Posts Tagged ‘artwork’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  128                                              Days Blogged: 110

New Mileage: 5                                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 904

A Journey of Discovery!

Yesterday my blog was about light, stained glass windows and memories.  It was inspired by the visit to the Morse Museum and the Tiffany stained glass, but also by my interaction with the morning sunlight on my commute to the University.  One of the aspects of my pilgrimage journey that I find so enjoyable is the process of discovery, whether it be searching for pilgrimage sites and discovering places like St. Leo’s Abby, or a Buddhist temple with numerous shrines.  In addition I enjoy the opportunity to meet so many new people from diverse and different places all over the world.  At times I will let myself wander among the faces of my widening friendship circle on Facebook, like I wander a flower garden or museum.  I marvel at what I find around the corner, at my feet or hanging on the wall!

 On numerous occasions I have discovered stunning photographs and inspiring artwork by my Facebook friends.  I see this as one of those gifts that life offers, like taking a walk and listening to beautiful bird songs or seeing an unexpectedly stunning blossom, or being blessed with a sudden insight.

Decision Looms Ahead!

Today I wanted to share the artwork of one of my Facebook friends.  Her name is Jill, she lives in the upstate of South Carolina and among her photos was a “collection” of her recent paintings.  I have never met Jill, but I recognize in her paintings qualities of my own outlook on the world, I recognize the signs of a fellow traveler, a pilgrim on a spiritual journey of discovery.  I found myself spending time simply taking in the colors and the contrast, and finding what was for me profound meaning with respect to life’s journey.  

In one of my earlier postings, (Dec. 2, 2009) I noted the symbolic significance of Bridges, Paths, and Portals.  When I see Jill’s artwork I’m reminded again of analogy of life as a path.  We walk down this path; sometimes we’re alone, sometimes with others.  Sometimes the path is well trodden, like an interstate highway, at other times it’s barely a recognizable trail, like the deer paths I find in the woods on my hikes.  As with any journey there are decision points or places where the path will fork and we have to decide do we turn right or left?  Sometimes the path to the right maybe a steep upward climb, while to the left lays a fast downward track.  Sometimes the path seems to widen, giving one space to roam, other times the path disappears around a bend or behind some trees.

Roads or Rivers... Both are paths!

When I study Jill’s artwork I think of these decisions.  I also think of the fact, as was mentioned in my blog the other day, (Feb. 15 – Looking at Nature Makes You Nicer) that it’s best to stop and smell the roses when you have the opportunity.  It’s best to be aware of nature’s gifts with every step, along the journey.  The decisions, the forks in the road, will greet us but we shouldn’t worry about what’s around the next bend.  As long as we’re prepared to respond, as long as we’re aware of our surroundings and ourselves, when we turn that corner we will face whatever is there.

 I am thankful for artwork like Jill’s I find it to be comforting and familiar.  It captures the “feel good” qualities of nature at the same time it inspires the viewer to look a little closer at their surroundings, to be aware of what’s around us and to take in the big scene at times.  Part of the process of life is finding a balance between looking down, so as to not trip over things, and looking up so we don’t miss the panoramic views.  Life as a journey is not without its dangers (e.g., stumbling stones, potholes, mud on the path) but it is a path lined with a bountiful harvest of gifts (e.g., flowers, artwork, sunlight, and the smiles of friends).  Look up… look down… and enjoy both views!  How many gifts have you found and enjoyed today?

Thank you Jill for letting me share your gifts with our widening circle and keep up the good work!

I vote to follow the flowers around the bend!

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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  99                                        Days Blogged: 93 

New Mileage: 12                                                         Total Trip Mileage: 763

As I climb on the bike this morning I am I thinking about the pilgrimage site we will be visiting today; The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Florida.  It represents the first time we have visited what I call an Artistic Site.  You might ask how artwork or an entire art museum can represent a spiritual destination.  One way in which artwork might meet this distinction would be if the art in question was of a religious nature, such as an exhibition of medieval church art or African tribal masks. The second way is that the site might display artwork that represents an artist’s spiritual journey.  It might highlight transitions or changes in the artist’s work as they grappled with spiritual questions.

