By Amy Benedict
We think of a pilgrimage as a journey of great spiritual or moral significance—yet our whole life’s course can be seen as a pilgrimage. A simple walk from your home and back can become a ritual to enact these sacred quests. Take a walk in your neighborhood with intention and new awareness and open yourself to wonder and possibilities.
The Departure Wear clothes that will keep you comfortable and make it easy to move. Consider whether you will dress to blend in with your surroundings or to bring a bit of color or personal expression. Acknowledge and mindfully let go of what you are leaving behind as you step across the threshold of your home into the outdoors.
The Walk You have left home. Yet, you are not walking to work or any particular destination. You are simply walking in the world, seeking, finding poetry, and imbuing the encounter with meaning. Consciously open yourself to the mystery and wonder that lies before you. If it is a sunny day, observe the play of light and shadow. Notice the rhythm of your gait in relation to the expansion and contraction of your breath. Feel the subtle warming exertion of your body’s movement. Observe the movement in the world around you, of other beings, of cars and clouds. Experience yourself as a part of this dance of creatures, architecture, vehicles, and the natural landscape. Consider the shape of your route, imagining the bird’s eye view. Your walk may take you alongside roads or down sidewalks. You may find yourself walking a path formed by others’ footsteps around or beside a body of water, woods, or field. Contemplate these intersections of nature and human consciousness. Maybe you find a symbolic object (a stone, pine cone, an event flyer, a budding branch, a coin). Be aware of what you are both offering and taking in as you meet this familiar world anew. Cultivate curiosity and feelings of gratitude.
The Return As you cross the threshold into your home again, think about what you are returning with. Has your perspective changed? What did you discover? What do you want to share with your family or friends? Maybe you will write briefly or compose a haiku. Perhaps you draw or paint or simply sip a beverage and revel in and reflect on the quiet transformation that your neighborhood pilgrimage has brought.
Amy K. Benedict is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant living in the beautiful Mount Monadnock region of New Hampshire. Through her practice, Marigold Ceremonies, she creates and performs weddings and other rituals and ceremonies to help individuals, couples, and families celebrate and cultivate a flourishing life. [email protected]