Craig and I are planning a Big Trip that we’ll be taking next September. We’ve been poring over Rick Steves guidebooks and watching his PBS show, and reading books like The Mindful Traveller and The Art of Pilgrimage. I like Phil Cousineau’s definition of a pilgrimage as a journey towards something that is sacred to you. These two books helped me have a deeper-than-the-average travelling experience when I went to New York last year. So I’m delving into them again.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the polarity of travelling versus staying at home. Is it really true that one has to travel halfway around the world to visit sacred sites and have a deep experience? What about the sacred sites here in North America; what about the sacred sites in our own backyards?
I’ve long believed that getting to know your own Place on the planet in a deep way is one of the keys to “saving the planet” — if each person became a caretaker of the neighborhood s/he calls home, every place on earth would be covered. (This isn’t my original idea — I learned it from Alan Durning’s This Place On Earth.)
But, but, but . . . I love to travel. I love the experiences of seeing new places, meeting new people, being exposed to cultures and customs different from my own. And more than that, I like having the time and space away from everyday responsibilities. Especially when you work at home, the line blurs between work, homemaking tasks, relaxation and spiritual practice — all these happen in essentially the same space.
It strikes me that this polarity is kind of like The Art of Pilgrimage held in balance with Everyday Matters.
Phil Cousineau writes about the four practices of Sacred Travel:
– Practice the arts of attention and listening
– Practice renewing yourself every day
– Practice meandering toward the center of every place
– Practice gratitude and praise-singing.
It seems to me that these are great practices for Staying Home, too.