Life as a Holy Pilgrimage

Man, I really oughtn’t be drinking a latte right now.  I was already so hyper this morning.  But I couldn’t resist.  Kurt (a follower of this blog), I fell deeper in love with you when you made the effort to clink metaphorical glasses to my stance that cappuccinos are indeed spiritual!  Cappuccinos are one of the most revelatory facets of my existence.  Except right now.  Right now it feels like the devil’s wicked poison, making me manically ecstatic.  My heart is probably beating faster than a hummingbird’s!  And on top of this, it’s a BEAUTIFUL, warm, lucid spring morning.  Well, I’ll do my best to remain poised and heavenly.

I missed writing to You yesterday.  I missed it so much that I had to play hooky from church just to be here with you now.  My day is pretty full, so it was either church or write.  Duh, writing IS my church, when push comes to shove.  And yesterday was my church too.  Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?  The Church of Revelatory Yesterday!  I’m gonna start it!  How deliciously ironical that would be, since the essence of most spiritual teachings are about the “here and now”.  But we are all yesterday junkies… so I bet it would have a relieving appeal.  I will stand up and preach about the perpetual, noble struggle to cling to yesterday in the face of a present moment that keeps trying to distract us and seduce us into the sacrilege of immediacy!  This is brilliant.

I was desperate to write today because my mind is simply overflowing with resplendence.  You know… inspired thoughts.  I want to slosh them gratuitously about the page… and I dare you not to open.  I dare you not to get turned on, inspired, enlivened.  (l LOVE slurping my warm beverages from a spoon!)  So yesterday, Mykael and I hiked from Tennessee Valley to Muir Beach.  For those of you who are not bay area natives, my condolences.  Just kidding.  But it’s a pretty hefty hike.  At least four miles each way.  But tons of steep ups and downs.  Like a metaphoric portrayal of a challenging period of life.  Parts of it wind right along cliffs that drop off to the churning, sullen turquoiser than thou body we know as the Pacific Ocean.  The first half of the hike, from Tennessee Valley to Muir, my mind was agitated.  Mykael was being moody, which made it harder for me to just rest in my own sphere of peace.  Also, I was expecting the temperature to be a lot warmer.  When we got to the beach, it was cold and windy and late.  Frown.  But the way back was worth it all!  We smoked a little pot, and prayed to for physical endurance and plenty of peace and happiness to sustain us the duration of the walk.  As we stood at the edge of the world, a prayin’ and a tokin’, the horizon began to blush like a modest though oversexed bride.  The sky was the softest blue.  A few sleek, patient clouds hovered here and there~ think bashfully melting marshmallows.  We continued to walk.  Smoking dropped me deeper into my body and I fell in love with the hard packed dirt and the heavy, rooted feeling I experienced each time I stepped.  Meanwhile, back in the sky, it began to look like APL (All Pervading Light) spilled Her psychedelic palate.  What a HOLY MESS.  It was all vibrancy.  The sun was a neon orange hole in the sky.  A hole through which the truth of existence as Light could be sneak previewed.  Slowly it oozed down toward the salivating, dramatic horizon of smooth, green, silhouetted cliffs and deepening ocean.  The pale blue of the sky made the whole scene look so gentle, approachable.  And if your eyes were brave enough to meander through the innocent canopy of blue softness, they would have stumbled right over an almost imperceptible sliver of crescent moon!

Every single moment there on the edge of the world was unique.  Every moment was revelation.  I stood, consumed by awe and PRAYED.  I prayed that I could widen myself, allow all this beauty to flood my being so that I could give it away.  I thought of the Rumi quote, “Let the beauty we love be what we do,” and I finally understood it.  Those moments of witnessing such pure grace… they were so WHOLE and COMPLETE.  There was no striving, nothing to figure out.  It was simply the beauty I love.  That is ALL there was to do.  Except, of course busy myself with trying to cram it all into a divine doggy bag, so that I could bring it home to feed to YOU.  And I don’t mean just with these petty words.  I mean with the generosity of my heart.  I mean EVERY WAY.  The thoughts I invite into my mind.  The purity of my actions… the trail of sweet nectar that floods in the wake of my footsteps upon this earth.

