(This post was written longhand on November 9th and transcribed on November 10th)
It’s the journey that steels us, the stumbling and picking yourself back up, the seeking, that staves off fear and fills us with hope. Rev. Dr. Karen Tate
I am sitting on the shore of Lake Superior as I have done so many days these past few weeks. The weather in Upper Michigan has been glorious, sunny and mild, and the rocky shoreline has become my autumn office as I write longhand the stories from my recent walking pilgrimage through northern Portugal to Santiago, Spain. The writing comes easy as I sprawl out on sandstone, sun-soaked and happy in the present moment and remembering this remarkable three-week journey. My friend Mary and I entered our European pilgrimage eager and prepared, not only with backpacks stuffed with gear, but with an attitude that this was going to be fun and meaningful and that we would be open to its gifts. When you enter a path laid out by centuries of pilgrims, a route that traverses glorious landscapes and through picturesque villages, where everything is new and exciting and your days are simply spent walking, it is easy to find yourself in a state of receptivity, a state of mind that attracts expansive high vibration experiences and interactions.
And that is what happened for Mary and I; magical-seeming experiences became our norm. People from the villages we passed through invited us into their hearts and homes, provided us with clear directions and fresh baked goods, into family gatherings at small restaurants where they sang with a passion I’m not sure I have ever felt before, into outdoor markets and bar/cafes where the water was free for two thirsty pilgrims. There was a generosity and kindness and a lightness of being in the air that was palpable, from the people and their villages, and also from the air itself and the vegetation and the ocean, the mighty open Atlantic we followed north from Porto, Portugal that first week. Our days were long and delicious and the sea held a power and mystery that enveloped us. And during those days spent walking on beach and sand dune and boardwalk, the gulls became our companions, a flock of them, seemingly the same flock, would float above us and in front of us, pointing the way as they sailed along on the sea’s breeze. And then they would fly back and sail ahead again, sea angels pulling us forward and upward.
And that’s what it was like on this Camino to Santiago; Mary and I were constantly allowing ourselves to be pulled forward and upward into a more expansive, more generous, more ease-filled and loving way of being. So, sitting on the rocks here in northern Michigan, writing these stories of a pilgrimage that had its high vibe way with me is a pleasure, one that brings me back to those gulls and the sea and the sound of the waves, that brings me back to the kindness and love that was present throughout. I like hanging out in a vibration of generosity, where possibilities seem endless and the synchronicities and magical moments abound. I am needing to remember that today, that it is in the state of expansiveness that the solutions and good feelings arise. You see, I lost this vibration last night, couldn’t feel the light-hearted love of those gulls and that walk. I was not on the winning side of this presidential election and the defeat not only stung; it stunned me, and on so many levels feels devastating. That’s what I went to bed with last night, the stun and the sting and the sadness. And I woke up, and they were still there, those feelings that are murky and heavy and uncomfortable.
And so I decided to stay in bed until something shifted, anything at all. And as I pulled the covers up tight, I clutched a stone, a wonderful sun-colored smooth stone painted by the nature gods with rings of gray, a stone I had picked up a month ago along those miles and miles and miles of Atlantic shoreline, a stone that must carry some of the sea’s power because indeed something did start to shift for me. I started to hear it, a song from the Hamilton soundtrack, the “Rise Up!” song. I heard it loud and clear and it was like a slight breeze blowing away a bit of the heavy. And I did rise up, and I did eat breakfast, and I did get out in the woods I love so well, and I started to feel slightly better. And then I came here to the shore of the lake that feeds my spirit. And as the sun began to sink, I remembered the gulls and the lightness of being on our pilgrimage and my spirit began to finds its wings again. I know some things. I know that I love this country, its diversity of land and people, its democratic ideals. I know I want for it to be a welcoming place for all, a kind place, a creative place, an expansive place. And I know I want to embrace these qualities in myself. So, this turn of events is not what I saw coming and is not what I wanted to transpire.
As our Portuguese/Spanish journey was winding down, in the town of Finisterre, Spain, a village at the end of the world, one where the early explorers set sail for lands unknown, a fellow traveler on the Camino path said to Mary and I, “Your Camino has just begun!” And so here we are. Here I am, still on the pilgrim path some weeks later, with choices in my hands. Do I want to stay stuck in sadness and anger? Do I want to yell out to the other half of the population whose paradigm appears to be so different than my own, to become what I don’t tolerate well in others? Or do I want to rise up? Because when I do rise up, the view is expansive and the opportunity for positive solutions is mighty. It comes back to that huge gulp and a “darn it!”. It is up to each of us to find our alignment, to find our way up to the expansive vibration where we feel good, where solutions come to us with the ease of the gulls who found their way to Mary and me. It is up to each of us to claim it, that we are president of our own lives. And when we do claim it, when we do rise up and bring ourselves into alignment with what matters most in our hearts and minds and spirits, than we feel it, the power of those mighty waves, the power and mystery of life coursing through us. And from this place of inner power, we each will know what to do, what feels inspired, and it will be generated by love and kindness and creativity and we will have the courage of those early explorers who took off for lands unknown with a sense of expansiveness and possibility in their hearts.