less ordinary. And yet words are not easily dismissed. For the word is the thread of the tapestry And as we walk our way along the path, planning, hoping, believing, scheming, we weave our stories upon the shuttle of time. Much to our amazement, we discover that we have woven a wondrous cocoon of reason, and purpose, and gods. I'm not discontent walking this moment of finite consciousness, chattering away to myself, aware that I, too, am part of this awesome mystery that spreads out in all directions, like a cosmic quilt.
I know it has been a long time since I've written. The journey, the road, the walking have become the essence of what I am about, and on days like this words become less and less significant. The prod of the vision that took me out on this pilgrimage is no longer goading me forward. I sense that the present is enough. I walk comfortably within the ordinary nature of my humanity. There is no fierce wind blowing at my back, no steep hill in front of me. I've grown accustomed to the journey, realize there will be good days and bad. Yet things are transforming within me. I wish I could articulate all I sense. There is an acceptance of myself and the road. An inner peace that I am living my life, with all its ups and downs. A knowing that the road goes on toward the sacred coming together....
The pilgrimage has become the way, and I sense that this is what I need to make sacred. To walk in the fullness of the moment, accepting the sunshine and the rain, the open road and the steep twisting path; even more so, accepting the routine and the monotony of the journey. Within this simple acceptance of my life and my journey, I sense the possibility of truly entering into life. There are moments when I find myself fading and something that has no name other than Life, the Divine, Spirit, God, walking in my footsteps, delighting in the view of creation through my eyes.
The sky is blue; the day is full. Behind me can be seen the distant hills from which I have come and the road that I have traveled. Like a still life photograph, I'm caught in mid-stride within the present moment. It is a pleasant place to find myself.
There is a sense that something is at hand. My pace has quickened; there is a spring in my stride. There is less going on in my head, and more awareness that something is coming into being that will impact on me and my life in ways that I hope and expect will be positive. It feels like I have arrived at a place on the road that requires simply that I be open to what is coming. What is coming? The road looks the same in front of me and behind, and yet the air is different, the wind carries a hint of something indefinable.
There is a truth within the human experience that distills itself as I walk. Removed from wishful thinking, the hope for something better, or the fear that things will only get worse, I have the slow dawning realization that this is it. The walking, the road, the moods, the weather: this is the stuff of my life. On the days when it is raining, when my muscles ache and the road winds ever upward, I think ahead to the moment when I will enter through the gates of the sacred city, but that is not it. When I’m anguished at being who I am, feel the weariness of .forever going down the road; worse, when I imagine myself squatting beside the road, reciting my litany of reasons for giving up, I tell myself this can not be it. Then there are days when, worn down by the long journey, I find myself too weak to protest, and I am taken up into the unimaginable chaos and confusion, order and mystery, horror and magnificence, wearisome boredom, endless repetition, eternal longing, exquisite moments, fleeting delight, and unfathomable profundity--this is it; this is Life. And for a few fleeting moments I am part of it. Alleluia!
As I see the end of this particular pilgrimage--and there has to be an end--I find that I am indeed in a different place than when I started. I have discovered that when I walk in silence, letting the distractions and routines of the road fall away, I become simply, for want of a better word, pure being. I become less me and more the simple essence of pilgrim, walking, road, life. It is such a blessed relief to be free of myself with its fussing and fretting, aggravations and frustrations. And so for great moments at a time, I find myself walking in the fullness of my being, one with all that is, caring little for the weary musings of my mind that would pull me back into that wordy world.
As I see the end of the pilgrimage coming nearer, I find myself looking beyond that point of arrival. What will I do after I put down my pilgrim's staff? I would for myself a noble endeavour, worthy of who I have become. Some task of maturity that would test my mettle, that would be the capstone of a life. What might that be I do not know. And in truth this pilgrimage is far from over. I need to keep my mind on what is just ahead. Have I learned so little that I forget that it is in the final days, in the last few miles, that one is most at risk? "Stay true to your journey; the best is yet to come." a voice whispers in my head.
