"...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?
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