Archive for November 8th, 2009

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  30                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 31

Today’s Mileage:   5                                           Total Trip Mileage: 280


     As I ride the bike today I find myself dwelling on the importance of the act of remembrance.  We celebrated the Day of the Dead last weekend and will recognize the contributions and sacrifices of military men and women this Wednesday with Veterans Day.  It also happens; I did not plan this, that we will visit two Pilgrimage Sites today and tomorrow that harkens us to “return to our roots” and not forget the positive as well as negative of our shared histories.

     Pilgrimages of Remembrance may take us to any number of personal and/or community sites.  Some people return to graveyards or burial grounds as a means of reconnecting with someone who offered safety and guidance in the past.  Perhaps we wish to connect with their ghost or rekindle the memories of wisdom they had provided.  We may visit community sites to remind ourselves of how far we have progressed as a “people” and the individual heroes who raised our eyes to the possibilities of change.  We may travel to a site so as “not to forget” the loss and sacrifice of others who paved the way for our current freedoms and accomplishments. We may visit sites as reminders of the tragic errors and mistakes that have been made in the past by well meaning people and the costs that have been paid by others.

     It is important to note, as Jennifer Westwood did in her book Sacred Journeys that: “Pilgrimage is a journey to, not an escape from.” In psychology we often talk about escape and avoidance as a process individuals undertake to extract themselves from difficult situations and to avoid returning to these situations.  While this may seem like an adequate solution it is often problematic because the person fails to recognize the reasons why they first entered the situation or how to extract themselves in a more positive manner.  I’m reminded of a friend who had been married and divorced three times.  Each new husband had a different name and was addicted to a different drug! It was only after her recognition of this destructive pattern that her fourth try at marriage was met with success!

    Sadly for many people their attempt at escape and avoidance does not even represent a true retreat from the situation, but a withdrawal into fantasy (movies, books, affairs, fantasy relationships on the internet, daydreaming about the past, etc.).  Some individuals return to the places of their youth, their scrap books and photo albums to try and recapture feelings of joy and hope that have been lost.  This is not a pilgrimage; this is an attempted retreat and escape from the unpleasant present. 

shotarot     True pilgrimages may lead us through memories, places and photos of our past, but always for the purpose of journeying from the present into the future. Today we will visit one of two pilgrimage sites on the south end of Miami Beach.  Both sites are associated with the Jewish faith and their history.  The Jewish Museum of Florida contains items and photographs chronicling the history of the Miami Jewish community.  Many of the collections’ photos speak to the importance and political power of this community and to the important role it played in the mosaic that is South Florida.

     Please go to the Pilgrimage Site tab at the top of the page to visit the site.  Tomorrow, as we will visit the strikingly beautiful, disturbing and thought provoking Holocaust Memorial of Miami Beach. Thanks for joining me and have a wonderful day!

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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