Early morning and the road is clear. And I imagine that I can see far ahead, even to journey's end. What seemed impossible a few days back now seem probable. It is just possible that the gates will be opened. It is just possible that She will be there to greet me and guide us through the labyrinth. It is just possible that we will be feted. The dream of journey’s end seems to be coming down to earth. Early morning and the sky is clear. I feel transparent, as if the road, beginning and end, journey, life, being, the source, is all welling up through me. Sense that I am not simply a part of the whole, a small piece of the puzzle, but that I am fully and wholly life and being, a manifestation of all that is, a mystery no less than the Great Mystery itself.
Today, in contrast to the expansiveness of my soul vision of yesterday, I find myself burdened with the weight of my existence. Weary, I look for a place to rest. Despondent, I sit melancholic beside the road, saddened by life. However, this despondence is not like despair or depression. Like an overcast sky or a rainy day, it is softer, and I sit quiet with the knowledge that my hopes, my dreams, my great expectations will probably remain unrealized. Yet despite this knowing, I cherish them, delight in them and willingly live out of them. For now I rest beside the road wrapped in the soft gray cloak of despondence. Sit beside me for a while; talk with me.
I wake during the night, and my heart is sad. I’m aware that this sadness comes from all the missed opportunities in my life, for all the might-have-beens, for all the hurts and the misfortunes that make up my life. But I’m also aware that this sadness is so deep and broad that it must well up from a greater source than my own life. I believe it comes from a knowledge of all that has happened across the stark and tragic centuries past. And I realize I need to grieve, not only for my own life but for all that has transpired in the name of humankind. I sense that only in the release of tears, only in taking time to grieve, can my heart be relieved of so much that it carries unexpressed and unacknowledged. And only then will my sleep be undisturbed and peaceful.
What is this urge to document a journey that flows up into high hopes, down into low borderlands of confusion and doubt, and across seemingly endless mundane plains of the day-to-day? I carry the hope, that by my keeping faithful to the process, some hidden purpose or meaning will emerge. That from some point in the future I can look back over the journey and see progress, change, even transformation. I would like to think that I am documenting my soul's journey, the inner journey of our times, recording the soul-weary, doubt-filled search for meaning and purpose that so often lies unexpressed and unspoken. And underlining this attempt to articulate the soul's journey through these times is the profound hope that beyond the traditional limits of what I had always hoped for--redemption and salvation--there will be new reasons to hope.
The pilgrimage is actually changing me. And I am a little uneasy. Change pleasant and gradual I'm all for. But the sense that I could transform my limited plaintive self is scary. It requires a death of the old, a dying to secure, comfortable ways of being. I tell myself maybe this dying can take place in my sleep, and I won't feel a thing. Wishful thinking!
Looking back at my many descents into dark, precipitous shadows, all the half-remembered peaks and valleys of heightened awareness and deep depression, I should not be too surprised at my present state. Yet it still comes over me unexpectedly and without warning. Suddenly I become aware of a profound sense of disappointment that stops me in my tracks. I am close enough to the end to know that it will be little more than a brief drop into the depths. This whole exercise--the pilgrimage, the anticipation, the vision of a moment made sacred by all of us gathering together to celebrate the human journey, to acknowledge our lives, to be warmed by the coming together of others of like minds--was but wishful thinking. I can see no sign of this glorious ending coming to be, no sense that my pilgrimage has had any value, and my heart weeps. I grieve for what might have been.
Where am I today? Thankfully out of that fit of yesterday. Removed gratefully from my grieving for what I long for, I walk slowly, one foot in front of the other, knowing these doubts will come again. The whole conflict between wanting to make something happen and the despair that nothing will happen seems to be an ongoing battle between the demons that walk with me. I know that it is useless to try to free myself from them. My task is to learn how to live with them, as part of the night and day, the uphill-downhill, the light and dark, good angel, bad angel. The dream that things will get better, that the promised land is just around the corner, just over the next hill, and the knowing that the road simply goes on--this is what I have been trying to reconcile in myself, with not much success. Although not the best of companions, they travel with me.
Where am I today? Much the same place as yesterday and the day before. I would dearly like to have as a traveling companion the angel of belief who tells me that all things are possible, that good wins out in the end and that the road leads into the sacred city. And some days we do travel together. On other days I find myself in the company of an entity from that other persuasion, the cynical realist. What have I learned from him? The way of the world. However, I am learning to live with them. One is a sweet seducer, who charms me with wonderful possibilities. The other bullies me, sticks my nose in the mud. Unfortunately, I seem always at the mercy of one or the other. I'm weary of this endless debate. “Enough!” I exclaim. I am simply me, alive and well, and coming toward the end of an amazing pilgrimage.
