About Initiation, Part 6

Go to Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 If we long for transformation and seek initiation, we’re looking for it in a culture which, at least in North America, seems short of ready options.  One alternative, however, remains open for most people, and that is pilgrimage.  Spring stirs it in us. Feel it? pilg1 Start small: weekend out of town, morning walk to work, afternoon run around the block.  I jog my neighborhood, making it by intention and action a ritual as well as exercise. I greet the morning sun with a line from the Odyssey that resonates for me: “All one brightening for gods and men.”  As I round the first corner, I move from brisk walk to jog.  Down the hill towards woods and swamp the town must have set aside as unbuildable or protected — no one has tried, at any rate.  A blessing on the spirits there, blessings in return back at me. Past the front yard garden of a lovely retired couple, a plot no more than 60 or 70 square feet, that will bloom in another month or so with all manner of flowers, then grow into a climbing, sprawling wonder of vines and stalks and pods, with sunflowers towering golden above the rest.  Past the small trim house of the Latino family who has done fine stonework on a retaining wall out front, though they still face snowmelt every winter from neighbors with lots uphill from them, so now I leap puddles gathered in the cracked sidewalk.  Each one lush with billions of invisible lives, even in the coolness of early spring, paramecia and bacilli and rotifers. Past juniper and ash and aspen, past the 150-year-old copper beech the school has, thanks be to the Powers who helped, chosen to save and build around rather than over.  Here are battles epic and acts heroic, if I only look.  Across the main campus intersection, which at this hour is mostly empty, the students still on break.  Hundreds making plans to return, my colleagues emerging to photocopy and staple, recharge iPad, dust off class text, take down old classroom posters and put up new ones.  The lacrosse fields and baseball diamonds still spotted with nubbly snow.  A car passes, the driver waving.  I wave back, not recognizing either vehicle or person, but glance at the bumper to see if it’s stickered and marked as a school vehicle.  This is my community, my tribe of work. tengu Past the chapel, pines spindly and lopped from a hundred years of pruning and thinning, but still there in spite of a campaign to “open up” the campus.  But the cut trees once shaded buildings in summer, and cooling bills rose after that.  There is my myth, ogre in the far land, troll at the bridge, orc to dodge and trick and slay.  Each time I run I tell myself another story, and the landscape holds up each one briefly, then settles it in, saying, “This too belongs, that one also seeks its home.” After about a mile, a turn and a steep hill, the houses shouldering each in miniature plateaus up the incline.  I drop to a walk at top — I haven’t run this for a couple of weeks, since the last heavy snowfall, and my loss of wind and tone shows.  The next mile flat, past the downtown, the post office and diner and banks.  Thousands of lives, feet, hands, eyes seeing much of what I now see, ears hearing earlier sounds of horse and buggy, wagon and cart, and sounds that never change: children, wind, voices we hear from two worlds that are also one. Want bigger myths? Find larger stories to tell, meanings that invest your landscape.  I start small, for practice, then turn my thoughts toward Derby, VT, home of my father’s ancestors, a small town north of here by some five hours.  I’ve never been; I’m visiting this summer, to walk the graveyard where some of my ancestors are buried.  Because at a “cabin-fever” dinner in southern Vermont last weekend, I chanced to hear (there are no chances; everything is chance) a story set in Derby that I took to heart, from Joan who taught there, years ago.  Everything, they say, is connected.  Not so much a matter of believing as finding out how it’s true.  Now the name of the town has been kindled for me.  I will visit.  Pilgrim, says my life, look around. pilg2

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Images: Saint Helier, isle of Jersey; Fo Guang Shan; 2009 spring pilgrimage

Posted 15 March 2013 by adruidway in Druidry, initiation, pilgrimage

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