Dali: A work of Art!

Columbus Discovers the New World

Today’s site represents this second approach as it highlights aspects of Dali’s unfolding spirituality.  Dali is certainly an intriguing character and first gained fame prior to war II as a representative of the Surrealism movement in art.  Surrealism is defining as a literary and artistic movement influenced by writer and poet Andre Breton and his interpretation of Sigmund Freud’s work on dreams and the unconscious mind. Surrealistic artists, like Dali, attempted to paint the ‘reality’ of their dreams, which they saw as more ‘real’ than the reality of the everyday world.  He is most famous for his works featuring melting time pieces and figures.  A review of a Dali’s biography indicates that his artwork went through a number of shifts and changes.  He started with the Impressionist and Cubist styles then joined the Surrealist movement.  He had a falling out with Breton and other surrealist painters before moving to the United States from Europe to avoid World War II.  It was at this time that he entered what would be called his “classical period.”   He began a series of 19 large canvases, many of them focused on scientific, historical or religious themes. Shortly after returning to Europe in the late 1940s he announced his conversion to Catholicism and promised: “My paintings in the future will be an amalgam of my Surrealist experience and the classicism of the Pre-Raphaelites and Renaissance.” 

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

I was unable to find specific references to the reason for this transformation in his personal life, however,  I suspect that he, like many artists and writers, struggled to “make sense” of the world after World War II. The devastation of Europe and the Holocaust had a profound effect on many people. Questions about the meaning of life lead some people to even question whether God existed or was in fact “dead.”  Others return to their church roots and/or became fascinated with the proliferation of new scientific discoveries. One biographer noted that that Dali showed a particular interest in the area of nuclear physics, perhaps struck by the power of the atom and the nuclear bombs that fell upon Japan. His interest in science is evidenced by his painting honoring Crick and Watson, the founders of DNA.  His shift to religious themes is evidenced by his paintings: “Temptations of St. Anthony,” or “Christ of Saint John of the Cross,” or the “Last Supper.”  There was some evidence of religious conflict as seen in his drawing: “Sometimes I Spit for Pleasure on the Portrait of my Mother,” where he painted the words over an outline of the Christ of the Sacred Heart.

 Like many artists and writers I get questions from people about the creative process, where it comes from and what role it can play in our life.  I see the creative process as a powerful spiritual process.  Our creative efforts can be a representation of what we already believe, where our beliefs guide the process of choosing and creating symbols.  At other times the process of discovery guides the unfolding artwork and the artist can be just as shocked and awed, as any viewer, at the symbolic outcome.  I’ve had people look at my artwork and excitedly proclaim what they see; I often smile and thank them for their observation, because now I see more complexity and more meaning in the work myself.

Christ of St. John of the Cross

 I suspect that Salvador Dali’s work falls into both of these categories.  Some are likely reflections of his conversion to Catholicism, while others reflect his personal process of discovery and may act as a mirror for the viewer to conduct their own personal exploration. I suspect that really good art does both.  You may see what you already know and feel comfortable with, or you may see new things that raise questions and open doors onto a new reality.  The creative process, like any pilgrimage or journey, has the potential to inspire and clarify as well as the potential to raise disquieting questions and undermine our belief system.  If all life is a journey, we have no choice but to live it, to continue our process of discovery!

Sometimes I spit on my MotherPlease click on the pilgrimage site tab to find in webpage information concerning the Salvador Dali Museum webpage.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  81                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 82

Today’s Mileage: 6                                              Total Trip Mileage: 677

I’m not riding my stationary bike as I dictate today’s posting. I will climb on it later. As I noted yesterday, some days I feel the need to walk. Today I felt the need to start a fire to burn off some of the dead branches and trees I thinned out over the summer.  I’m walking in the woods along the river thinking about yesterday and my visit to the High Art Museum in Atlanta. I enjoyed the smorgasbord of artistic images.  We started our visit in the European wing of the building.  The show featured a number of Renaissance era paintings and as might be expected, most of them had religious themes.  The Madonna and Christ child were popular topics.

