Archive for the ‘Travel & Pilgrimage’ Category

Joyous Jubilee,
Sixty years, a passing age,
Diamond-hearted love.

In 2005, I made the momentous decision to become a British citizen and to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, something I am allowed to do without forfeiting my American citizenship and loyalty. I am proud to be an adopted daughter of Britannia, and felt blessed to take time this past weekend to appreciate the constancy and commitment of our Queen. And believe me… no one puts on a show like the Brits! Although we considered going into London to join in the festivities, the rather relentless rain kept us home where we enjoyed the extensive BBC coverage of  the Jubilee in comfort and style… snapping photos of the television just for fun, and to give us some colorful memories.

Please visit the Friday rendezvous of the
haiku my heart community at recuerda mi corazon


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May is always a magical month, where winter’s dreams of warm sunshine and spring travels begin to come true. This year is shaping up as a summer of houseguests and homeland adventure, but we managed a quick trip over to the Continent to celebrate World Labyrinth Day with friends from our labyrinth community. Once abroad, who could resist the chance to indulge in an extra bit of European culture and gastronomie?

Sparked by an invitation for Jeff to speak at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, we planned a rendezvous with our dear friend Lea Goode-Harris, literally picking her up at the airport on our way to catch the night ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland…. and it didn’t take long for the magic to start!

Lea and I hadn’t seen each other for six months, but had been in daily contact in that delightful way that technology affords. There is nothing like seeing a plan come together, though; first there were hugs, and then there were gifts, laced with the special magic that can only be sparked in the presence of a long and deep friendship and a uncanny sense of kinship:


A hand-painted silk scarf that exactly matched the salmon-y pink shoes I had only just purchased for the trip… How did she know? An amazing accessory for my first pair of post-boot shoes!Eyeliner

The perfect green-gold eyeliner, one that only a really close friend would know how to choose (perhaps reflecting the many hours we’ve spent together at cosmetic counters over the years).

Zentangle Kit

And an Official Zentangle Kit of my very own!
Don’t know what that is? Prepare to be amazed!

In Harwich we feasted on freshly-caught fish and watched our Stena line ferry slide past the window as it came in to dock. Once checked-in and onboard, we reveled in the coziness of our sweet little cabins then headed to the bar for a celebratory drink before retiring for the night. It felt a bit like we were setting off on a mini-cruise, knowing we’d be on the other side of the North Sea by the time we awoke. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is….

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Meandering paths
crisscross the planet, always
leading home to Self.

One of the deepest gifts we can give in this world is our attention — our full, open-hearted attention. And yet, it can be a hard thing to do in our busy lives when society often insists on judging us by our ability to multi-task with ease and grace. In reality, however, ease and grace come from an altogether different source, an inner place where we can take the time to listen to ourselves, to Spirit, and to those who matter to our hearts.

Because we travel so much, I’ve learned that I like to pay attention to Place and Person, which means I don’t like answering the phone and responding to emails when I’m spending time with a friend, and that I need to retreat into Quiet in order to take in the sights and sounds of Place when I am exploring new terrain or making pilgrimage to sacred sites. What works for me is to write on a daily basis, no matter where I am, because it is my writing that helps me to make sense of my surroundings and recogize my community. But then I wait until I get home to distill meaning and polish my writing. So it is only now that I have returned to the routine of my daily life that I am ready to write here about the travel delights that we’ve just experienced. I so appreciate the immediacy of posts from people who can process and publish more quickly, but I am also coming to an understanding that I, personally, work more slowly. Thus, I apologize for the time delay, but hope that what I say here will reflect my deepening understanding of the Path. I will be sharing the stories of our recent journeys gradually over the coming days, both here and on our Labyrinthos blog… I hope you’ll join me!

Please visit the Friday rendezvous of the
haiku my heart community at recuerda mi corazon

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England seems to have lost its Spring this year, but my calendar tells me it is May despite the weather. My foot is healing, and today we are off on a long-awaited adventure. We will meet up with our good friend Lea Goode-Harris in a few hours, then take the night ferry to the Netherlands. Tomorrow is World Labyrinth Day, and Jeff will be speaking at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. From there, we will drive down the Dutch/Belgian/French coastline, returning to England through the Eurotunnel on Tuesday night. We plan to explore several labyrinths, rendezyous with old friends and new, and enjoy lots of good food! So it seems the season is blossoming despite the weather…

Cold rain turns colder,
Only my heart feels the warmth
of the Beltane fire!

Please visit the Friday rendezvous of the
haiku my heart community at recuerda mi corazon

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My ankle must be healing…. I am beginning to think clearly and care about things again. Last night as I was looking through the photos on Jeff’s camera, I found the one I’ve been wishing I had taken; greeting us as we arrived at the hospital in Glastonbury was this carved stone:

No kidding!

Despite the pain and drama,  this bit of welcoming magic assured me that this seeming accident must surely hold some deeper meaning for me to discover….

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Today I showed up

in the four directions that matter most:

I reached in, to feel my heart,

and out, to connect with others,

down to dig for truth,

and up, to God.

Tonight I can sleep in peace,

secure in my faith,

believing in promises kept.

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Lincoln Cathedral Pilgrim

I do believe I’m back in blogland.  And amazingly, no computers were harmed in the course of my exile!

I really tried to like other blog software, but this is the blog I love, and the more times my computer locked me out, the more I wanted in. One last wrestling match with my ActiveX controls before heading out to buy a new computer this morning seems to have done the trick. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, pilgrimage continues to capture my heart and imagination… and I look forward to sharing my images and tales from the past few months of travel and pilgrimage. Please stay tuned…

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International travel and long-haul flights become less and less fun every year, and I don’t think it is just a matter of the novelty wearing off. I fly back to the US at least a couple of times a year…. seeing my family and friends here is important enough to be worth the stress of the travel.

