The Multiplicity of Pilgrimages

And I also do believe that we have this possibility of doing a pilgrimage every single day. Because a pilgrimage implies in meeting different people, in talking to strangers, in paying attention to the omens, and basically being open to life. And we leave our home to go to work, to go to school, and we have every single day this possibility, this chance of discovering something new. So the pilgrimage is not for the privileged one who can go to Spain, and to France, and walk this 500 miles, but to people who are open to life. A pilgrimage, at the end of the day, is basically get rid of things that you are used to and try something new.       Paul Coehlo

A friend turned me on to a podcast interview with Coehlo. Too late to listen, I was able to read the transcript.

I’ve been on a pilgrimage to clean the house, well, the upstairs. Basically, that was my try something new part. My husband cleaned the downstairs a few days ago. He got the kitchen, me the bathrooms and the office and the writing room. He managed the work in one day; I’m on day two with the writing room still to go.

I could whine a little, say all the stuff on shelves and layers of saved pieces of paper on the desk and the bookcases were harder than the kitchen where things all have their place, but I won’t.

In many ways, cleaning the upstairs is a sort of pilgrimage. I cleaned windows and floors, washed and put away the extra fleece blanket I keep on my side of the bed for cold nights, hand washed the rabbit wool socks and retired them for the season.

While we’ve had a lot of rain and chilly days, the sun is now out and growing warm. As I cleaned the little office window, I saw the purple iris are blooming in the back garden. The purple iris are often a topic in my blog posts. There’s one here, and another here, but if you simply put iris in my blog’s search box, there’s several. Seeing them reminds me of the pilgrimage involved in going home.

The office shelves are full of photos. Some of my husband and me, and that takes me on a journey in time, remembering when that photo was taken; another I took of my sister when I lived in Hawaii. There’s a little blue Chinese teapot with gold dragons my son gave me one Christmas, and a small silver kaleidoscope he gave me another year. And books, mercy are there books.

On the top shelf are the art books from when I was going to be a sculptor, forty years ago. The History of Art. That’s a big one. Downstairs, I still have a bust I sculpted from clay, made a cast of, and poured in molten something or another. It’s not metal, but it is heavy. I call her my Bedouin Woman.

The office also holds Cliff’s pilgrimages. One corner shelf, defying easy dusting, is filled on one level with hockey pucks, including one signed by Patrick Roy, my favorite goalie, one year, years ago, when we were in Denver. Another shelf is full of baseballs from various stadiums where he’s watched games.

A spring-cleaned room is a destination one can rejoice in. Yes, yes, I still have the writing room, which, if you could see it, is a little scary. Talk about pieces of paper and books! I am not a tidy writer.

Four floor to ceiling bookcases, filled, mind you, cover one wall and wrap around one corner. Another corner holds a antique built in corner shelf with frilly cut sides (it came with the house) and is filled, mostly, with stones and tiny collections from the places I’ve traveled. Another corner shelf, matching with frilly cut sides, is filled with books and one ceramic lady whose wide skirt is open at the sides for flowers. I painted it, once, so long ago I don’t know when except childhood, and there’s layers of papers and old manuscripts.

I have left this writing room for last. It will feel like 500 miles to Santiago de Compostela by the time I’ve finished, and I will surely feel virtuous.




Spring Cleaning

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

      This morning, the sky is clear blue and a high wind, a March wind, sways the bare treetops. Never mind that we have one more day of February – this Leap Year day – it almost doesn’t count except it’s a catch up day.

It smells and feels like spring, regardless of the date.

Lent is like that early spring wind: when Lent arrives, you know spring won’t be far behind. Lent is a spiritual spring-cleaning, opening the windows of the soul to let in new light and fresh air for rebirth.

There’s another side to the spring wind, however. Last night’s spring thunderstorm brought tornadoes with it across southern Kansas and Missouri and north of us into Illinois. Just south of us, the small town of Buffalo, Missouri was hit as was Branson.

Destruction and rebirth walking hand in hand. That’s not a new story.

Today’s first reading is from the story of Jonah (as in Jonah and the whale Jonah) and the near-destruction of the great city, Nineveh. We get part of the story here, how God repented from destroying the city because the people “turned from their evil ways…” But there’s more – after God repents, Jonah complains: so you could have done this without me. If you were going to spare them anyway, I wouldn’t have had to leave home, be swallowed by a whale, lost at sea. And God wisely says, your comfort is more important than these thousands of people to say nothing of their animals?

We humans, we’re very good at complaining.

The Psalm reading says, in part, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…”

It’s spring-cleaning time. What are your complaints? How will you brush them from your soul? What would your clean heart look like? Feel like?