Contemplating Nothingness!

This got me thinking about the connection between art and spirituality.  Art historians and anthropologists might argue that the two have always gone hand in hand.  The prehistoric cave painting and objects found in early burial sites clearly had spiritual meaning and significance to members of ancient communities and cultures.  These early artists were as much “craftsman” as they were what we would now call artists.  Huston Smith in his book The World’s Religion, notes that in the early primal or earth based tradition such as the American Indians: “there is no word for art, because to Indians everything is art.  Equally, everything is, in its way religious.”  There was no distinction between secular and sacred objects. A cave painting, a weapon, a bowl or spoon; all had spiritual significance for there was no dualistic division of the spiritual world from the mundane world. When the world and its objects all contained the divine and were interconnected, there were no distinctions between object, function and creator. All were intertwined.

Does it Bite?

Prior to the Renaissance in Western Europe, all art was tied to spiritual themes such as the old and new testaments or the ancient myths of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.  This was to be expected because the church was the primary consumer of art with its need for icons and symbolism to present beliefs and teachings to an uneducated mass of followers.  The church, meaning the Catholic Church, dictated what was defined as art and what was defined as heresy. With the arrival of the rich mercantile and powerful aristocratic classes art work broke free of religious oversight and control.  Art became eventually what we know it to be today, both functional art and art for “art’s sake” (i.e. the artist’s needs and desires). 

Hurry get a Nail!

Turn on the TV or open a magazine and you will see functional art used for the purpose of commerce.  Watch a political rally, like the recent tea bag events, and you will see art used as an emotional “call to arms” (e.g. Obama drawn with a Hitler mustache; or a cartoon of Mohammad as a mad bomber) to inflame emotions or steel a group’s resolve.

Where do you want this?

Art has also come to serve an individual purpose for the artist and/or the viewer.  It becomes a means for the artist to explore their beliefs and attitudes and  to make a statement about their view of reality.  As such, it may convey a sense of connection if that is what the artist “knows,” or a sense of anger and disconnect, if that is what they are experiencing.

The denial of saint Peter

One of the religious paintings I studied for some time, scribbling my thoughts into my pocket notebook was Nicholas Tournier: The Denial of Saint Peter, painted in 1630.  The painting presents the story of Peter’s denial of his relationship to Christ. The size and lighting of the figures makes it an imposing and powerful image. I was struck at how this painting points to a simple fact of human nature. Understanding is always embedded in the current world view!  The painting is populated by Peter, a pair of accusers, and a group of disinterested Roman soldiers playing dice.  I read the description twice to make sure they were noted as Roman soldiers.  I smiled and shook my head because the soldiers bore no Roman style uniforms or weapons!  Several wore armor that was common during the European middle ages.  Obviously the artist used images and items that the viewers of his time could identify with!  However, it was interesting to note that only the figure of Peter wears facial hair and a garment close to what might have been worn in Christ’s time.  Why would the artist make it easy for the viewer to identify with the accusers and uninterested soldiers and not the Apostle Peter?  I’m sure some religious historian would have a lot to say to that question.

It ain't heavy its artwork!

Why bring this up you might ask?  Because what fits for artwork, it’s “rootedness” in a particular time and place, also fits for literature, even for sacred scriptures.  Academic careers can be based on the study of the meaning of a particular symbol, word or phrase, especially if the words have gone through repeated translations or the symbol survives an illiterate “lost” culture. Some individuals and faith communities, recognizing this fact, have abandoned sacred scriptures and ancient myths.  They embrace the revelations of the present, the mystical experience arising moment-to-moment. More traditional approaches embrace the words and symbol of the sacred stories and the idea that the meaning will be revealed through study and contemplation. Both approaches have strengths and weaknesses and both use art in different ways.