It is in the last chord that the song completes itself. It is the last note that rings truest and vibrant in ways never heard before, all because of what has gone before. And so too will be my journey’s end if I remain true to my purpose. There is more to this journey than I realize, even at this late date.
With little time left to go, I realize how far I have come. Having moved far beyond the struggle of the early days, I am more in tune with the road and the journey. "My eyes already touch the sunny hill Going far ahead of the road I have begun. So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp; It has its own inner light and even from a distance It changes us, even if we do not reach it" And so it is.
I have been deeply and profoundly changed by this pilgrimage, and I am grateful that I remained true to it. I know now that it is not important that I achieve the vision of the end, only that I keep it alive within me. For its inner light has indeed been cast upon me and I am changed
I'm caught again by the dark forces that seem best described as the anti-vision. All I can see is the emptiness and fruitlessness of this pilgrimage. The whole exercise seems to have been futile. I believe that there will be nothing at journey's end, and that little will have been learned or accomplished. On my back I carry the weight of my disappointment. Where did everything go? The glorious imagined arrival now seems little more than a foolish dream. In reality I see myself alone, with nothing to bring to the moment that would make it sacred, unless my disappointment and unhappiness qualify. From this vantage point, when I look back at the way behind me, I see only the endless weary complaint of a soul. And this is the place I have come to after such a journey? I must be a fool and will be glad when this charade has run its course.
I'm out from under that black cloud that comes out of nowhere and drowns me in self-pity and despair. These attacks don't last so long now, but they’re still virulent. For a brief period I see the world in all its stark reality, and it is too much. I run back to a vision full of hope and possibility. I guess if I have learned anything on this long journey it is that these are the polarities of my being. The dream of what might be--expansive, elegant, ennobling-- and the reality of what is--limiting, mundane, cruel, and capricious. My journey's end requires that I reconcile these two sides of who I am. Or can I, with the power of my imagination, create a third side that balances the other two? Can I with an alchemy from the union of the two bring forth another way of being? It would indeed be the gateway to the sacred city.
For the past few days I have been happy. Filled with an easy acceptance of myself and the road, I wonder if this state of mind is the unexpected gift that comes to the pilgrim. I am aware that I have decided to let go of any hope of a cherished gathering at journey's end and to simply walk the road. Better not to worry about reasons but simply to be within this day of peace and something akin to joy. It’s how I felt many years ago when I passed through the gates of Santiago de Compostela after walking endless days and nights along an ancient pilgrim's route.
There is a different feeling in the air, in me. It is not just that the pilgrimage is coming to an end. It has taken me to a place I never thought I'd be. Over the last while, I have been aware of a greater authority in my step and a new strength in my being. I have let go of my grandiose plans for the pilgrimage end. I am more able to see the distance I have come and sense the effect the journey has on my outlook. In some sense I feel like I have walked into who I really am. This self is one I remember, real or imagined, from my youth. Back then, filled with the wonderful confidence of youth, I believed I knew the way, that I could move mountains, achieve great things. A lifetime tempered my impetuous nature. Anguish of failing, realization of my limitations cowed me into a fretful existence, jaundiced my days with bitterness, and soured my vision with what I saw as the cynical truth of experience. Yet somehow much of this seems to have worn away as I walked the road. I feel delighted with myself.
For a while now I have been walking with a simpler truth. Sometimes as I walk the way, I become aware of a deep pool, a well within me that drops down deep inside to the very core of my being, and beyond to the source of being itself. At such times there is no need for words for I feel I am within the womb of time, connected by an "umbilical" to the source itself.
