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Friday, January 23, 2015

Wanderlust or wanderlost?

The saying goes "All who wander are not lost."  I think in my case the saying would more accurately be, "all who wander want you to think they are not lost."  I am consistently losing my way.   I'm the poster girl for the benefits of GPS, tracking devices, direction and map apps, etc.  I remember the first time I walked a labyrinth.  The instructor/facilitator told us it was distinguished from a maze, partly because there is only one way in and one way out and there was no way you could get mixed up about how walk to the center and back out again.  WRONG!  I somehow managed to mess it up.

Mostly, I'm okay with this trait.  It's not something that really bugs me or feels like a significant deficit, nor is it a factor that has diminished my quality of life in any significant way.    In fact, it is much the opposite.  It is amazing what you find when you are willing to get lost or to take different routes or simply to just stop for a while because you have no idea where you are.  When I can do that, it reminds me that it is okay to be lost and it is okay to stay in the space for a little while until I find my bearings once again.  I notice things.  I meet people.  Unexpected things happen.

I can recall a day over two years ago when I was in the Old City of Jerusalem.  It was near the end of our 16 days in the Holy Land on pilgrimage, a kind of wandering, and while my traveling companions went to the Dead Sea and Masada, I felt I needed a day to myself.  I wanted to retrace my steps.  I wanted to find things on my own.  So, I started off fairly early in the morning and made my way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  It was already crowded but I spent a bit of time there to pray.  Then, I decided that I wanted to go back toward the Western Wall and especially to the Jewish Quarter, because we had not really spent much time there.  I went to a museum, I wandered around the shops and I got a bagel before things started to close up for the Sabbath.  This was when I noticed that nearly everywhere I went and every turn I made there was something locked.  I could not get in to the synagogue.  Everywhere I turned there was a blocked entry.  Other churches, businesses and the like were closed or closing.  I finally got tired of trying, even though the posted hours were later, people were clearly intent on starting their time of rest.  So, I began to make my way back to the Armenian, Christian and Muslim quarters.   Just as I was getting fairly close to my hotel and a possible lunch, the call to prayer was sounded.  The narrow, uneven walk ways started to be filled with rushing men, women and children who were on their way to pray.    I started to get overwhelmed.  I was hungry, thirsty, tired and now feeling a bit claustrophobic.    On top of all that, with all the people and my feelings of lightheadedness, I was not sure where I needed to turn to get to
my destination.  I tried several of the different alleyways (the Old City is definitely NOT a labyrinth, but more like a maze), and all of them were dead ends or wrong ways.  I was not panicked, but I was frustrated.  Finally, I found a way that got me to go just outside the gates and walls of the Old City.  At this point, I was actually laughing at myself because it was classically me.    Since I was alone, had no idea when my travel companions would return, and there did not appear to be anyone to help guide me back, I decided to take the long and circuitous route on the perimeter of the city back to the starting point of my little adventure.  I'm sure it added at least an extra mile to my already long day of walking.

I remember thinking that this is pilgrimage.  I surrendered my agenda and my ideals about how I should get to where I was going.  I had to go far out of my way to gain perspective and find my way back.  I noticed things I would not otherwise have been aware.  Today, when I was walking the trails at Bandon Dunes and found a labyrinth,  as is so often the case, I was not able to find my way by following the map.  I asked directions but they weren't that helpful.  Finally, I found the road and I knew the general direction that would get me back to my car.  And I thought,  to myself, "yeah, right, all who wander are not lost.  I am simply working my way back home."

P.S.  As I was driving back from my wandering lost, this song came on the radio:

1 comment:

  1. I love that you name your experiences as 'pilgrimage.'
    I see that I too have been on many pilgrimages where I "surrendered my agenda and my ideals about how I should get to where I was going."