Consecutive Days Riding: 13 Consecutive Days Blogging: 14
Today’s Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 132
I’d like to start off by thanking everyone who visited the Pilgrimage Site yesterday. The number of visits far exceeded the level of any previous day. I hope your visit was rewarding! As we head north out of Key Largo we are traveling up the center of the Key which puts us some distance from the beach. As such I figured this might be a good day to touch on a topic I was unable to work into the earlier postings.
I had an interesting interaction with one of my students who is writing a paper about my Blog for her Journalism class. I showed her the Pilgrim’s Symbol (see tab at the top of the page) and told her there was obvious symbolism, subtle symbolism and some very esoteric symbolism embedded in the image. She pointed to an area and said “Yeah I see the Muslim symbol!” I saw what she meant, however that was not what I intended it to be. She quickly responded “Oh I’m sorry!” I told her there was no need to apologize. I expect people to see things in the image that I do not see.
This is the power of symbolism. No matter how much you attempt to make something clear and concise, what another person sees might be very different from what you intended. I created the image and loaded it with various levels of symbolism. I’m sure others will discover things in the image which were not part of my plan.
There are religions that make heavy use of symbols or icons and those that make very little use of symbols and in fact may view them with suspicion. This leaves me with the question: when does a symbol or icon become an idol? I suspect that it is not the characteristics of the image that determine the answer, but the viewpoint and beliefs of the viewer.
Perhaps because I was raised as a Catholic and surrounded by statues, the stations of the cross and of course the stained glass windows that often abound with symbols of faith, I am comfortable with symbols. I see them playing an important role in the integration of an individual’s or group’s belief system. They can be teaching tools or exercises for personal healing.
Symbols are an important remnant of human’s pre-literate history. To the masses of illiterate people, symbols were still the most powerful way of transferring concepts of dogma. A symbol is worth a thousand words. In addition, as noted by Dan Brown (“Da Vinci Code,” “Lost Symbol”), symbols played a role in conveying secrets, and acted as maps to hidden rituals.
My symbolic image was not created to convey any sense of dogma or absolute truth. Certainly it does not include any hidden or secret meaning. It is my personal crest representative of my world view and philosophy. The symbolism speaks to concepts I currently embrace or have embraced in my past.
Quite obviously, the figure in the reclined position with the wheel at it’s feet is symbolic of my virtual journey as a stationary pilgrim. The other symbols speak to ideas and beliefs that guide and direct this journey forward down the road. Don’t apologize for anything you see or don’t see in the image. I suggest you approach it as you would any personal journey. Let meaning unfold for you as a process of discovery.
A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.