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.
7 thoughts on “The Magic of Turning Any Trip into a Pilgrimage”
Reblogged this on rosepetalsonthepath.
Lori Ann Lothian
ah yes, a great name for it!
Thank you for your words Lori! Talking about synchronicity: one of my pilgrimages took to me to Scotland over 10 years ago. In the end I stayed there. Right now, together with a friend, I am hosting an exhibition alongside with a poem&photo-book. The title: ‘NY – contemplating what is’. So if travelling a distance could happen in an instant you could immerse yourself with images and poems of NY City right in the beautiful environment of Scotland (:
Anyway, very similar questions are with me at this moment, ‘what am I walking towards?’ and the ‘muse’ as one of my favourite aspects in life. So, thank you!! for the reminder, for being on the same wavelength – and I will watch the space.
Lori Ann Lothian
The synchronistic quality of you reading my post in what amounts to a mirror image reversal of things, delights me. Even the name of your exhibition, should you watch the video embed, echoes my very words: “what is” …
Thanks for sharing!
A very interesting blog, Lori. I never thought of it ’til now, but I embarked on an overland trip from my current place of residence in New Mexico up your way in 2014. The purpose of the trip was to re-connect with family members who reside primarily in Canada. Some of my cousins I hadn’t seen since childhood along with some aunts, and a surviving uncle, I have nice memories of from earlier years. I had dreamed up the idea while working, and, when I decided to retire, there it was… my opportunity. To make a long story short, it was very fulfilling to reach out to family after not having contact with most of my remaining relatives for so long. It has renewed our interest in each other if only in a casual sense. Yes, it was a pilgrimage, and I have had quite a few of these experiences throughout my life that have served to enrich and renew my interest in living. Your words are a great reminder of that fact. Thank you!
Lori Ann Lothian
Yes, interesting how many facets there are in any trip, from the self reflective to the tying up of loose ends. And of course, the transformative!
Nice walkabout, Lori.