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Posts Tagged ‘ritual’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  74                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 75

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 640

We are such ritual creatures, or at least I’m speaking for myself.  I love my morning coffee, like a Zen monk cherishes his “tea ritual.”  I savor the warmth of the cup, the aromatic steam rising above the rim, and the pungent favor of the first sip. Even before the caffeine has a chance to enter my system I already feel the invigorating effects of the ritual.  What has also become a common component of my routine is for Susan to ask me: “So what are you going to blog about today?”  I sometimes feel that she is asking in the hope that I will report it is already done, “in the can” as they use to say when making movies. My most common response is: “don’t know yet!” 

Andy Goldsworthy's Maple Leaves Arrangement

Andy Goldsworthy's Ice Spiral

I would like to feel that I have joined a very prestigious circle of artists, poets and writers, who simply open themselves to the creative process and watch with amazement as the gifts- the ideas, images, words, topics- stream pass  like a smorgasbord. I am reminded of a scene from a documentary called, Rivers and Tides: Working with Time, which chronicled one day in the life of Scottish Land Artist Andy Goldsworthy.  He creates wonderful images using natural materials he finds on his walks along the Scottish countryside and streams.  In one scene he prepares to leave the house when his wife asks: “What are you working on today?”  He responds that he doesn’t know!  He never does. He lets the gifts he finds in nature such as dandelion blossoms, sticks and stones, colorful leafs and icicles guide the process of creating his artwork. You might label these as gifts from the creative muse, or from nature, or from the divine.  To me it doesn’t matter where they come from, what matters is how you honor these gifts and what you do with them!  I am blessed to benefit from this same process of receiving gifts, whether the medium I am working with is artistic images, poetic words, or blog topics.

“For me looking, touching, material, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. Place is found by walking, direction determined by weather and season. I take the opportunity each day offers: if it is snowing, I work in snow, at leaf-fall it will be leaves; a blown over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches.” Andy Goldsworthy

Yesterday I challenged Dr. Krauthammer, the nationally syndicated political columnist to exercise self-reflection more than once every 25 years. I have decided to hold up the mirror of self-reflection on myself today, in particular on the source of my blog topics.  After a mental review of the 75 blogs I have so far produced, I propose to place them into four groups based on the source that stimulated their creation.  You could even call this the beginnings of a Mandala of my Pilgrimage Journey.  A Mandala is a visual meditative and teaching devise used in many of the eastern faiths.  Its basic structure is a circle divided into four quadrants. But more about that in a future blog!

Andy Goldsworthy's Stone Creation

The first group would include those blogs stimulated by the images I retrieve off the internet, representing what we would see if we were actually riding our journey’s  meandering route.  We started in Key West and today we ride near Tampa Florida.  These images included wildlife, nature scenes and incredible beach sunsets.  The second group includes ideas cued from news reports of current local and world events.  Sometimes they have a clear spiritual significance, like the changes in Americans religious beliefs and practices, other times it might be a tragic event that calls for our prayers. The third group is comprised of topics stimulated by comments from friends, students, and visitors to my blog as well as well as memories of my childhood.  Several of my recent blogs including the Christmas Branch story fits into this group. The fourth group would include my reactions to the specific pilgrimage sites we visit on our journey.  I carry the images of the Holocaust Memorial of Miami with me every day.  I flash back to these  whenever I see or hear of suffering in my immediate circle of friends, or of strangers in my community, across the nation or in the world.

I am blessed to receive many gifts on a daily basis, not the least of which are these sources of inspiration.  A friend recently asked me: “Why do you do this?”  I’m not sure if they meant why do I blog, or why do I reach out to others as a therapist, teacher, parent and friend.

Andy Goldsworthy's Cracked Rock Spiral

In a simple way I desire to have an effect on the world. I hope to leave the world a better place than I found it.  I hope to add my little ripple, my passions for peace and connectedness to the fabric of life.  I desire to add my ripple to the ripples of others creating a wider circle, a larger wave, a force for positive change.  Perhaps we will ultimately dash ourselves against the impenetrable stone fortress of anger, hatred, bigotry, despair and diverseness.  None of us know what the future holds!  But at least we will have tried and I will have left a model for my sons and students of involvement in fighting the good fight and of caring enough to try.

To view more of Andy Goldsworthy’s work and read about his philosophy please visit: http://www.rwc.uc.edu/artcomm/web/w2005_2006/maria_Goldsworthy/TEST/index.html.  Have a wonderful day, stay warm!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 23                                Consecutive Days Blogging: 24

Today’s Mileage: 10                                               Total Trip Mileage: 228

stage5

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.

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     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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