Pilgrims progress…

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Progress is a noun, describing forward movement achieved. It’s also a verb, when the accent is on the second syllable, meaning the act of moving as it is occurring. Like sharks swimming in the sea, we have to keep moving or we die. And pilgrims are simply people who are doing the moving with awareness. Unlike vagabonds, pilgrims have a purpose, if not a specific destination. And it is all about the journey and the mindfulness we can bring to it.

Travelling full time in our motorhome is a singular experience. Our lives have been stripped of many non-essentials, possessions, obligations, expectations. Our knapsacks get lighter every day. Yet the experiences of simply living, the exquisite preciousness of the ordinary and mundane wash over us like waves filled with awe and gratitude. To have heat, light and water are wonderful things. And oh! the sheer joy of being level! Food in the fridge and clean clothes! Rain on the roof while we’re sleeping. The brilliant colors of sunrise and sunset framing each day like a jewel.

We know we’re blessed. We’re paying attention. It seems the least we can do.

Embracing Opposites

91D71225-06A1-4C90-9F00-8D3044CE7AF4Enya sings a song that, from my first hearing, even before I discerned all the lyrics, captured my attention and my heart. “Anywhere Is” was written by Nicky Ryan, Roma Ryan and Eithne Ni Bhraonain. The photo above is Henry Harvey’s “Moon Waves.”
I walk the maze of moments
But everywhere I turn to
Begins a new beginning
But never finds a finish
I walk to the horizon
And there I find another
It all seems so surprising
And then I find that I know
You go there you’re gone forever

I go there I’ll lose my way
If we stay here we’re not together
Anywhere is

The moon upon the ocean
Is swept around in motion
But without ever knowing
The reason for its flowing
In motion on the ocean
The moon still keeps on moving
The waves still keep on waving
And I still keep on going

You go there you’re gone forever
I go there I’ll lose my way
If we stay here we’re not together
Anywhere is

I wonder if the stars sign
The life that is to be mine
And would they let their light shine
Enough for me to follow
I look up to the heavens
But night has clouded over
No spark of constellation
No Vela no Orion

The shells upon the warm sands
Have taken from their own lands
The echo of their story
But all I hear are low sounds
As pillow words are weaving
And willow waves are leaving
But should I be believing
That I am only dreaming

You go there you’re gone forever
I go there I’ll lose my way
If we stay here we’re not together
Anywhere is

To leave the tread of all time
And let it make a dark line
In hopes that I can still find
The way back to the moment
I took the turn and turned to
Begin a new beginning
Still looking for the answer
I cannot find the finish
It’s either this or that way
It’s one way or the other
It should be one direction
It could be on reflection
The turn I have just taken
The turn that I was making
I might be just beginning
I might be near the end.

Here’s a link to the YouTube version:

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Natural Selection

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As a life long long student of New Thought, I am especially excited when I actually encounter one. Today’s new thought was this: “our body isn’t random, it is chosen by our soul.” For someone who has had a tumultuous relationship (!) with her physical expression, this came as a stunning revelation. My first reaction was: why ever would I choose this? followed very quickly by a upswelling surge of tender compassion for my beleaguered body. Both are worthy of attention.

Why, indeed? What are the inherent attributes of my body, its strengths and challenges? What experiences is it uniquely equipped to provide me? What have I learned so far that was only possible because I chose this particular body? How has this body mirrored my preferences and shaped my choices over the years? Have I proven a loyal and appreciative partner to my body in this lifetime? Is there anything I would like to do differently?

Yup! And that brings me to my second knee-jerk response, for I actually feel very kindly toward my physical self and very grateful to her for her faithfulness. The judgments I’ve passed, criticisms I’ve raised, condemnations I’ve made, punishments I’ve meted out, disciplines I’ve imposed, all were harsh, disproportionate and oblivious to my own complicity. Also not helpful. Enough!

New thought, in the best of all possible worlds, is quickly followed by manifested new actions, new behaviors and new awarenesses. So I am willing, today, to see and do my relationship with my dear body differently. She knows me best! And I know her! This could be really fun!

Arizona Highways

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We visited last week at 5000 feet in the pine and cedar forests of Payson, AZ at our niece Linda Mills’ house. She has a lovely, comfy home at the end of a culdesac where it’s quiet and cool. We played with her great dog Cody, shopped, prepared and ate meals together, sat on her porch in the early evenings and listened to the birds and enjoyed the gentle breeze. Before we left she got out her tools and installed our new fire extinguisher and repaired our screen door. Things that would have taken us hours to accomplish, if we could have done them at all, she made look easy! It’s been a peaceful, loving week and we are so grateful for her hospitality and unassuming goodness.

Yesterday we headed southwest through Mesa, where we picked up our provisions, made it through the middle of Phoenix on the freeway, and then back out to the open desert for a total of almost 300 miles before arriving just 10 miles from Mexico in Yuma, AZ. We stopped in Gila Bend for a late lunch at Humberto’s and had a delicious burrito and yummy rolled tacos. Things were going swell until late in the day, and at the extreme end of my availabile energy and attention, both the GPS and my husband insisted that our destination lay in the middle of a cornfield on a dirt road too narrow to get out of without backing up for half a mile! Sigh. And the resort’s phone is answered by a machine which says they’ll call back. Maybe. Sigh. But, as I like to say a lot these days, there’s more than one way to do absolutely everything! After turning off Google Maps and asking my darling to just be quiet, please, and let me think, I discovered a map feature on the resort’s website which gave different (and more accurate!) directions to our destination. Praise God!