Once upon a summer afternoon, E* and I were hiking at Lake Tahoe and it was stunning!  The water was crystalline turquoise.  The sky vast, deep blue.  The air was clean and hot and held the sweet scent of pine and mountain dirt.  The immense granite boulders stood still in perpetual twinkle.  It was another one of those moments that is devastatingly uncontainable.  So we stood at on the tender precipice where past fucks the future wide open in the space called now… and we folded the vivid image.  Then we folded it again.  Then again, and again and once more… till it was small enough to fit in the palm of a standard sized hand… and we both tucked it away in the luxurious, divine privacy of our own souls, so that we could keep it forever.  I still have mine.  I nibble and sip on it every so often.  I would bet you tons of gold and jewels that if you asked E*, he’d indubitably admit to having his nestled in the breast pocket of his own heart to this day.

I didn’t fold up the sunset last night…  But I widened myself and begged for it to become me, me to become it.  And then I walked on, bathing in the blessing that was too big to wrap my head around.  And as I walked, the sky continued to darken, which only vivified the high hanging, dainty slice of moon.  I told you before that every moon is different.  Well the beams that danced off of this one were reminiscent of honeyed jasmine.  Don’t ask me why.  I could almost smell jasmine as I thirstily lapped up the fuzzy, luminous moon breath.  Slowly, shyly, stars began to come out of hiding.  But the BEST part was happening upon a view of San Francisco.  (I just danced in the bathroom again.  I am a good dancer.  I wish I felt like doing it in public… I bet it would be really healthy and fun.  Any day now…)
”San Francisco twinkled

as a sudden spray of effervescent gold,

cast by a hand so large

and Loving.”

That’s what I wrote last night as I marveled at the glimmering, gold lights that logic would have called “San Francisco”.  But REALLY… Was it SF?  For all I know, it really could have been an accidental spill of magic, flaming dust by some drunken, horny angels… Who am I to say?  All I know is the enchantment it sucked to my surface.

And then more walking.  And walking and walking.  Despite all this beauty, my mind threatened to suffer with thoughts of exhaustion and “when are we going to BE THERE?”  I begged it not to.  In order to quiet it, I reminded myself that I had walked all the way across Spain with a heavy backpack on.  (with E*)  We averaged fifteen miles a day.  One day we walked twenty six miles.  Marathon distance.  It was the pilgrimage route, the Camino De Santiago. It took us a month. Then I realized that I could perceive this walk, too, as a pilgrimage.  In that context, walking toward Revelation, toward awakening to the truth of our saturation in LOVE, suddenly I was willing to walk Forever.  I realized that LIFE is but a holy pilgrimage. Which means that every single person is a fellow pilgrim.

I dunno if you’ve ever walked a pilgrimage before… but there is a special comradery among pilgrims.  There is an unspoken bond we all have, sharing a sacred goal.  We have an understanding of what it takes to walk and walk and walk and walk, in the name of touching something holy within ourselves.  Walking through our own fears, limitations, aches and pains, hopes and dreams.  What a beautiful and accurate way to perceive humanity.  We ARE all pilgrims and the road is long and arduous and beautiful.  But it is sweeter when we share our water and our joy along the way.

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How Do You Know When To Let Go?

We stood, eyes locked in a tragic gaze, at the mouth of the Metro in Paris.

“How do you know when to let go?” E* asked, his words strewn with sincere confusion and constricted love.

“How ‘bout now?” I said, knowing that it was either now or three clingy, desperate nows from now.  I turned away from this tall, devoted partner, hardening sheerly out of necessity, and climbed back up the steps into the light of Parisian day.  Half way up the steps, I turned back to make sure that he had followed my lead and allowed himself to be swept into a new current, an underground current that would lead him to Pizza, Italy, home to the bay area and then on to an outdoor training adventure.  His eyes, saturated with heavy, clear compassion spoke one final goodbye before he turned his back and disappeared into subterranean darkness.

