Pilgrimage is more than walking...
Every evening when the Vox Peregrini walkers gather at dinner, someone… or two… or three… graciously asks me, “How was your day? What did you do?” The “Perfect Judge” in my head screams guilty words, “Nothing… nothing to compare to the grueling, gorgeous hiking you have done. I just drove about 20 minutes and hung out…whoopee!”
So I take a deep breathe and say, “I had a lovely day of writing, and reading, and traveling to our next destination and making sure all is well for you.” Why do I feel guilty about that? I’m wondering if my “Loyal Soldier” (from Bill Plotkin’s book, Soulcraft) who works unconsciously to keep my “Wild Child” in check is working overtime?
What I hear from my Vox Peregrini friends is, “Thank you so much for all you are doing to support us, help us, and arrange all of this for us. Our accommodations are more than we imagined how good they could be.” I need to let my Loyal Soldier and Wild Child hear that… deep in my unconscious.
My lonesome road is not so lonesome any more… because I have a wise young pilgrim traveling with me named Morgan. She had the courage to say, “I can’t walk anymore.” If you could see her feet, you would know why. I admire her strength to take care of herself and ask for what she needs and graciously offer her help to my pilgrim’s way. She has provided ease to my negotiating the map and driving the Irish farm roads.
Today she sat with Gil as he bandaged and offering healing touches to many feet. She made a list of healing supplies he would need for the journey ahead. Other fellow pilgrims asked her if she could find some things that would make their walk easier. Then, we traveled to a couple of towns clearing out the pharmacies of all their 2nd skin!
I’m missing the walking…or truthfully, I’m feeling guilty about not walking. But if I were walking, none of the supplies, dinners waiting for them hot and delicious, rooms “sorted out,” taxis called to pick them up, carrying sandwich and snack supplies, and a very joyous face to greet them when they arrive would be happening!
I wonder if I am learning how to integrate my “Mary and Martha?” and make peace with the “Perfect Judge” in my head? Ah, my “Wild Child” is very excited about this transformational work… so I’ll keep “walking” and only stop to rest myself when the silver moon is shining about the trees.
That lonesome road...
This morning, the Vox Peregrini singers stood on the curving staircase of the Stoops Guesthouse B&B and sang “That Lonesome Road.” And I was moved to tears again. There is something deeply Divine going on inside of me through their music.
A memory washed over me as they sang. When Gil was President of Grand Canyon University, he provided the opportunity for vocal musicians to be a part of the President’s Singers choral ensemble. Keith Whitlock was the director and he auditioned sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses to be a part of this unique group.
One evening we were holding a dinner at our home for a group of supporters of the University and the President’s Singers were invited to sing for us (yes, they got dinner as well). They stood in the entryway of our home and sang their signature song, “In This Very Room.” They filled our home with their voices of powerful harmony. The sound radiated throughout the house and created a cocoon of serenity… and beautiful artistic expression. I was moved to tears then as I am now.
I always felt our home was uniquely blessed because of the President’s Singers music. When we sold it, I remember thinking that the new owners are walking into a sacred space… where there was quite enough love, and quite enough joy and quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom. The beauty was I took that same love and joy and hope and power with me because today I remembered how I felt and how I was moved deep in my soul.
One of the Vox Peregrini soprano singers shared with me how meaningful it is for her to have ears to hear her artistic expressions in song. I wonder if this is a part of the movement I’m feeling in my soul? I wonder if the singers and I are creating sacred art together? I wonder what lessons in holy listening will I continue to learn as I wander down that lonesome road…
The walking begins...
Today, I took this photo of 14 pilgrims beginning their hike on the Wicklow Way. They gathered in Clonegal, Ireland to head out over the mountains and valleys of Wicklow County. They will walk almost 100 miles in 8 days ending in Marlay Park near Dublin.
And they will sing… They are Vox Peregrini (check out their website voxperegrini.com).
Last evening at the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church choir practice room, they gathered for the first time to sing together… their first rehearsal… a capella. They heard a pitch and then just sang as if it was like breathing for them.
I had the privilege of sitting amongst them and listening… and it was glorious music swirling over and around and through my heart and soul. I had to work very hard to keep from crying. I knew if I let go, I would be sobbing. It felt like a deep cleansing and healing and opening up space in my soul.
How many times have I missed the opportunity to deeply listen to music? There is usually music playing at our home, in my car, at restaurants, all kinds of public places... at best it is just background noise.
What if I sat down and listened… don’t try to sing along… don't let my “monkey mind” run away with me… hear and feel and let my imagination embrace the music… and dance with it...
Dancing in my imagination is the beautiful ballad, That Lonesome Road, these singers will be memorizing to sing along the way…
“Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself.
Don’t turn your head back over your shoulder.
And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon is shining high above the trees.
If I had stopped to listen once or twice,
If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes,
If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart,
I’d not be on this road tonight.
Carry on… carry on…
Never run feeling sorry for yourself.
It doesn’t save you from your troubled mind.
Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself.
Don’t turn your head back over your shoulder.
And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon is shining high above the trees.”
They are walking… I’m driving to meet them… down my own lonesome road…
Always we begin again...
2015 and I’m In Ireland again…and it’s like visiting an old friend. You can pick up just where you left off with no judgment, just great joy in being together again. Yet, there are all those new conversations and experiences to be embraced, bringing an added depth to the joy.
Gil and I are on the “holiday” part of our month long stay. And speaking of new experiences, we have set off to explore Northern Ireland, in and around Belfast. We’ve walked through part of the ancient forest of Tollymore, wandered around the ruins of Inch Abbey where the ravens swirled above our heads, found a standing stone out in the fields around Audley’s Castle Ward, and enjoyed a fine supper at The Barking Dog.
In the Tollymore Forest, we walked among the trees along a sparkling, cascading stream. Gil mentioned the “baritone” singing of the stream and I began to listen with more imagination. I could hear the sopranos, altos and tenors where the water was running of the rocks in the shallow places. Then we came to a spot where the water fell into a deep pool… ah, there was the bass voice bringing a new rhythm and sound. Here was a rich place for listening. I wonder how many times I’ve missed the voices in my hurrying and “thinking” listening? May I remember to take time to listen with my imagination.
We spent the next day traveling by train to the Giant’s Causeway… a “geological wonder steeped in legend and folklore.” I dressed for rain and the chilling wind of the sea. The sun was shining almost all day so my rain jacket was tied around my waist and a ball hat was purchased to shade my face! We walked along the top of the cliffs with the sea and the lava formations of Mother Earth on one side and the rolling, 40-shades of green fields and farmhouses on the other. Every step brought a new stunning view of the magnificient Creator’s work of shaping and transforming the molten lava into gorgeous beauty for us to behold. I was vividly reminded how we must actively work to cherish Mother Earth and her gifts to us.
My pilgrimage continues… with the intention “to see and be seen.” One of my spiritual companions has given me some words to carry with me… “You don’t have to be good. You don’t have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…” from Mary Oliver’s The Wild Geese.
Always we begin again…. loving…
Musings about the journeys of Cathy and Gil ...