What I am aware of right now is that even though this particular experience and tour is not publicized as a pilgrimage, the principles of pilgrimage are always at work in us if we allow them to be. I become immediately attuned to different languages and customs. My assumed norms that get me through a day, a routine, are out the window. The climate is different. The smells are foreign. The rooster crowing in the middle of the city at the crack of dawn (!) (I understand that is not weird if you live in Lafayette, CA, but this is NOT something I hear every day in Concord). I am in a foreign land. This is not my home, but when I allow myself to sink in deeply and to wonder (and wander), my soul discovers more fully what it seeks to know. It just seems that there are lots of assumptions I must leave behind. Preconceived notions that I must release. I have to create an openness to receive the gifts of the day and the moment.
I look forward to sharing this journey with all of you and to share with you some insights from along the way, both from me and from our group. In a few days our group will grow as we join several international delegations as well as our own small U.S. group. More to discover, to be sure. With the help of my sweet, thoughtful husband, I have some questions to guide me:
1. Who did you meet today?
2. What did you learn today?
3. How was your soul/faith/spirit touched or transformed today?
These are tough questions on a day of air travel. I did meet many for brief moments, but they were all very busy, or difficult to understand (the Turkish accent is a hard one for me), or uninterested in engaging in conversation. I had a seat mate on the short flight and she was from Texas and could not have been older than my eldest daughter (25). She had me beat as this was her 4th trip to Israel. She was going to visit friends. She is a dive instructor and her last time traveling was to lead a Jewish fitness camp in Israel. Who knew!? I also encountered all the myriad of dress including berkas, Haredi hats and so many languages. We met our driver for the duration of our time and Muhammad was gracious, warm and already eager to answer the 100s of questions that Westerners tend to ask.
I was touched by the land as we entered and I could feel the shift in myself and the excitement mounting to begin this journey and to share it with others. Also, touched by the fact that we made it here with few complications or delays.
Be well, my friends. And until we meet again, consider the path you make by walking.
P.S. (a footnote) - Some of you may ask what exactly is a pilgrimage? Here is one definition:
A pilgrimage is a ritual journey with a hallowed purpose. Every step along the way has meaning. The pilgrim knows that life giving challenges will emerge. A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which significant change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained. New and old places in the heart are visited. Blessings are received and healing takes place. On return from the pilgrimage, life is seen with different eyes. Nothing will ever be quite the same again.
Behold Your Life, p. 11