Friday, November 12, 2010
Day 33 - What does the word 'pilgrimage' really mean?
'Pilgrimage is a spiritual discipline that involves walking'. I like that definition. If you've ever spent the day walking out in the mountains you'll know how true that is.
Life as a whole is a pilgrimage. Getting from point A to point B. Sometimes it feels as if I 'm stuck or going in circles. Point B seems incredibly elusive at times. Perhaps I'm not walking fast enough, or maybe that's just it - perhaps I should slow down a little at times!
When I climbed Kilimanjaro our guides told us at least ten times a day: 'pole, pole...!' Slowly, slowly. Your chances of being affected by altitude sickness when you rush is just so much higher! You want to ease your body into the altitude as it were, giving it a chance to adapt at a rate that it can handle.
That really required discipline in the early days when we were still all fit as fiddles and full of enthusiasm. Climbing was easy and oxygen freely available! Things changed drastically as we got higher and with the help and instruction of our guides, we found our pace.
I guess that's how the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is going to play out for me as well. Pole, pole. After all, I am going to walk 500 miles to go to church! (I wish I could take credit for that statement, but I have to admit, I heard another pilgrim describe his journey that way - I love it!)
This same pilgrim also described pilgrimage as follows: 'Pilgrimage engages your emotions, your intellect, spirit and body.'
They tell me that if you walk the camino and you don't want anyone to talk to you, you simply hang a little board around your neck. (The board has to have a cockle shell, the pilgrim's symbol, painted on it.) In the pilgrimage of life I think those little boards should be standard issue.
As for my Kilimanjaro pilgrimage - it was a huge success. It turned out to be so much more that I had even anticipated. As for my daily pilgrimage, well, it's a work in progress. And the Camino de Santiago - the more I read and hear about the experience, the more impatient I get to pack my bag!
What was it they said again? Pole, pole pilgrim...