Just up the road, I can see the end; it is not the grandiose climax I had envisioned. However, without that grand vision I would never have set foot on the road. And now, after what seems like a lifetime of walking, I feel deeply, profoundly and joyfully reconciled with myself, my dream, the road, and the reality of what has transpired. No small gift! How this present state of acceptance came about, I'm not sure. So often along the way, I would be ranting and in a rage because my dream of how I wanted the pilgrimage to end was not going happen. Now I see that it was just that--a dream, a vision of what might be. A vision remains inviolate and whole within its own existence. The other world of flesh and earth, the one I wake to every morning, does not allow such purity of existence. I can now accept that it is not possible for such impossible dreams to exist in fact. Yet this in no way denies the wonderment and the genius of the dream. Much to the contrary, it is such dreams that infuse the world with life and vitality, wonderment and awe. Not to mention hope
I've had a glass of wine, maybe two, and I'm feeling a mellowness that gives meaning to that old adage, in vino veritas. Or perhaps it is the road itself that has mellowed me. Every so often I feel fully content with my life. This is one of those moments. I feel a quiet, unspeakable wisdom in who I am. I believe it has come from being true to the road, neither running away from the deep dark passages or being fearful of the storms that overtook my soul. Such a humbling experience, living. Such a marvel just to be alive. Having come this far along the road, I feel worthy to accept my humanity. I am small, insignificant, delightful, flawed, bumbling, loving, lovable, silly, grumpy, and one day will die. I walk at peace with who I am. And still I hope and dream, and plot and plan, and fidget and fret, and still have not captured the essence of this drop of life force that is me. I look within my glass and it is far from empty. And with impish delight, I ask how have the murky waters of my life been turned into such rich wine.
Once again I realize I am not free of that deep longing to be more than I am. Like the caterpillar that is transformed into something beyond its wildest imaginings, I want-in truth, deeply crave-a similar transformation. Despite all my yesterday’s celebration of myself, I simply cannot, try as I will, be continually content with my present state of being. What is this desire to be more than we are? Will it ever be satisfied? Once I thought that as I walked through the gates at pilgrimage's end, it would happen. Long ago I gave up that illusion. Now all of this seems like idle speculation, wishful thinking. Yet still the longing persists. And in a way I am glad for its companionship. Who knows where it will yet lead me? And who knows but that it may be the ultimate truth of my being.
I find myself filled with excitement and anxiety as the end approaches. No time now to look back at the long journey, only time to bring all that is sacred and meaningful forward, that it may be ready for the table on that final night.
Feeling a little adrift, like a seafaring soul too long away from land and hearth, I walk in the thin sunlight of a year's end, aware of how much I’ve changed. No longer an empty vessel, I am now a chalice waiting to be filled, Content with what can best be described as a sacred emptiness, I feel the emptiness become a soft massaging presence, a simple gracing of what has happened to me and what I have become.
Last night I had a vision of what will happen on the sacred eve. Suffice it to say I know now it will meet all my expectations. It will be a small but perfect coming together of friends and strangers to be part of a threshold vigil that will take all of us through into a new time and place. I had long ago given up any hope of such a moment and gathering, and now I can see it coming into being with all the richness--no, more richness than I had let myself dream of. I see a careful and loving threshold that fills me with warm anticipation and a deep gratitude for those who are bringing this moment forward.
Can sense the end, that moment without future, the right time to make an end of pilgrimage. It will be a joyous ending. And I cannot help but think of that wonderful party remembered in the folkenlore of Middle Earth, where Bilbo and Frodo put on a marvelous gala that ends their time at the shire. More and more this seems to me how the pilgrimage will end, with a warm and heartfelt gathering as we draw together to close out in grand style the way we once were, and to celebrate who we now are.
I seem to have tripped and fallen into a deep pit. Lost to any light of day, I feel the weight of my life settle over me, and once again, for the hundred time, everything seems pointless and meaningless, even though I know tomorrow I will be caught up in the illusion of purpose and hope and celebration, and whatever. However, today I choose to honour the bleak integrity of this hollow earth. At this moment, I can see only the pointlessness of my little existence. I doubt if I know anything beyond what I sense about me, the black shades of life. How has it come upon me--this dark and nihilistic state? I was happy and positive a few days ago, and now dank cold chills my bones. Perhaps it is a dark vision of what is, when the thin light of hope falls beyond the horizon.
On this longest night, there is shining in the heavens the brightest moon that has ever been seen within my lifetime. It is not quite the same as the bright star that lit the way for those wise men, long ago in another world, but for me it has special significance. During times like this, when it seems that we are all walking through darkness, there comes to us a reflected light that illuminates the long night. Moonlight in its cold whiteness reveals to us the stark beauty of life with a dark clarity that cannot be found in the bright blaze of day.
