I was 40 years old when I figured out that any trip away from my ordinary, everyday life had the potential to be transformative and mystical.
That magical trip was a year after the shock-grief of my mother’s accidental death. Despairing sadness had given way to an overall restless dissatisfaction with my life. My marriage was bland, my work as a clairvoyant felt rote and my role as a mother felt draining. Even my beautiful four year old girl could not rouse my spirits.
I simply felt hollow.
So I took a trip away from home to hopefully break the spell of ennui. Back then, I did not call it a pilgrimage. I might have said to my then-husband something like, “I just need to get away.” Or maybe I phrased it as a “vision quest,” that shamanic tradition of isolation as a way to see your truest way forward.
What that ten day trip to Scotland turned out to be was an unexpected journey into significance. I discovered for the first time just how enchanted my life could feel and how much guidance was available if only I paid attention.
Being away from home, alone, in a foreign country allowed me to enter a kind of silence of mind I’d not before encountered. And in that silence, what emerged was a kind of sacred attention.
I began for the first time to see that every single detail of my experience was a communication from God. Well, the God that I am and you are too. In essence, I discovered that I could view my life as a waking dream. I could see the import of events as symbols that had meaning. I began from them on to dialogue with the universe, using the happenings of my life as a holy grammar.
You see, your soul speaks to you in metaphor and symbol. And when you get that every thing that occurs in your life—from repeating digits to relentless synchronicity—is a conversation you are having with your own divinity, then life gets fun and magical.
Let me illustrate. (With pictures!)
Just two days ago, I journeyed to New York City (from my Vancouver Canada home). On my first day there I decided to walk from my Soho Air b n b rental to the Battery Park City area I’d lived in in the late 80’s. On the half hour walk, I encountered a series of messages from what crossed my path and of course, what I paid attention to.
Before leaving on my walk, I was remembering the Chelsea area magazine publisher I’d worked for years ago called Media Horizons.
As I strolled down several streets on the way to my destination, I saw two oddly connected signs right after each other. One for a company called Horizon Media, and then minutes later a preschool called Bright Horizons. Clearly a theme for the day was the word “horizon.”
In the context of this pilgrimage, one of the things I am reflecting on is the horizon of my life. What exactly do i want to “walk toward” in the sense it is the long-distance goal? The horizon of my professional and creative life is the big mystery for me right now.
I know I don’t want to be a formal “teacher” of spirituality. Nor do I simply want to write blog posts for various media outlets without a meaningful context.
Just after seeing both of these horizon signs, I bumped into this bit of graffiti in Tribeca. If you know me, you know that muse is a keyword in my life and means to follow the creative inspiration in all things. And here it was, right in my face.
By the time I completed my walk to the site of my old home in Battery Park City, on 377 Rector Place, I felt the messages sinking in. Stay true to the muse. Focus on the horizon.
Oh, and then this sweet baby showed up. This is the wine store I used to frequent when I lived down the street from it. I went by it to see if it still existed and was greeted by this window affirmation: Love. Plus free delivery!
So, there is an example of how a simple half hour walk can become a meaningful dialogue with your own soul.
And sure, I do this kind of thing back home too. But it’s so much easier to pay attention from the vantage of curiosity and playfulness when I remove myself from daily routine and every day locations.
Awareness is here, on a Manhattan pilgrimage.
Oh, a short video you might enjoy on the Art of Pilgrimage in Awakening.