Who ordered the large slice?

What did I enjoy most about my visit to the museum?  What I enjoyed most was interacting with the art! The images were thought provoking and I appreciated their beauty. I apologized to the museum guards who looked puzzled, and to the young art history major who looked askew at my irreverent actions and attitude.  I took the art and made it a part of “the moment,” we had a relationship and became a larger work of art!  My partner laughed and the art said nothing.  I carried images of this interaction with me when I left, the images I now share with you.

I didn't do it, nobody saw me, you can't prove anything!

My suggestion to my readers: create art if you are so inclined.  Appreciate and study art when you are given the opportunity.  Find a way to have a relationship with art.  For whether it is inspired by some celestial deity, or a product of some divine creative process which is God, it is always a gift!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  80                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 81

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 671

Do you ever have one of those mornings when you wake early and feel the need to take a walk to help clear you mind, still the swirl of voices, the struggle of feelings?  I had one of those this morning. 

I got up, threw on my jacket and gloves and retrieved my Dictaphone from the car.  As I walked up the street I found the swirling struggle of thoughts and feelings did not diminish!  The Dictaphone would not record and produced only a loud whine.  I pocketed it, deciding that perhaps I was meant to walk and just “be with” nature.  While the stars twinkled overhead, a biting north wind chilled me to the bone.  I chastised myself, as someone who had survived delivering papers in Dakota winters, the howling Alaskan winds and Antarctic storms, I could certainly put up with a chilly breeze. This idea of a walk, was just not working!  I turned around, picked up my pace and a short time later I had returned to the warmth of my studio.

Nine Eleven Taoist Walking Stick

As I ride the bike this morning I have no clear idea of what to blog about.  Yesterday I spoke about the need to sometimes just “be” in the moment.  I can do “just being” quite well when I’m surrounded by nature, standing in front of a fire, or walking in the woods.  I have heard the call of nature as it is the source of much of my creativity (e.g. my nature poems, wall hangings, and artwork) and provides a calming and peaceful respite.  It is a pull that can become so strong it leads people to becoming hermits and mountain men to retreat from human contact.

The Webfooted Taoist Walking Stick

I have heard the call and pull toward relationships with other people.  I have found great joy and pride as a parent watching their child explore, grow and become their own person.  I have felt the intense passion shared by lovers, felt the intense need to seek out friends for conversation during both moments of great joy and deep despair.  I have felt the joy and satisfaction of guiding and mentoring others through “rough times.”  I have also seen and felt the costs of relationships with others.  I have experienced the heart wrenching pain of a parent watching a child “crash and burn.”  I felt frustration as I watched friends and patients make poor choices that destroyed and damaged their lives, their health, and the lives of their loved ones. I have looked into pained and pleading eyes with little to offer.

I have heard the call of the divine, experienced its presence in the world around me, in the people I meet and deep within my being. I have met people who live their faith in positive life affirming ways and act as models for the rest of us.  I have met people who appear to have no relationship with the divine but find meaning in their possessions and accomplishments. I have known people whose relationship with the divine fed their sense of importance and self-righteousness but acted as a wedge between them and others. 

"Bare to the Bones" Taoist Walking Stick

I truly believe for me, the best route is the middle way, a balance between the moment-to-moment gifts of nature and the sometimes joyful dance and often frustrating struggle with human relationships. I have come to realize that relationships should never be easy or at least not all the time.  Good relationships (e.g. child, parent, teacher, lover, and friend) should challenge us to grow.  Growth should be the underlying process, such that good parents should grow with their parenting, good teachers should grow with their teaching, good bloggers should grow with their blogging.

The "Waterstick" Taoist Walking Stick

As we approach the New Year, it is customary to take stock of the outgoing year, to congratulate ourselves for our accomplishments, and resolve to work on our short comings. It is a good time to think about growth!  I will in the coming week steer my bike back onto our virtual path across Florida. I will be unveiling a “retooled” pilgrimage site page and map for my blog.  I look forward to our continuing journey into 2010 and the growth it offers!