So, because of our delay, we arrived after the registration office was closed. Sigh. But all is not lost. A camp host came swiftly to our rescue and got us registered, assigned a lovely spot with a view of an enormous grassy field out our kitchen window, a spot which is close to the pool and laundry facilities, has clear sky access for our satellite dish and then he even provided us with glossy magazine information about how to walk across the border into Los Algodones, which is apparently a haven for retired gringos looking for inexpensive and expert medical services not covered by Medicare.

So, here we are. It was warm enough last night to leave all our windows open, which means it will get hot enough today to close it up and turn on the AC this afternoon. We’ll check out the pool (natch!) and read up on border crossings. The whole conversation about immigration and walls and troops is brought into sharp focus in my mind. I wonder how we will be received as visitors on their side when things are the way they are on this side. I must look up how to say “Sorry!” in Spanish.

Sometimes we marvel at our own audacity. The choices we make, the adventures we have, the obstacles we surmount are really rather remarkable when we consider how predictable our lives were for so many years. I’ve been sitting here writing in the predawn quiet. Roosters are now crowing, rosy fingered dawn is emerging, a trash collecting truck can be heard in the distance and my coffee is gone. Gil has awakened and joined me and a new day has begun…

 

Let it…

50AD9C82-07D1-4CE2-8477-7A8D89369C9AIn the predawn hours, I sit quietly and notice the worlds within and without me. Wind rattles the handle on our closed awning against the side of our motorhome. I feel the gentle rocking and I relax into it. A train rumbles in the distance, moves closer, and louder, the whistle blows once, twice, three times, and the rumbling recedes into the silence again. I don’t know where it came from, what it’s carrying, where it’s gone. I simply notice.  The muscles in the left side of my neck and shoulder feel tight. Actually, they hurt. Gently I turn my head in that direction, ease into it and release the tension. It hurts less. Gil interrupts my reverie with questions about where we’ll go tomorrow, when we’ll leave, what he’ll wear. I answer patiently. Then he asks me to explain the end of the book we finished yesterday. He interrupts my answer and I resent that, and I respond with irritation. And the whole point of this writing is brought into sharp focus. When I allow, when I notice, when I let it be, I am at peace, harmoniously in synch with all that is. When I resist, my heart closes, my head pounds, my body tenses and I hate who I’ve become. Today I let that out, told him how I felt, hoping he would understand and empathize … and change. Instead, the look of confusion and sadness in his eyes told me he had no clue what he had done wrong nor how to fix it. Sad puppy-dog eyes. No one kicks the puppy. But one sometimes kicks oneself.

Dawn came. Breathing slowed. Heart opened. I spoke soft, reassuring words to my dearest friend and longtime beloved. Peace reigned. And, slowly, like releasing a tense muscle and leaning into the pain, I forgave myself.

I still don’t know where the train came from, or where it went.

Beyond Hope

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We drove from Lake Havasu City to Salome, Arizona yesterday on Gil’s ninetieth birthday. It was a beautiful two hour journey we stretched to three. We followed the meandering Colorado River, went through colorful rock canyons of improbable shapes and hues, over miles of shrub covered dunes and past remarkable cacti. We even drove through a tiny town called Hope. Careful, don’t blink or you’ll miss it! As we left, we both noticed a sign by the side of the road saying YOU ARE NOW BEYOND HOPE! We laughed out loud! Gil said, “Finally!” And I said, “Yeah, because hope is a subtle illusion and an unconscious compromise!” (Quoting Ernest Holmes from his Science of Mind textbook.) He also said it was better than despair, but inferred that it was not by much. That’s because hope has no power in it, no juice, no generative oomph! Sort of listless, passive even, not much is going on there or likely to happen in the near future. Hope completely abandons the creative energy of the correct use of mental and spiritual law.

An honest appraisal of current reality coupled with a grateful heart however, will actually propel us from where we are to where we want to go with incredible ease and speed. As the non-judgmental voice of the GPS wizard corrects our course, this three part process guides us unerringly. “Are we there yet? No. But we’re not in a ditch either! Great! So which way? Okay! Let’s go!”

Thankfully WE KNOW AND WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW! Now that’s when hope is no longer warranted and we’re finally beyond it!

 

Another Day at the Pool

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There was another couple at the pool last week when we went for our dip. In their late twenties or early thirties, they were experimenting with new snorkeling gear they said they’d bought on EBay. They practiced getting the fit right, holding their breath for dives to the bottom of the pool and clearing their masks and snorkels. We asked where they planned on using their equipment as there wasn’t much to see in our little pool. They told us of wanting to go to Hawaii, past trips (for him) in the Caribbean, how fun it is to feed the sting rays while standing on a sand bar, miles away from any “land” and how you position your hand like you’re feeding a horse, but it feels like a vacuum cleaner sucking at your palm. The four of us floated around and talked of many things: jazz and who was really genius versus the merely great; the film industry and how he loves to write and direct movies which, sadly, we have never seen; how we are all orphans with no parents among us still living and how that feels… She reminded us we needed sunscreen. I had forgotten to bring any. She had us use hers and supervised us getting all the parts of our faces covered the way you help a small child who, nevertheless, wants to do it herself.  Gil got chilled and we moved to the spa to warm up and our conversation flagged. Before we left for home, I asked their names and told them ours. First names only.

When we used to take our granddaughter Aiden to the park she always made friends readily. They would meet and greet and move forward together, talking, playing, getting drinks of water, laughing and expressing tender concern if one got hurt on the equipment. She could tell me their favorite color and how they smelled when I’d ask her about her new friend on the trip home, but she could never tell me their name. It seems that wasn’t an important piece of information to share and they never got around to it. She was surprised I’d asked about something as inconsequential as a name.

When we walked back from the pool to our home, I realized that I wished I hadn’t asked that couple their names; it actually felt friendlier before I knew.