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Posts Tagged ‘yin and yang’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Days Riding: 142                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 126

Today’s Mileage: 0                                          Total Trip Mileage: 996

Leaving prayers at the center!

Greetings everyone!  I am writing today’s blog from atop Little Scaly Mountain near Highlands North Carolina.  I am acting as a chaperone for a group of church teens who are attending a Youth Conference at the Mountain Retreat and Learning Center.

I had intended to blog on a Pilgrimage site in Daytona Beach yesterday, but sometimes life’s demands conspire against us.  Meetings and preparation for this trip occupied my day and my chaperone duties occupied the entire evening.  In addition, there is something about cold fresh mountain air that draws me into a state of deep sleep.

 Mountain Dining Hall Banner: “To embrace the diversity of life, creating an environment to energize people to work for positive change.”

“The Mountain” as we Unitarian Universalists of the South Eastern US call our church affiliated retreat center is literally housed on the top of a mountain in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain range.  From the fire tower at night you can see lights from South Carolina and Georgia

Mountain Dining Hall Plaque: “We drink from wells we did not dig.  We are warmed by fires we did not build.”

I just left the “morning gathering” where the 100+ High School aged teens sang songs and prepared for a series of workshops that will occupy much of their day.  I retreated to the “library” where the energy and noise levels are more conducive to my writing today’s blog.

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Energizing for Generations to come”

Meditation Rock!

I am one of those people where the solitude and serenity of nature is a powerful influence on my spirituality.  Nothing relaxes and inspires me like a walk through nature.  The Mountain has been a special place of spiritual renewal for me since I first discovered it, on a church retreat, some sixteen years ago.  I have acted as my church’s ambassador to the Mountain, given workshop and presentations for group retreats, accompanied church youth here for conferences, and most often just “dropped in” and stayed to hike, meditated, relax and create. The center is open to individual and groups of any faith or secular group.  The mountain embraces diversity and promotes positive and just social change.

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Living Simply and Sustainably”

The Mountain has been a place I have come to: let go of painful relationships, write poetry, find inspirational images for my artwork, sort out my life goals, relax while visiting various waterfalls, walking the surrounding mountains and the labyrinth and reconnecting with nature.  One of my favorite stories was the time I visited during the winter.  I arrived and the staff announced that they were all going away for three day.  They left food in the Dining Hall fridge for me to eat.  I spent two days and three nights alone on the mountain top.  The serenity and sense of solitude, especially at night, as the wind blew and ice crystals danced in the noon light was profound.  I ended up discovering that I was not entirely alone, as I found rabbit tracks in the fresh snow!

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Embracing Diversity”

The Labyrinth at the base of the mountain contains an alter stone at its center where people leave offerings and mementos.  Among the items are two stones, one bears a painted yin-yang symbol the other the sacred Hindu symbol “Om.”  On the bottom of each stone is the name of my sons. I have carried them with me in my thoughts and prayers as I walked this sacred path.  I left each stone there that they might draw strength and serenity from these sacred mountains.

Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Being Just”

Before I leave today’s blog, it is nearing lunch time and I must rejoin my teens, I wanted to share with you a piece from the book: “Everyday Tao” by Deng Ming-Dao.  He writes about the mountains by saying:  “The ancient teachers took their students to the mountains, so that they could find inspiration in the high, sweeping vistas.  Each of them could take pleasure in the fresh air scented with pine and herbs.  None of them could fail to clear the mind of the toil and considerations of daily life.  From ancient times to the present, the mountains have been the best places to learn about Tao.  In the isolation of the mountains, with the voices of the throng stilled, the whispers of Tao could finally be heard.  This is what the ancients called the mountain spirit.”

Sunrise from the Fire Tower!

I am breathing in and relishing that mountain spirit.  I feel its presence refreshing and recharging my own spirit.  But it is now time that return to “the throng” with its infectious teen energy and youthful joy.  It is all part of the yin-yang dance of life!  Have a wonderful day!  I will return to our virtual journey and Daytona Beach tomorrow.

