Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Journey Has Already Begun

I am the one who sits and waits. Waiting for what? The pilgrimage? Today? Tomorrow? The Holy? The Sacred is already here. I sit in the shadows - in the space of waiting. The already and the not yet. My heart has turned to the desert. The journey has begun. The Sacred text written on every branch before me... still, I am curious about the shadows and what I do not and cannot already know.

I awakened today (& yesterday, too) wondering - What is wrong with me? Is something the matter? I leave for Egypt in two days and all I want to do is immerse myself in Instant Netflix offerings of Veronica Mars. It's almost a compulsion and I ponder - Am I avoiding or am I waiting or something entirely different?

I can't make myself read the history of St. Anthony (whose footsteps I will be following.) Instead I read the current Vanity Fair and the sad adventures of Lindsey Lohan. My heart breaks for the world around me AND I feel wrapped inside my own little cocoon. The journey has already begun.

"In each of us dwells a pilgrim. It is the part of us that longs to have direct contact with the sacred." - Phil Cousineau

How do you respond for the pilgrimage of life each day? Do you wait? Avoid? Jump in? What is your longing for contact with the sacred? Please, do tell!

Who knows whether I will return to this space before I depart for the desert? In case I don't, please know I will carry those I love with me (that includes you) and would cherish knowing a space is being held for me in your heart as I travel into the unknown. Peace and blessings, friends. Namaste.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Standing on Holy Ground

"...if the journey you have chosen is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren't trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn't the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion." Phil Cousineau

For regular readers, you may have noticed a mention here and there of an upcoming trip to the Sinai desert. In sharp contrast to my Paris trip of three years ago, this one has been enveloped in silent revelation. My preparations are more internal and I find I have fewer words to say - except I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing. While Paris was a pilgrimage of its own kind, my first "official" pilgrimage came about this same time last year when I traveled to Ireland. It was on that fair isle that I "knew" I would be going to Egypt (although with no forethought of this rapid timing.)

A 2nd pilgrimage is kind of like birthing your 2nd child. With the first one, ignorance is bliss. One can get all caught up in the excitement of the preparation without a clue of the life changing impact that awaits. With Ireland (as with my first child), I prepared and anticipated and understood it would alter my life, but didn't factor in the painful birthing and permanence of change. With my second physical birthing, I remembered the hours of labor, the discomfort and the incredible joy of bringing new life into the midst.

So, as I prepare to leave for the Sinai desert in about 10 days, I am awaiting my 2nd birth with trembling and awe. I know I am approaching holy ground. While in Ireland, I removed my shoes and sunk my toes in the rich damp loam. I walked across sharp rocks in an abandoned chapel and felt the sting of holiness surround me. The contrast of that damp climate and where I am going could not be greater. Arid air. Burning sand. Desolate terrain. Will my feet beg to curl their toes into the hot desert? I will travel in the path of Moses. Will I, too, receive the command to remove my shoes?

How does one prepare for something like this? Cousineau says if its the "real thing" then it will be challenging and you will tremble in its wake. In the past weeks as my departure date assuredly approaches, I have wondered, "Is this real?"... and then I read a phrase or hear my guide's voice and my heart trembles. I can only describe it as awe. It is joy mixed with terror. I have come into the presence of the almighty God. She beckons me to don my desert attire - to pare down - to simply come.

Simplicity has been my guide for several months now. My body is strong and lean. It bends and moves in the heat of hot yoga. My most challenging pose is "camel" - a heart-opening pose. Is this coincidence? Irony? Preparation? My home is clean and decluttered. I've been removing items that no longer serve me - that take up excess space in my life. I'm opening up for something - for what I do not know. I don't dare to even guess. This journey beckons me like a deer to water - like a Bedouin to an oasis. Surety has left my thinking and has entered my soul. I know I am standing on Holy ground - dare I know more?

photo © h3images

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Next Small Step

What happens when you start imagining what you can do and not what you can't? What happens when you do the next small thing instead of focusing on saving the world? What happens when you focus on simplicity rather than complexity? When you follow your heart rather than the world's suggestions? What happens? Simply? - Things begin to change.