The Taoist Walking Sticks are wall hangings I construct out of material and items I find on my nature hikes.  The examples shown included: stick, roots, feathers, deer bones, turtle bones and shell fragments, and remenants of a tattered flag.

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Pilgrimage Statistics  

Consecutive Days Riding:  79                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 80  

Today’s Mileage: 6                                              Total Trip Mileage: 667  

I don’t know what it is today but I find it difficult to do anything but simple tasks.  Ride the bike, build a fire and take a nap.  Perhaps the fact that we are only three days away from a new year, the ending of one cycle and the beginning of a new weights on me.  Perhaps like old man time I am feeling the effects of an eventful year.  Perhaps the fact that in nine days I will be sending my oldest son, a young man of eighteen, off to the military and very likely war weights on me. Perhaps the fact that I spent part of the morning speaking to a youth concerned for a friend’s life or death struggles and I could, even with all my training, offer little advice or direction.  Perhaps I need to let myself just experience, just feel, “just be” in the moment.   

As I searched on Christmas Eve for family photos I came across a piece I wrote a number of years ago.  Perhaps now is a good time to share it:  

Just Is  

The sage’s measured pace came to a halt  

He bent slowly at the waist  

Till his fingers touched the flower petals  

Softly so as to not disturb  

The blossom’s beauty  

He smiled  

And stood erect  

His eyes moved skyward  

Towards the haphazard pattern of blue sky  

Silhouetted by the dark pine branches  

Drawing a deep breath  

He moved slowly forward  

As if each step  

Was measured and noted  

Drawing of a young teen!

The young girl  

An early teen  

Stood watching the sage  

She turned towards the approaching stranger  

He bore a puzzled look and asked  

“Is that the sage I hear so much about?”  

“Yap!” The girl exclaimed with a smile.  

The stranger stared for a long moment  

As the sage’s movement stopped  

As he studied something at his feet  

Among the clutter of dried oak leaves  

Pine needles and human trash  

“What is he doing?”  

“Probably nothing!” stated the girl with a quizzical look.  

“Where is he going?”  

“Probably nowhere!” she noted.  

The sage raised his head  

As he gazed off  

At the horizon  

At the wall of trees  

And flowering azalea bushes  

“What is he like,” asked the stranger?  

The young girl looked puzzled  

And then smiled  

As if she suddenly realized  

She knew a secret  

“He just is!”  

She giggled and bolted forward  

Reaching the sage  

She circled about him with a laugh  

Took his hand and skipped  

As they continued down the path  

The stranger watched for a long moment  

Before he checked his watch  

And moved towards the parking lot  

Towards his plans, his schedules  

His responsibilities, his meaningful life!  


I hope you enjoyed todays posting, a break from the usual fare.  Tomorrow we return to the journey as we near several new pilgrimage sites!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 38                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 39

Today’s Mileage:  8                                           Total Trip Mileage: 329

stage7      As I ride the bike this morning a number of topics swirl about in my mind.  I have enjoyed our week in the Miami area. Next time I visit the area in person I’ll make a personal pilgrimage to the Holocaust site as I was struck by the images which still haunt me with their poignancy.  I am looking forward to hitting the “open road” as we head west I hope to see more gorgeous nature scenes.

     I’ve been investigating pilgrimage sites down the road.  We will swing south for a day’s ride before heading west across the northern part of the Everglades and into Big Cypress National Preserve.  Then it’s on to Naples, where we’ll visit a controversial religious site:  a religious city which some people view as the epitome of American freedom, while others view it as a sign of growing intolerance and the fragmentation of our nation’s religious fabric.  As we head up the coast toward Fort Myers we will visit two sites: an ancient Native American site and a place which is a failed tribute to the human desire to create “Paradise in the Wilderness.”

     One of my viewers asked the question, concerning yesterday’s postings, if meditating was so profound then why did I stop after seven years?  There are probably several potential postings embedded within this question.  Let me just give a brief answer for now.

