By Valerie Brown
“….Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together.”
—Margaret Wheatley, from Turning to One Another
As I return next month with a group of pilgrims to Walk in Beauty: Pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago, Spain, The Way of Saint James, to walk this 1000 year old epic trail, my thoughts turn to the nature of pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage is both an inner and outer journey of body, mind, and spirit. The heart of pilgrimage is uncertainty and vulnerability. Though you may read guide books, talk with friends, and train faithfully for the physical challenge, there is always an unknown element. Pilgrimage is an intentional journey into the experience of unknowing and sometimes discomfort to grow closer to your ‘true self’, to a deeper sense of wholeness, and this doesn’t mean perfection. Pilgrimage shouldn’t be confused with a ‘hiking vacation’ or a time to ‘get away from it all’. Instead, pilgrimage is an opportunity to meet yourself in a new and different way, to reflect on your inner life and on what is most meaningful to you. The pilgrimage path and fellow pilgrims are part of the experience of self-discovery and understanding.
In Latin the root of the word pilgrimage, peregrini, means ‘strange’ or ‘stranger’. To become a pilgrim is to be a stranger in service of transformation, which is an alchemical, transformational, and deeply mysterious process. Every stage of becoming a pilgrim has the potential to be a source of the sacred and transformative:
· The Longing: recognizing the deep and often heartfelt desire for pilgrimage; sometimes, beyond language; often marked by hesitation and procrastination; overcoming doubt and fear
· The Call: willingness to take risk for inner growth and development; following a strong impulse and allocating resources; preparation
· The Departure: clarifying intention; preparation; slowing down into kairos time
· The Arrival: becoming fully present; engaging the senses
· The Pilgrim’s Way: recognizing and engaging the sacred journey
· Returning Home: preparation for re-entry; discovering what has changed within
To be a pilgrim is to be connected and interconnected to life. A perfect metaphor for this web of interconnection is Indra’s Net, from Hindu cosmology and the Rig Veda. Indra, is a god whose net hangs over the palace of Mount Meru. Indra’s net is a multifaceted jewel and at each juncture and each jewel is reflected in all of the other jewels into infinity.
Walk in Beauty Pilgrimages seek to nurture this interconnectedness within each person to build ‘Beloved community’.
Walk in Beauty Pilgrimage Ethos
We believe that traveling under your own power and at your own pace with a supportive community opens up an opportunity to connect more meaningfully with the world. Our mission is to provide not just a travel experience but rather a pilgrimage journey so transformative that it becomes a defining moment in your life. We provide amazing support on meticulously planned itineraries with superb accommodations and regional-delicious cuisine so you can be totally present enjoying ‘your Camino, your Way’.
We welcome and support people from diverse racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, languages, ages, abilities, immigration and socio-economic status, and spiritual practices.
Savor the art of building community one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time through transformational pilgrimage travel.
Walk in Beauty Pilgrimages for 2020 are now open for registration. Visit www.leadsmartcoaching.com to learn more.