Do you want change? Do I want change? Am I open to possibilities beyond my wildest imagination? Am I willing to tread on the ground of an amazing God? Will I take off my shoes because I am standing on holy ground? Even in this moment as I sit and write, the themes of my life swirl around me as I respond and answer Yes, Yes Yes! I am willing to step in AND it can be terrifying.

I've been participating in a weekly exercise called "This week, I will..." The first step being to name my weekly intention. As I sat quietly and journaled, I found "focus on the next small step" to be my intention for this week. It's a harder thing to do than one might think. I find myself easily coming up with the next step, but then quickly wanting to move to the one beyond. So, I reign myself in, slow down and do the smallest step right before me. This morning my step was to clear out my office baskets and file them into my new filing cabinet. Simple, easy and satisfying. This step was followed by going to today's reading from Mark Nepo. Here are the opening words:

"Walker, there is no path, you make the path as you walk." --Antonio Machado

The reading went on to discuss how we are constantly taking first steps and how stepping too far into the future can make us stumble like a toddler who suddenly realizes she's walking on her own momentum or a child learning to ride a bike once the parent lets go. We peddle along content in the trajectory of the present moment until we jolt ourselves into the future by realizing everything that must be done or hasn't been done or should get done...

AND so I choose the only thing I can do. I return to the present. I focus on the next small thing. I take a deep breath. I slow down and step into the holy ground of my heart. As I listen to my body, it confirms my longing. It offers the next step. It opens me up to possibility. It offers me completion and satisfaction, because you know what? I can always do the next small thing - and if that seems too overwhelming, then I back off and make it a little smaller. This reminds me of the powerful knowledge I learned a few years ago when reading The Four Agreements - One of the agreements is "Always do your best." It was incredibly freeing for me to acknowledge sometimes my "best" means staying right where I am - perhaps pulling the covers back over my head and doing only the most basic thing like breathing. So...

What happens when you focus on the next small thing instead of trying to save the world - or your family - or yourself? What happens when you focus on simplicity instead of complexity? What does the next small step look like? I invite you to consider the possibilities of creating the path as you walk. Where do you dream it will go?

shilshole crow © lucy 7.10

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Me Versatile?? You bet!!

I absolutely adore receiving awards. I can check my modesty at the door and say bring it on when someone wants to tell me I've done something extraordinary. In this case, 'extraordinary' might be a bit strong, however, I'll take my bows and thank Sunrise Sister for honoring me with the Versatile Blogger award. (I've been wanting a new little something for my sidebar.) This seems especially honoring in light of my moderate productivity rate this summer. So, thank you, SS!!!

I'm going to choose, however, to keep with the moderation and not officially pass this on to 10 specific bloggers. Instead, I invite you to check your own modesty at the door if you consider yourself a versatile blogger and grab one of these nifty little buttons for your own. I would ask, however, as a small token, you share 7 things we may not know about you. For me, it was harder than I might have thought since I really do try to share the juiciest tidbits with you here!! So, here goes - in no specific order - or significance. Have a grand day!!!!

1. I rarely pass a blooming rose without stopping to inhale its aroma. On my regular route, I have distinguished between which roses are worth breaking my pace and which ones have lost their scent for the sake of extreme outer beauty. (Oh, I think there may be a post in that one. ☺)

2. Someone told me once that your abs disappear after a certain age. For years I chose to believe them. Thanks to new eating habits, hot yoga, weekly workouts, & more delicious activities, my abs are starting to make a reappearance.

3. Many of you have followed me on a variety of international travels, so you might be interested to know that I applied for my first passport 7 years ago. It now holds a visa approved for Egyptian travel for the next six months ☺.

4. I leave for my Egyptian pilgrimage in less than 3 weeks. My flight takes me through Paris and I’m trying to decide if I have enough time and gumption to take a quick spin around the Eternal City during my layover.

5. My primary mode of journaling lately has been doodling and colored pencils while listening to either music or podcasts.

6. When I was in the 4th grade, I was an elf in the Christmas pageant (a very small supporting role). I got so nervous I almost threw up. Major stage fright!!!

7. I haven’t had a glass of wine (or any other adult beverage) since I returned from Hawaii more than 6 months ago. Not a big story there (well… maybe a little story ☺), but it just feels right for now.