      Any good habit such as exercise or diet can fall prey to changing circumstances.  In addition, there is always the danger that we can become so complacent about the positive efforts that we forget the source of these effects.  My life took on many challenges as I married, entered graduate school, moved about the country.  My meditative practice suffered as I took on the roles of Professor, therapist, and father!  However, the ability and knowledge is there, and at particularly stressful times I return to it to steady my nerves and calm my mind.  Why have I not fully reimmersed myself in the meditative practice? In a way I have, but in a different way!

     In general there are two forms of meditation.  Concentration meditation, the form recognized by most people, where the mediator sits quietly and turns inward using a mantra (sound) as a meditative device.  The goal is to quiet your mind to the point of “no thoughts.”  Transcendental Meditation is one such technique.  The second form of meditation is called Mindful Meditation, and is practiced by several branches of Buddhism.  It involves focusing on and being mindful of whatever one is doing at the moment.  Mindfulness of walking, breathing, studying a flower, the breeze on one’s skin can all be part of a walk through a garden.  It is found to promote deeper insights into how our minds work to “create” the world around us and how to control our attention and focus. 

     As my artistic interests grew over the last twenty years, especially my poetry, I found myself naturally and effortlessly using this technique.  I would state that I still meditate but in a different form.

     Here is a poem and one of my drawings, both are products of a mindful walk:


Beauty by StationaryPilgrim

Nature’s to Blame

Checked my watch

     It happened again!

Half an hour pasted,

     I barely moved.

Oh well!

          I’ll blame the flowers,

               Their beauty impeded my progress:

          And the bird call,

               The humming insects,

               The inviting cool shadows,

               And the still air.

          Don’t forget the fragrances,

               There were way too many.

If I missed something important

     Please accept my apology.


sunset and bike by oojeff

If I had a real bike and was really there!

     Enjoy your day and be mindful of your journey!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 16                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 17

Today’s Mileage: 12                                              Total Trip Mileage: 159

      As I mount the stationary bike today I am a bit sore and tired.  Besides riding yesterday I also dug up several large ferns in the woods and transplanted them into the back yard next to the river.  I then collected and burned some fallen branches.  It felt good to get my hands into the rich soil, a physical connection with the earth. Ever since I was a young child I was always fascinated with fire. I enjoyed burning the trash as I got to watch the dancing flames consuming the material, leaving what seemed to be so little ash.  I see this as recognition of the cycles of the natural world, whether it is by decomposition or fire, what was once living returns to the soil for reuse.

"Road to Town" by Stationarypilgrim.

"Road to Town" by Stationarypilgrim.


 Yesterday I spoke of doubts that were nagging at me.  Working in the soil and tending the fire helped me put them into perspective.  Another thing that can help us find balance between our doubts and the gifts that life delivers is music!  As I sat in the Doctor’s office on Friday (see yesterday’s Blog) with a growing concern for my partner’s health, the song by Miley Cyrus: It’s a Climb came over the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, I found myself lifted up and reminded that it’s not the mountain (ill health), an arbitrary timetable or finish line on the other side.  The important thing is to make this climb, together and make it a source of deeper intimacy and strength. Choices and circumstances have brought us to this point, this mountain.  We can not turn back. We’ve got to climb! 

     Every step I’m taking
     Every move I make feels
     Lost with no direction
     My faith is shaking

     But I gotta keep trying
     Gotta keep my head held high

     There’s always gonna be another mountain
     I’m always gonna wanna make it move
     Always gonna be a uphill battle
     Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

     Ain’t about how fast I get there
     Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
     It’s the climb

     Music like symbols can be a source of inspiration and lessons of wisdom. As I walked the woods digging up ferns I had to attend to obstacles like tangled brush and low hanging branches.  I was reminded of a song by Ani Difranco entitled As is.  The lyrics remind me of the need for a balanced process as we walk though life. 

