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

8 comments:

Barbara said...

wow! lucy, I don't want to disturb the delicious tension and anticipation of this moment, the awe. It reminds me of the Noh actor's footstep, how choreographed it is, how long it takes for his foot to touch ground and the heightened sense of drama that gave.

Although you really won't know until long after you return, can you give us some idea why you chose to go to the desert and this one in particular?

Abbey of the Arts said...

One of my favorite Cousineau quotes and a great post about the inner promptings that bring us to thresholds we don't quite understand. From my own experience, it often takes months or years to understand the full impact of a journey. May it be blessed, may you know yourself as always on holy ground, may you carry the love of everyone who cares deeply about you in your heart as you ready to bare it under the desert sun. xoxo

Tess said...

It's a strange tension, as Barbara alludes to. I want to hear about it when you get back and I want you to be able to wrap yourself in the privacy of whatever it will be.

Karen said...

I think this is a time when I'm not really going to comment at all--this feels too intense, too awe-inspiring. I'm going to be a silent witness...

lucy said...

barbara - if i didn't want this delicious tension somewhat stirred, i would probably keep this all to myself :-) solitary as this may seem, i value the opportunity to share it with my fellow pilgrims around the world!!

as far as why i chose the desert & this one in particular - forgive me if this sounds somewhat flip, but IT chose me.

i'd never considered going there before and imagined egypt low on my travel list. however, when i sat and listened about the desert fathers and mothers while learning more about celtic spirituality, i had this sense of knowing i would be going on this pilgrimage. i could actually visualize myself seated upon the camel.

there's something about the desert experience that feels simple, harsh & barren yet exhilarating and awe-inspiring. we'll see how it feels once i'm there :-)

thanks so much for wading into these waters (...er... sand dunes) with me!!

lucy said...

christine - thank you for the beautiful blessing. i will indeed carry the love of those who care for me and invite each and everyone to hold me in their hearts as i step into the great unknown. xoxoxo


tess - i welcome your inquiry - knowing i may come out like zechariah(?) whose tongue was tied :-)


karen - please don't fear to tread in here with me! your vocal and/or silent witness are most welcome!!!

claire said...

I find it wonderful that Egypt chose you. I thank you for sharing here your soulful preparations. It will undoubtedly be holy and stirring and life-changing.

Beautiful! Thank you.

lucy said...

claire - you are most welcome. i know this type of journey is not foreign to you! blessings.