Posts Tagged ‘everglades’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 24                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 25

Today’s Mileage: 10                                           Total Trip Mileage: 238


Holidays and Holy Days on November 2nd:

All Souls’ Day – Catholic Christian day of prayers of remembrance and intercession for the dead. Prayers of the faithful are seen as helping to cleanse the souls for the beatific vision of God in heaven.

Guru Nanak Dev Sahib birthday – Sikh honoring of the birth of the first Sikh teacher who lived from 1469 -1539 c.e. Sacred readings, prayers, hymns, meals together.


dawn in everglades by juanka05

Dawn over the Everglades.

    As I ride the bike today I am confronted with the question: How does one convey the sacredness of a place that does not include a shrine or object associated with a recognized wisdom tradition?  Is shear physical size, natural beauty or biodiversity enough?

 alligators by leocisneros 

ospreythumb by rodney cammauf nps


 Jennifer Westwood in her book Sacred Journeys notes that pilgrimage sites may be “places of great natural grandeur.”  This choice can be made for three different reasons.  First, it might be an acknowledgement of the masterwork of the Creator, thereby representing a gift.  Secondly, these places may be seen as the dwelling place of God or spirits.  Lastly, such sites may induce within the viewer a sense of awe and mystery leading to a powerful connectedness with nature (nature mysticism), which is experienced as a gift.

greatblueheronthumb by rodney cammauf nps

Great Blue Heron

 The Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, boasts a large range of  rare and endangered plant and animal species. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, highlighting and establishing it’s significance to all people of the world.

     While the park’s beauty and diversity is a product of nature, how did the park come into being?  The harmful side effects of dredging and draining were apparent on the landscape of southern Florida early in the last century. In 1928 landscape architect Ernest Coe began a concentrated effort to designate a “Tropical Everglades National Park.”


     His persistence paid off when he and others persuaded Congress to designate the Everglades as a national park in 1934.  In 1947, Marjory Stoneman Douglas published The Everglades: River of Grass, a work that greatly influence the public perception of this region.  That same year, Everglades National Park officially opened, marking the first large-scale attempt to protect the area’s unique biology.

pantherthumb by rodney cammauf nps

Panther on the prowl.

 Rather then share my views on the site any further I will let the beauty of the wildlife and scenery plus the words of a Floridian poet speak!

pelican by rodney cammauf nps

Brown Pelican.

Nothing out there by Betsy Bolger-PauletNothing whatever is going on,
    except the cicadas
    except bird voices
    except breeze in the pines
    and the long-missed sound
        of my breath, my heart,
        and my voice singing to myself.

There is nothing at all to see
    except sky and clouds
    except butterflies and wildflowers
    except tracks of deer and ‘coon by the pond
    and scenes from long-lost memory:
        visions of plans and hopes,
        and my rippled reflection among reeds.

There is absolutely nothing to do
    once the tent is pitched
    once the firewood is gathered
    once the water is carried
    but walk without destination in green places
        and stand perfectly still
        and listen and look at nothing.


 white bird by dayra uzeta

Evening in the Piney Woods by Betsy Bolger-Paulet

Long light at the end of the day
stretching between the pines
tinting the cloudless Western sky
and reaching tender rosy arms around the whole horizon.
The colors are like an old-fashioned ring,
in three shades of gold: yellow, white, and pink.

Luminous blue above is like painting on eggshell-thin china.
Chuck-will’s-widow calls, and summer’s last cicadas choir, 
and I’m suspended like a prehistoric insect 
in this amber light.
I lose the will to speak or move
owning only the still senses:
vision, hearing, the smell of the wet green land.

At this instant, I could be anywhere in time,
and if I could hold onto it
through the rising and setting
of our cozy local moon,
until the stars stitch bright needles 
through the black satin night,
I would find myself in casual conversation
with a soul on the far side of infinity.

flower by franco tobias

Beauty at your feet.

royal palm sunset

A final Everglades sunset!

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. Thanks to the national park service photographer Rodney Cammaulf  for many of the beautiful wildlife shots. For further information, including virtual tours of the everglades visit nps.gov/ever. Also a special thanks to Betsy Bolger-Paulet for the poems you can learn more about her work at http://www.floridasongstory.com.  The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 23                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 24

Today’s Mileage: 10                                               Total Trip Mileage: 228


Holidays and Holy Days on November 1st:

All Saints Day – Christian day for honoring saints, known and unknown. In general, saints are persons with reputation for unusual lives of holiness and devotion to God or who were martyred for their faith. A Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church where saints have special formal status.

