Consecutive Days Riding: 57 Consecutive Days Blogging: 58
Today’s Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 493
As I climb on the bike today it is much later than is typical for my morning routine. I have been up for hours, answered comments and messages and spent an hour studying the photo gallery of a new face book friend. Yes, it is a Saturday morning, which allows for a more leisurely pace. But I have to admit, I’m avoiding some difficult questions made relevant by today’s Pilgrimage Site visit.
Some people might say that we are not on a true spiritual pilgrimage because we are not physically travelling to a site. The questions and the soul searching that ensue are the most important aspects of a pilgrimage journey This journey is not like being a tourist, where you walk around and snap a few pictures, talk about the “quaintness” of the site, and wander to the gift shop and then decide what to have for lunch. I think meaningful journeys are those that “make us think” and question ourselves and our choices. They are journeys that may raise unsettling questions about ourselves, our paths, and even about our “people.”
Yesterday we visited the Koreshan Unity Village, a site attesting to the power of dreams of utopian societies. A short five miles down a canal and out into the bay is Mound Key Archeological State Park. The island is devoid of any large manmade structures, with walking trails and interpretative signs. But this spot of raised land centered in a tranquil bay has a proud history. For prior to the arrival of European sails off the eastern shores of Florida, this island was the capital city and ceremonial center of a proud and fierce Native Empire. The Calusa Indian king reigned over an empire encompassing all of what is now southern Florida. Their towns were connected by canals and rivers, while the people lived off of forest fruits and the bountiful sea life. Their island had been raised from the waters by generation of shellfish remains and shards of their pottery. They had constructed this site, the home of their king out of their societies waste.
The Spaniards arrived and established a fort on this the native’s sacred island, followed by the first Jesuit mission in the New World. Was this an attempt to spread the word of peace and salvation, or an effort to undermine a people’s power and steal their resources? How was the arrival of the white man viewed by the natives? Does this question have any relevance today as we faced rising cultural and religious tensions in hot spots around the world?
My ride acts as a reminder that looking at any event in time is a matter to confronting differing perspectives. What is one person’s God directed mission is another person’s land grab and search for treasure. What is for one person an example of survival of the fittest (tribe, culture, or religion) is to another an example of perverse cultural and religious bullying. What is for one person a sign of the greater glory and truthfulness of their beliefs, is to another person a warning of what might befall them in the looming shadow of an economic and religious juggernaut.
I believe all of these perspectives hold truth for the person living within it. And it is an unsettling position to hold! Like children, we all desire straight forward and simple answers to questions about “rights,” about the new ways versus old ways, about the strong versus the weak, about the right versus the wrong side. But if you let yourself listen to the voices of these other people, you will hear whispers of what sounds like “truth.” If you listen close enough I believe you will find in those others: Fellow travelers, fellow pilgrims, fellow human beings, and potential friends.
Please click on the Pilgrimage Site tab at the top of the page to visit the Mound Key Archeological State Park. Tomorrow we head for the beach and then on to a Scientific Pilgrimage Site.