Posts Tagged ‘religion and american culture’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 133                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 115

Today’s Mileage:  10                                             Total Trip Mileage: 938

On a sand pilgrimage!

 I am writing today’s blog as I sit in the lobby of the Carroll McDaniel Petrie School of Music.  My partner Susan is giving a faculty recital in a short time and I figured I might as well do something useful and stay out of the way.

Today we are going to ride through the Canaveral National Seashore just up the coast from the Kennedy Space Center.  I have included it on my list of Pilgrimage and Retreat sites as a Nature Site and a Historical Site.   A Nature Site is described as a location where nature’s beauty may leads to an experience of wonder and awe and a sense of connectedness with that which is greater than us all, the divine.  I reserve this distinction for locations like National Parks. 

Situated on a barrier island the Canaveral National Seashore features 24 miles of pristine, undeveloped beach and dunes.  The Atlantic Ocean pounds the eastern shore, while to the west is Mosquito Lagoon.  The Site includes historical buildings and a Historical Interpretive Park highlighting the history of the local Native Americans and the early encounters among the natives and European explorers.  In addition to the beautiful beach and stunning sunrises the area is home to abundant wildlife. 

Sacred Sands!

The title for today’s blog was taken from an article by Lynn Ross-Bryant in the Journal Religion and American Culture. The author makes the argument that the U.S. National Parks have played a central role in the unifying discourse of America since their inception after the Civil War.  She argues that the parks were able to serve this role because of the close alliance between nature and nation.  Nature “set apart” in the parks becomes the embodiment of an archetypal America, which was the ever-pristine source of greatness of the nation and people.  As such she argues that the parks serve as a sacred site and a unifying symbol of US culture.  She believes that by approaching the parks as pilgrimage sites, you can examine the American values that are embodied in them.

**** Time for the recital to begin****

I now sit in reflection, memories of sweet notes swirl about me like embers dancing about a blazing fire. As I listened to Susan sing I was particularly drawn to the words of one song entitled: Sweet Chance That Lead My Steps Abroad.  They read:

Sweet chance that lead my steps abroad

beyond the town where wild flowers grow.

A rainbow and a cuckoo,

Lord, how rich and great the times are now!

Know all ye sheep and cows

that keep staring that I stand so long

in grass that’s wet from heavy rain,

A rainbow and a cuckoo’s song

may never come together again,

may never come this side the tomb.

A rainbow and a cuckoo’s song

may never come together again.

These lyrics remind us that we can get lost in intellectual discussions about the symbolic meaning of national parks and nature, or we can get lost in the experience of nature.  The choice is ours, the experience of nature is usually only steps way!


Sacred light from the east!

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