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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  166                              Cumulative Days Blogging: 151

Today’s Mileage: 4                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 1116

Struggling with Change?

As I ride the bike this evening I think back to a long lunch discussion I had with a friend earlier today.  I was trying to explain to her the nature of the “confused and unsettled state” I have struggled with for the last half dozen days.  As often happens in long discussions with this friend, statements elicit questions and answers are punctuated by requests for further clarification!  It is a process that some people might see as circular and a “waste of time,” however it helps me to refine my thinking on important topics. 

I would like to briefly share with you the primary issues I have been mulling over as I “went silent” for the better part of a week.  As we ride westward across northern Florida in the coming days, I will explore these issues in more detail and explain how they are related to my spirituality and connectedness. 

Agreement is not mandatory either!

Before I present the basic issues I would like to note that Psychologists have long recognized that the label “stressful” is not reserved for only negative events, but fit for any event that signifies/represents a change in one’s life!  While negative events (e.g., a death, job loss, divorce) can be devastating, positive events (e.g., graduation, marriage, a new job) are also disruptive to well established life patterns and routines.  My friend asked me if I was worried about “making it through” this period of stress? 

I answered with a resounding NO!  Research has shown that even winning the lottery can and is stressful (i.e., the demands  associated with managing large amounts of cash), however the factor that best predicts a person’s long term happiness with their “good fortunes”  is the degree of happiness the y experience before their winnings.  In other words… happiness before the disruption best predicts adjustment to the disruption!  Since I have been in a “joyful” mood for some time I have no doubt I will come through this stronger.

Here are the issues:

1)    I have experienced an acute awareness of the numerous issues fueling conflict within our communities, nation and world.  This awareness has been greatly heightened by the process of searching for blog topics and pilgrimage sites.  Not an unexpected occurrence, but the poignancy of this process has been surprising.

2)    I have experienced transitory feelings of helplessness and hopelessness associated with the above mentioned awareness.  I am an optimist; however the number and deep seated nature of the difficulties we face represent an extremely daunting task especially as it sometimes seems that our options grow more limited by the day!

3)    I am experiencing a desire for renewal and/or change with respect to my academic career.  I am celebrating my 25th anniversary as a University Professor!  I love teaching and interacting with the students, I don’t savor all of the superficial demands that go along with the job and the 2 ½ hour a day commute is grueling.  In addition, my creative endeavors and interests have always taken a back seat to my academic career (bringing home a pay check).  I feel that it may be time to give my creativity a chance to shine.  A spirit confined can at best only stretch its wings, it can’t soar!

4)    I am struggling with a sense of parental sadness as I try to let go of my dreams for my eldest son, while at the same time savoring the memories.  This is coupled with a sense of fear for the choices he has made: dropping out of school, joining the Army, and the fact that he will likely go to war as an explosive expert (e.g., his job will be the same as the character on “the Hurt Locker”).

5)    I look forward with deep joy to my upcoming marriage.  I have found someone who does not merely tolerate who I am (my liberal beliefs, my Eastern Spirituality, my creativity, my jokes) but celebrates my strengths as gifts and forgives my weaknesses!  Still, merging lives, schedules, and families involves an ongoing process of finding balance… a joyful, but still stressful task!

Well, that is it in a nut shell.  I left out any reference to my spiritual journey, however, all of these points are impacted by my search for and review of pilgrimage sites.  I will speak to this impact in future blog postings.  Have a wonderful day!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 34                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 35

Today’s Mileage:  5                                           Total Trip Mileage: 304

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Holidays and Holy Days on November 12:

Birth of Baha’u’llah –  Baha’i celebration of the birth of their founder and teacher

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      As I ride the bike today I am thinking about the nature of pilgrimage sites.   I’ll let you decide whether you believe today’s site warrants inclusion on the list of Pilgrimage Sites as we are visiting an interesting place in North Miami Beach which is now a beautiful and popular place for weddings and receptions. I found a travel review which stated: “The story behind this place is more interesting than going there.”   While I have labeled it as a “Christian” site, it might be better to think of it as a Marriage Remembrance Site!  I believe this site; The Spanish Monastery has importance and significance.  

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View of the courtyard.

   First, I think it reiterates that for some pilgrimages it’s not the site that has significance, but the journey required to arrive at the site.  Like the Miley Cyrus song stated: “It’s the climb.”  I remind myself of this when I find the flower garden bare or the creek dry after a long walk. I have written a number of poems and viewed beautiful images I would not have seen if I hadn’t taken that walk/journey.

     Second, the story of how this Spanish Monastery which predates Columbus’ arrival in the New World found its way to the shores of a “distant land” is fascinating!  It might be seen as a story of a “rescue” of a decaying work of architectural art, a grand but misguided business endeavor, or the appropriation of the relics of another time and place for our use in the present. 

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Christ in the Garden.

  I believe our American culture and to a degree historically Western culture has a tendency to buy treasures, or claim sites that produce a readymade “history.”  Is it our impatience to wait for our own relics and sites to develop? Or do we have a sense of entitlement towards the treasures of old, or any site that we discover, whether or not it might already have special significance to others?  I am reminded of the early Christian colonists declaring they were “God’s chosen” and the New World their “promised land”.  Of course that meant that the native inhabitants were, at best, potential converts, or at worst “Canaanites” who warrant only removal and destruction.

     An additional issue this visit raises for me has to do with discovering the “true meaning” of a site or a journey. If you Google wedding reception sites in the Miami area, you will find this historic monastery listed.  Is that a “good use” of the space, or an affront to the building’s “true meaning?”  It was built for a sacred purpose, consecrated with sacred rituals, and inhabited for centuries by dedicated spiritual seekers.  How does the current use enhance or undermine this history? Does it matter? 

     When I first investigated this site I found videos about it on YouTube.  The first I viewed showed a young lady quietly lighting votive candles at the entrance to the sanctuary.  The second video showed a boisterous, youthful wedding party dancing wildly to the Village People anthem YMCA!

     Please click on the tab at the top of this page entitled: Pilgrimage Sites to visit the Spanish Monastery.  Have a wonderful day!

The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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