Samhain – Wicca celebration of endings and beginnings and of remembering the dead.. Revering of elders is also observed.


     As I climb on the stationary bike this morning I realize that we have only two days left in the Everglades National Park before we head up the coast to the Miami area. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Sacredness of this site as well as “all of God’s creatures” which inhabit it!

nine mile pond by donald see

Nine Mile Pond in the Everglades

    Part of me is sad that we will be leave behind the panoramic scenes of nature, often undisturbed by little more than a road. However, I know many unknown scenes of beauty lie ahead of us, both natural as well as manmade! There are several different religious sites we will visit in the Miami area, representing a very wide range of spiritual traditions. The next several weeks should be interesting, luckily on my virtual ride I don’t have to worry about the traffic or “making the lights!”

white mangroves by maryknapp

Stand of white mangroves

     You no doubt noticed the holiday and holy days heading at the top of this posting. I have decided to start noting all religious celebrations falling on the day of the posting. Since pilgrimages can be associated with certain holy days it is meant to give the readers a wider perspective on the world wisdom traditions. I remember talking with a student once about comparative religious studies. He noted that he knew about other faiths, as he had taken a class that compared Christianity to Judaism!

everglades by jorg behmann

Everglades grasslands

     When I teach the Psychology of Religion, I review all of the major world wisdom traditions, their beliefs and rituals. Spiritual beliefs are like clothing. We often become very comfortable with “our favorite outfit or style,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t become familiar with the outfits and costumes of others. I believe we share a large, but shrinking world, where we have to interact with people who are different from ourselves. It helps if we have an understanding of their world view and values. If we open ourselves up to their views, we may in fact come to not only appreciate them, but to actually celebrate them!

pinelands by nationalparklover

Everglade pinelands

    I am a pluralist. I do not struggle to discover which of the many wisdom traditions holds The Truth. I see them all, as long as they are “life affirming”: Loving, Compassionate, Foster Connections with others, as holding truth. They are by no means similar. They represent very different paths, with respect to beliefs and rituals. However, they can and do all lead to the mountain peak, a relationship with the divine. I believe the critical question is NOT which path holds truth, but which path holds the truth that fits for me , for my personality, my experiences, and my struggles.

     My partner Susan reminds me that I don’t need to preach to people about my beliefs. That is not my intention, I am certain in what I believe and have experienced, but I am humble because I know that these beliefs and experiences do not fit for anyone else. I raise these points out of a concern for tolerance, civility, and acceptance as all people of the planet face a multitude of shared problems. Unless you believe that all of the problems will miraculously disappear, the solutions will require a coming together of all cultures, religions, and races!

sunset by danhester

Lone sentinal at sunset!

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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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 22                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 23

Today’s Mileage: 10                                          Total Trip Mileage: 218


    As  promised, today I will introduce a new feature to the Blog site, my Pilgrim’sPrayer Flag.   In an earlier Blog I noted that prayer is an important part of the Longing which motivates us to start a pilgrimage.  We often carry prayers for ourselves, for others, or for larger causes (world peace) with us as we journey to sacred sites, places where we converse with and/or experience the divine. Prayer is an important ritualistic aspect in all of the major world wisdom traditions.  While the exact form of the prayer rituals will vary greatly from tradition to tradition, and even within traditions, they all represent an interaction, on some level, with the divine. 

christian point trail by Kewinkle Tetro Ta

Christian Point Trail

  In my Psychology of Religion class, I teach that prayers can be divided into two general groups: Petitionary Prayers that make a request of the divine for some individual or group cause (health, wealth, happiness, victory) and Praise Prayers which express thanks, gratitude and recognition of greatness and power. The website www.worldprayers.org  uses a system that has four categories of prayer.  These include: Adorations – prayers of devotion, surrender, love, praise and offering; Invocations – prayers of petition, supplication, calling forth and healing; Celebrations – prayers of thanksgiving, initiation, affirmation and blessing; and Meditations – prayers of reflection, contemplation, being and teaching.

bird by namealex

Majestic Viewer

One does not have to look very hard to recognize the importance of prayer.  I conducted a Google search on prayer and received over 37 million sites.  Limiting the search to prayer requests narrowed it to just 2.5 million sites! 

blue lake by gilles56

Blue Lake in the Everglades



Darchor style prayer flags on a vertical pole in northern India.