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!  For more information about the Mountain visit: http://www.mountaincenters.org

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 46                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 47

 

Today’s Mileage:  11                                        Total Trip Mileage: 397

Holidays and Holy Days on November 25:

Beginning of HajjIslamic pilgrimage rites at Mecca. One of the five pillars of Islamic  faith states that all Muslims should try to make at least one Hajj pilgrimage during their lifetime.

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Danger or the Divine?

As I ride the bike today I think back over my last few postings. They’ve been positive and upbeat. I’ve stood in admiration of the beauty along my path, the healing power of water, the treasures and memories we find as we walk along our daily beach.  I am clearly an optimistic person.  I turn terrible storms into nature mystical experiences, I see in the leaf clutter and bare trees of fall the renewing cycles of life knowing that what follows will be winter’s blankets and then spring time with bursts of color and new life.  I make a choice to be an optimist, to find hope in the process of death and decay, in the pain and suffering of family, friends and strangers.  I make a choice to see in these difficult and tragic situations, not roadblocks but challenges and hurdles that can be overcome, that can lead to growth.

I have at times plodded along only to look up and see an imposing peak in my way. Why does it have to be so difficult, I ask?  I’ve learned not to give up, not to swear at the peak in anger but to take a deep breath and start the climb. Attending to my footing, I glance up often enough to recognize the less treacherous way. I will make it to that peak, tired but stronger with a new perspective.  I choose to leave markers at points on the path (artwork, poems, and Blog postings) for other travelers.  These markers might provide encouragement for others on the path. At times I might even toss out a rope or reach down with an out stretched hand to help others take those last few steps. We might share a sip of water, a hug or a meal before we part again, each on a personal journey, holding the other in our prayers. These travelers may be a stranger in a chance encounter at a book store or church, a student who is part of your life for a semester, a client you helped through a difficult time, or a faceless visitor to your blog who leaves no comment but carries away seeds to plant on their journey.

A lonely journey at times!

But I digress; being an optimist is not an easy choice!  It’s not easy to find a silver lining in a story about a five year old murdered rape victim sold by her mother to the abuser or when you speak with PTSD veterans and hear of the horrors visited upon them and that they inflicted upon others.  It’s not easy when you watch as friends and family members drink themselves to a speedy death, trying to avoid their pain or when you sit with a pedophile, hear their story and still see him as a human being. There is no silver lining in these tragic lives.  The valuable lesson is in the consequences of our small, bad decisions that build into tragedies that destroy lives.

Step back and take a new perspective!

Yesterday I interacted with a friend, someone whose religious (Islamic), cultural (Southwest Asian) and urban background is strikingly different from my own.  Someone whose opinions I value.  His views carry as much truth as those who are suspicious of him for his skin color, his faith, his nation of origin and his foreign sounding name. The difference between us in this time and place is not about our roots but about his anger. We can dwell on the injustice and intolerance of others when we find ourselves in the minority.  We can make ourselves angry, or we can step back and see the larger process. Dichotomous thinking like “us versus them” only begets such thinking in others.  If you believe that everyone has taken sides “for or against” you, you leave these “others” no choice but to take sides.  If you prepare for battle, so will they!  The error is in the process that we follow and fail to recognize as a choice.  Whether Christian, Muslim or Jew, when we create an outlook of “us and them”, saved and unsaved, infidel and believer we have become part of the problem and not the solution.

Peaceful center or conflicting opposites?

As I stressed to my friend, this optimistic process approach is not an easy choice to embrace and live.  I have been told that I am naïve, that I am a dreamer, that I have no beliefs, that I have no principles.  I disagree!  Let me use the Chinese symbol of the Yin and Yang as an illustration.  Does the balance we all strive for reside in the center of the light or the center of the dark?  Should we fight over who is in the position of right and wrong, of light and dark?  For both positions stand in stark opposition and both positions spin and twirl. Does the point of balance not reside in the very center of the symbol, at that place where you stand still as the world revolves about you, a point of centeredness and clarity? I choose to look for that middle ground, that point at which I stop spinning, when I close my eyes and feel the solid center of the divine under my feet. I choose to do it with a smile as I walk through flower gardens, as I float in peaceful waters, as I plant seeds in my students and sons, as I reach out to offer comfort to those in pain.  What do you choose?

  

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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