It is nigh. I am happy and in a way content. Christmas has been overshadowed by the coming eve of year’s end, and this feels right for my secular soul. Christmas has long ago lost its radiance and its profundity for me. Not that I don't long for a birth and the coming of a "Christ-Child." It is simply that I long for a new story able to contain a new birth. The world about me is uneasy and tentative. The road I travel runs through Bethlehem, but now it is simply a well-remembered way station. For there is an ending just down the road, and that is the focus of my intent. For me it is my threshold. And I need to make sure I leave behind all that is but a burden: an outmoded stance, an attitude that has become a hindrance, ways of being that hold me back. What can I let go of? What can I give away? What will I need to take with me? How can I discover in this time of my own birthing who I am or who I want to be? And how do I find the courage to cut myself free from a placenta that has protected and enwrapped me ever since I can remember, but that now threatens to entangle and choke me in this my coming into a new life?
The sacred moment is so close it is frightening. After endless days of moving towards it, I find myself scrambling, continually sucked back into the valleys and depths. I find myself remembering times when the road and the weather and the way seemed to conspire against me, when fate itself took part. I have grievances against life that I cannot dismiss with a magnanimous wave of my hand and a cavalier, "No problem." And what am I to do? Do I forgive Life? Accept the way my life has unfolded? See it as a mystery? The truth is I'm pissed off. Once I bought a lottery ticket to win a large sum of money. All the digits on my ticket were one number off the winning one. It seemed like my life. Almost winning the jackpot, but one number off. No more near misses! I want to win the prize of life.
I have love, health, wealth, friends. These are certainly the gifts, the blessings of Life. But the prize of itself--what would it be? Achievement? Acclaim? Perhaps. Meaning and purpose I would treasure. But the prize itself? I do believe it is there for each one of us. It might be outside of ourselves, or it could be an inner realization of our own selfhood. But is it won, given, awarded, discovered? I suspect that one day you wake up and it is there in your arms.
So close to the end of the road. Little on my mind; simply keep walking. Everything is in place. Just keep walking. The road pushes me along. I find myself raising my hands like a runner coming into the home stretch. The race is over, the moment of stepping over the finish line but a few paces in front of me. There is a simple calm, as if everything has switched into slow motion. The noise of the world has fallen away, the hardships of the road behind me have faded from mind, and I move effortlessly toward that moment of fulfillment.
Everything is in place. I cannot believe my good fortune. Tomorrow I will complete the pilgrimage, walk through the gate of journey's end, step over the threshold, and there with friends and loved ones remember how it was, sing endless refrains to life and love and truth and beauty, feast, celebrate, vigil, welcome the new day. At this moment, in full anticipation, I want for nothing.
Day 1001-the point of arrival
It went beyond my greatest expectations It was the moment of renewal I had longed for. All who needed to be there were, called by the same voice that had led me throughout the long pilgrimage. We gathered, not sure what would happen, willing to see the night through, unsure if it was simply a long weary wakefulness, or the threshold of a new day. Yet all the while I knew that it was right, perfect. It was not simply the end of a long pilgrimage. It was the coming to ground of all my longing, the fulfillment of the vision, the bringing down of the dream into the world of people and time and limitation. I had come to earth, and it was right and perfect. There was a simple joy, a deep peace, and I felt blessed beyond words The whole vigil opened out beyond the plain of thought. I was in a place of full contentment. The long vigil had ended, the dawn had been greeted when there was a knock at the door. A neighbour from down the street was standing on the porch. Big and burly, he picked me up in his arms, saying, "Welcome home, pilgrim." Giddy after the long sleepless night, my feet off the ground and embraced by a man I hardly knew, I found myself laughing. Then I felt the chest of this great man begin to heave with laughter, and together we laughed and laughed. And I knew then, and I knew that he knew that I knew. And laughter was the only way to describe it. I was the prize.
Thank you for walking with me, and for going the distance. Your company has been important to me. And I hope that you have benefitted from this inner pilgrimage. By now you know probably too much about me and my ups and downs. And now it is your turn. please Talk with me