Back to my Pilgrim’sPrayerFlag. Prayer Flags are a colorful are highly visible component of Tibetian Buddhism.  They are often transported by pilgrims to sacred sites and were used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.  Traditionally these prayers were not prayers to “gods” but were meant to wave in the winds and spread goodwill and compassion to all.  There were two types: Lung ta – colorful squares printed with woodblocks strung in a horizonal fashion; and Darchor – verticle streamers meant to increase life, fortune, health and wealth of all sentient beings. For purposes of my Blog and pilgrimage, I am going to embrace the Darchor physical style (see the streaming banner attached to the staff on my pilgrim symbol) but open it  to all four forms of prayer.  I will carry the prayerflag with me and retire it on a weekly basis, replacing it with a new clean virtual banner.  Please click on the tab at the top of this page to leave a prayer or review the prayers shared by others.


 I have included photos from our route through the Everglades.  In one of my upcoming Blogs we will “contemplate” this beautiful expanse of grass, swamp and waterways as a pilgrimage site.   

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  20                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 21

Today’s Mileage: 5                                           Total Trip Mileage: 197


On the road again... or at least on the map!

     You will notice that our map is back!  As I mentioned in yesterday’s Blog I had climbed on the bike for the last five days and just rode where the road took me.  By my calculations we travelled 60 miles and hit the “end of the road” at Lake Ingraham on the far western edge of the Everglades National Park!  So for the next several days we will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature in one of our National Parks as we ride back toward the populated East Coast of Florida.

east cape by roneway

Water flowing into the eastern gulf from the evergalades.

  What’s with the title of today’s Blog?  I have been collecting any material I can find on Pilgrimages, the location of sites and the process of the journey. For the next several days I want to share with you some of the thoughts of Jennifer Westwood who authored a book entitled: Sacred Journeys: An Illustrated Guide to Pilgrimages Around the World

     She describes various stages that a Pilgrim goes through in the process of a Pilgrimage Journey.  The first of these is termed: The Longing. I remember reading a newspaper account some years ago of the “Kumbha Mela,” a sacred pilgrimage in India that takes place once every twelve years, it was reported that over 90 Million people were expected to visit the sacred river Ganges within the seven day festival!  Westwood notes that for the massive numbers of individuals who undertake such journeys, and we find them in all faiths, are driven by an inborn yearning for an encounter with the divine.  She notes that “this yearning is compounded by the desire to reverence a deity in its own special place and the hope of persuading it to pay heed to individual prayer.”

     Westwood believes that “we are from the moment we are born to the moment we die, engaged in a search for meaning.  Pilgrimage to a special place, where the divine pierces through the mundane, holds out the promise of help and comfort in this world, and of a living encounter with deity.” So The Place or Site of the pilgrimage is important, but once again may represent a multitude of different experiences.  This place may exist in the natural world or only in the heart of the pilgrim; it may represent a place build for religious purposes (temple) or a place of natural beauty.  It may have a long history, or be a place known to few.  Westwood notes: “The place is part of the desire.”

american crocodile

Dangers off the path!

   Pilgrimages often dramatize our journeys through life. We often undertake them out of a sense of need for something we have lost or seek to achieve. Westwood calls this The Prayer, and notes “there is seemingly no limit to the range of desires of the human heart laid bare before deity.” These include a desire for health, for wealth, for protection from harm, for guidance, and to forgive their sins.  Sometimes a pilgrim’s prayers evoke empathy in others, while some present us with paradoxical conflict.  Like the narcotraficantes of Mexico who are generous at their shrine asking for blessings of their cocaine harvest and bullets!

     Westwood notes that “many seekers see their attempt to find an ideal to live by (something to give their life meaning) in terms of a Journey.”  Some join the pilgrimages of the world religions to experience community, a spiritual solidarity.  Others devise their own sacred journeys, including journeys of remembrance (to distant graves of loved ones).  Anthropologist Alan Morinis wrote that the term “pilgrimage” can be put to use “wherever journeying and some embodiment of the ideal intersect!” This means that all of the diverse strands of pilgrimage displayed around the world and throughout time give us something to work with when seeking for the focus and intent of our own journey.  I will leave you today with the closing paragraph from Westwood’s section on longing”

 “Essentially all pilgrims are seeking to access, by way of a significant site, a spiritual reservoir charged in the past and constantly refilled.  For the pilgrim not only takes but gives, drawing spiritual sustenance and at the same time by an act of faith in the place of pilgrimage replenishing the never-failing spring.  To be a pilgrim is not to perform an individual act of devotion, but to engage in humankind’s dialogue with the divine: not in time, but eternity.”


 A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. 

beach sunset by jsowers

Gift at the end of the day!

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