     We have to look up at times to see where we are going. If we get too absorbed in the litter at our feet we are likely to miss a turn, or bang our head on a low hanging branch.  If we keep our head up focused on distance scenery, we will be thinking of what is to come. We will miss the beauty and treasures at our feet and risk getting tripped up by vines and fallen branches.  The key to walking in the woods, in life, is a balanced glance up – glance down rhythm and to keep moving.  If you need to focus on the ground at your feet for more then a moment, stop and do so!

     cuz when I look around

     I think this, this is good enough

     and I try to laugh

     at whatever life brings

     cuz when I look down

     I just miss all the good stuff

     when I look up

     I just trip over things

      As seen in DiFranco’s lyrics, she expresses healthy attitudes of acceptance and humor.  It’s amazing how quickly a song can lift our spirits, helping us to scale a mountain in a balanced manner.

      A couple of quick notes, I will soon be adding a video component to the Pilgrimage Site visits.  In addition, I’ll be retooling the “look” of the Blog to better reflect the scenery.  Watch for these changes.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 15                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 16

Today’s Mileage: 10                                              Total Trip Mileage: 147

     As I climb on the bike this morning and begin the wheel spinning I realize that while I met a milestone yesterday with two weeks of riding, today I find myself dealing with a dizzying swirl of doubts and concerns.  As so often happens, doubts gang up on you and come at you from every direction and source.  They often attack multiple levels of your beliefs and goals. What are these doubts?

seaside window by Pat Edwards

     On the Material Equipment level:  No my bike did not break down!  However, yesterday first my laptop and then my desk top crashed.  When you are on a virtual journey this cuts your lifeline and leave you hoping for a Geek Squad roadside assistance truck.  I was able to get the desktop back on line for now, however, the laptop contained most of my blogging materials.  I have set out a couple of flares and assistance is on the way!   I’ve been here before and simple remind myself that just when you think technology and computers are your friends: they will turn on you!

     On the Physical Body level: No I haven’t blown a tire/muscle!  In fact, my body has grown accustomed to the exercise. I look forward to the tight tired muscle feeling that comes after the ride. These doubts have to do with the fact that no matter how hard we try our body still wears out and breaks down.  Yesterday morning I sat in a doctor’s office with my partner as she waited to meet with the physician who would be performing her surgery. The surgery is not life threatening, but might be disfiguring.  This presented me with a vivid reminder that there is precious little we can do to help people in this situation!  I undertook the stationary rider aspect of this journey to help extend the warranty on my vehicle (bring down the high blood pressure).  I will be here for her with a firm embrace and a compassionate ear, that’s all I can do!

     On the Motivational level: No I’m not questioning the purpose and goal of this journey!  I am still creating a process for finding and choosing Pilgrimage Sites.  I am still working on finding a balance between the Personal and Spiritual aspects of the journey.  They may be more of the same thing rather then different paths.  Both questions create a level of tension.

 The artist 

To capture a feeling, and image, a precept,

   and then transform it

      is the artist’s greatest joy!

To capture a feeling, an image, a precept,

   with its essence unchanged

      is the artist’s greatest challenge!


   People often ask why I no longer have a therapy practice and instead teach full time.  This is a valid question as many of my fellow graduate students who started off in academia were drawn away to fulltime clinical work both for the money and the satisfactions of one-on-one therapy.  Teaching brings me a great deal of satisfaction, but it can leave me wondering at times if I’ve had a lasting impact on my students’ lives and ultimately upon their success and happiness.

     I teach because I envision myself planting seeds that will sprout and bear fruit in the students’ lives long after they have left the University. Part of the reason I have taken to the Blogosphere is out of the hope that the seeds I am sowing will fall on fertile ground and reach a great number of people.

past sugarloaf by daniel graf


A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scene from along the roadside. Today’s images also from the the stationarypilgrim early drawings.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 12                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 13

Today’s Mileage:  6                                             Total Trip Mileage: 123


     I hope everyone got a chance to visit our first Pilgrimage site (click on tab at the top of the page if you did not).  As I mount the stationary bike for today’s ride I have decided to ride further up the coast before we leave the Keys and head inland.  I believe there is nothing wrong with lingering over a meaningful experience.  We will of course get the opportunity to visit other coast lines in the future and other pilgrimage sites.  But the first is important as it often sets the expectations for future visits.