There I was.  Alone.  On the streets of Paris.  Twenty five years old.  When this reality struck me, I flooded with dread.  It was a stronger concentration of the same feelings that flush me when the sun slips behind a cloud, and the world I see is suddenly ominous and dark.  Tears came fast, but I didn’t succumb to them.  Paris is demands much more restraint.  Instead I wandered into the health food store near the entrance to the Metro station where I killed about a half an hour in a state of less than blissful distraction.

Can you guess the moral of that autobiographical snip of a story?  It’s the letting go piece.  Letting go.  Why is it so hard?  Our illusions of scarcity, I suppose.  Well, I am pretty fucking certain that I am ready to let go of M.  But every time I look in the mirror and face the music (face the music in the mirror, I love that!) I flush with guilt, fear and denial.  Any one of those three feeling experiences on its own is enough to pickle a few livers, but when they join forces in a less than holy cocktail, LOOK OUT!  Guilt, fear, denial.  This is why I keep trying to pretend myself free from my inner knowing.  Sometimes the inner voice seems to be something to fear.

Why is that???

Anne Lamott, the writer, talks about how some writers’ writing process is reminiscent of driving through thick fog.  You can only see a few feet in front of you, but you trust that more road will be revealed if you just keep moving forward.  I would say I write this way for sure… but what I am driving at, is that this is LIFE.  Our limited perceptions can only see so much.  I believe that God can see a whole lot more and that is why trust is essential on this Holy Pilgrimage.

What I am grappling with now, is how to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the ego.  What is this inner knowing that is compelling me to let go of my relationship with M?  Is it the voice of God, or the voice of my ego?  I could sit and deliberate on this all day long… but… what would that serve?  The bottom line is that it is what I feel, deep down.  And at this stage in my unfolding, this gut feeling is as good as it gets.  So, my question stands~ How do you know when it’s time to let go?  And my answer, too shall stand~

How ‘bout now?

Now can I get some comic relief?  Because I feel so heavy.  Where have my bejeweled wings gotten off to?  Has anybody seen my bejeweled wings?  I should make a MISSING poster and plaster it all about my neighborhood.  REWARD for any information leading to my not so suddenly missing bejeweled wings.  If I had them now, how would I be different?  Would I fly away from the human messes I’ve strewn about this life of mine?  Tempting… but no.  If I found my bejeweled wings, I would use them for only for Holy Missions.  I would use them to bless.  I would know my strength as God’s strength.  I would fly Home, to the unconditionally Loving arms of the Ultimate Dream.  But don’t misunderstand.  Flying home does not mean abandoning ship on this silly, sinking world of illusion.  No, it just means a soft though potent shift in perception… Like a frown that melts into a warm, holy smile.  And suddenly I remember.  I remember that God is always my Guide, and I am That.  I remember that the True me is never threatened, cannot die.  Cannot be broken by tragedy or dreams of fear and separation.

With my wings, I am courageous.  With my wings, I am a divine servant.  With my bejeweled angel wings, I only see as God sees.  When I fly, my wings sprinkle a wake of shimmering treasures upon this world.  Treasures born to elevate, inspire and remind.  I will find my wings.  I will find them, because I have not lost them, only forgotten.  Any second I will remember.  I can feel it.  I can almost hear my wings beating just behind the imaginary veil of darkness in which I have become accustomed to identifying with.  They sound like birds singing in bellish voices.  Or bells singing with birdish voices.  They sound like smoldering flames, like benevolent warmth.  When they beat, tropical breezes, heavily pregnant with floral scents are born to elevate the minds of the masses.  When they beat, you remember your home in Peace.

I say this to soothe all of myself.  I say this because this is the expression of sincere yearning from the heart of a saint in training.  Perhaps a saint is just One who has remembered their wings… Perhaps letting go requires trusting that it is my Destiny to fly.