One of the things that I love most is watching for the Travel Angels…. and believe me, they’re there! So, here’s the most recent story:

Tired after a 10-hour flight to Detroit, I had to wait in line at Immigrations for so long that I missed my connecting flight to San Francisco. The Delta agent did his best to get me onto another flight, but there were just no seats available on later flights; my only option, the only seat available that night, was to fly via Salt Lake City on a plane that was already boarding. He told me to run for it…

Breathless and desperate for food, water, and a toilet, I wanted to cry, but didn’t have time to stop to buy a bottle of water, let alone attend a Pity Party. I made the flight, barely. My seatmates had to get up to let me in, and I’m sure my fluster was apparent to all. Realizing I was hungry on a foodless flight, they looked at each other and told me not to worry; they had been to Zingerman’s and they wanted to share.

Out of their bright yellow Zingerman’s bag came a loaf of chewy French bread, packets of wafer thin meats, turkey with rosemary, meltingly rare slices of roast beef, mortadella, couscous salad, pickles and little pots of mustard — a veritable feast!

I don’t know whether it was the food, the hunger, or the kindness, but I would swear that this was absolutely the food of the gods! Perhaps even nicer…. the hugs as we said goodbye at the end of the flight, a new friendship formed.

The truth is, we are, or can be, each other’s angels…

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Support comes in many forms…. From the outset, our plans felt blessed by synchronicity and grace. With our iPhones giving us on-road accessibility, friendly text messages and emails continued to give us the almost uncanny support that began when we first made the decision to walk.

The morning after we decided to make this walk, a little package dropped through my letter box; inside was a set of beautiful prayer beads, complete with a scallop shell, that would support me in my spiritual preparation. Such signs of support continued through every stage of our planning and our journey. With no conscious planning, a very special spiritual mentor just  “happened” to be in Chartres the week we walked, and was on hand to greet us with ceremony and gifts when we arrived. Another mutual friend stepped up to support me through a moment of difficult challenge.  Perhaps more than ever before, I was aware of how blessed I am by the people in my life.

On Thursday evening we were invited by a private group to join them in their private candlelight labyrinth walk and prayer circle in the cathedral. What magic!


Some of you burned candles for us, some walked labyrinths, others sent messages of support and dedicated some of your activities in support of our pilgrimage. As you prayed for us, we were also thinking of you, weaving you into fabric of our walk and appreciating your presence in our lives.


Several friends sent little tokens for us to carry — sweet grass for smudging…  small bags of affirmations to support and inspire us on the days we walked, one to be drawn at random morning, noon and night…  an angel card for each of us  — Lisa’s was Trust; mine was Release, and I felt her close as she encouraged me onwards during my quiet hours of walking…

Some of the clothing we wore was borrowed, as was  some of our equipment, a seemingly small thing, but something I thought a lot about as I felt my walk being linked to dear friends and earlier walks. On some deep level I felt their experiences informing and shaping mine. Connection is a precious gift!

IMG_0235And I want to mention another kind of support… trekking poles. Pure magic! I had never walked with poles before, but so many people had recommended them that I decided to give them a go, imagining myself with a traditional Pilgrim’s Staff. I was worried about losing my balance or tripping over my own feet if I got tired or hungry. Having heard that poles give a full body workout, I assumed one pulled oneself along with the poles, but what I found is that they sort of walk themselves, moving with the movements of my hip. I was enchanted by their companionship and rhythm.

Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.  — George Fox

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Leaving400 Monday, 31 August 2009

We decided early on that this pilgrimage would not be a journey of deprivation, but rather one of celebration and joy. Two close friends, heart sisters, celebrating mid-life empowerment and vitality. Our day in Paris was carefully planned to be a time for relishing our sense of adventure as we anticipated the road ahead of us. We wanted to mark our course with a careful and meaningful setting of intention. Our anticipation ran high as the Eurostar whisked us out of England and across France. Arriving in Paris, the weather was glorious, the city beautiful. We were on our way! ND400 The Rue Saint Jacques, with its history of pilgrimage, welcomed us with familiar pilgrim symbols. We dropped our packs at our hotel, then wandered through the Latin Quarter on our way to Notre Dame, the spiritual beginning of our pilgrimage. We lit candles to dedicate our journey to the Divine Feminine, appreciating the scallop shells and amazingly beautiful depictions of Mary. Jacques400Leaving the Notre Dame and its gawking tourists behind, we walked on, heading towards the Tower of St Jacques, the traditional gathering place for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. Here we marked the beginning of our physical journey, feeling the presence of the centuries of pilgrims who had gone before us. It was peaceful and quiet in the little square park, full of Parisians enjoying a few quiet moments in the late summer sun.

From here, we took the Metro to Montmartre, home to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, the beginning ofMontmartre400 our heart journey, and another opportunity to light a candle for the journey ahead, with all its internal and external implications. This was my point of coming full circle, my return to the exact spot where I had made my decision to reclaim my vitality so that I could say yes to all that Life has to offer. In 15 months, I had made good on my promise, had lost the 100 pounds (7 stone in British parlance) of weight that buffered me from fully engaging with life; Iwas here to accept the challenge and invitation I had given myself.

As the day grew to a close, we could feel ourselves shifting into Pilgrim Mode. We stumbled across a restaurant that intrigued us…. truly an ideal place to celebrate our departure. Located just off the Rue St Jacques, the walls were covered with scallop shells and we dined in true Parisian elegance, sipping  champagne and feasting on beautifully prepared and delicious shellfish. Walking back to our hotel in the balmy evening air, only one thing remained to close out our day: we tied our scallop shells on our packs and went to bed.


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