     I have dried out from the underwater leg of yesterday’s journey!  My progress was slowed by the beautiful coral formations, and by the CAUTION FISH SCHOOL CROSSING signs! One of the benefits of a virtual trip is you don’t need expensive lessons and equipment to make it to the hard to get too places.  I won’t be surprised to see us “take to the air” on future site visits!

     I left my fellow travelers with three questions yesterday.  I want to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on each.  But first a disclaimer: In no way do I assume that my views hold more authority or truth than any other visitor’s to this site.  These are my views and are shared with joy, as a gift, feel free to disagree with these views.  Feel free to share your own!

Beauty at your feet.   

With respect to the question about the significance of nature, any of you who have followed this Blog will know I find a great deal of meaning in my relationship with nature. It offers me beautiful and powerful images and experiences, which I in turn cherish and honor with poems, musings and artistic images.  I will at times speak of nature the way others may speak of a deity. Nature also presents me with mysteries, dangerous situations, and challenges, much like a deity may for some people!  Nature’s most precious gifts for me has been the Nature Mystical Experiences.  I know some people experience the gifts of nature as blessings from a higher power.  I experience nature as a higher power!

     The second question asked about the significance of the Christ figure as a shrine. The use of Christ versus some other religious figure (Buddha, or Krishna) is easily understood as Christianity represents the predominate form of religious thought in Italy, where the statue originated, and in the US.  I believe many people like to be reminded of and remind others of our relationship with the divine, this accounts for the popularity of road side crosses across much of the southeastern US. So this placement represents a public display of worship and faith.  I also equate Christ’s posture, open arms and head turned skyward, as offers of comfort to anyone who might be in danger of “slipping below the surface,” anyone who might be in need of rescue.  This posture, especially on land, could be seen as a plea to the “Heavenly Father” for mercy or help for those unfortunate individuals in need.

Stain Glass Window - Amaryliss    

   The third question concerned the possible significance of the placement of the shrine, miles off shore and under many feet of water.  I believe this highlights an important aspect of many pilgrimages: they are in not easily accessible places.  Of course in the modern world with air conditioned buses, planes, 4 wheel drive vehicles and GPS devices, the challenging and often daunting travel aspects of a pilgrimage have in many cases been turned into a detour or a tourist ride. 

     Given that the work of the pilgrimage journey was the struggle with roadblocks to be overcome, both external ones like deserts, mountains and raging rivers, and internal ones like doubts, misgivings and a loss of faith in the journey,  one can argue roadside pilgrimages have robbed these journeys of real meaning. The irony of this statement is not lost on me, as I have taken on the task of leading myself and others on virtual pilgrimages where you don’t have to leave the safety of your home, office or even your bed. 

     This is where my pragmatic nature rises to the surface as I would argue that many of us have demands that can not be set aside to roam the world.  As such I believe we should journey in whatever way we can, accepting the physical challenges have been removed, or replaced by a stationary bike ride. We should confront any and all internal/mental roadblocks we encounter.  As a therapist I can tell you the most frightening and daunting hurtles most people face in their journey towards happiness, adjustment and maturity are in fact mental.  Whether that be overcoming past trauma, facing one’s fears, letting go of negative feelings, or risking to care and love others.

     So I believe that the Christ in the Deep site represents in some ways a return to the pilgrimages of old where they are more out of the way and presented the determined pilgrim with a physical challenge.  Of course the cynical among us might argue that its placement was more of a business decision to promote the glass boat and scuba diving tourist industry. 

 Todays artwork included two of my own works.  Entitled: “Beauty at your feet” and “Stain Glass Window – Amaryliss.”

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