Melanie’s pilgrimage road trip becomes a longer practice

My heart opened this year to a winding, fabulous pilgrimage journey, June to October. I found the Holy and found myself again, along the path to the Southwest– a scenic route full of stories, new friends, synchronicity and connections, sacred landscape, and more beauty than I thought I could hold. 6,500 miles and 5,500 photographs later, I’m astonished at all the twists and turns that took me where I needed to go and will lead me back again to New Mexico in December.

My photo collage, named Path to Knowing (above) illustrates all this for me. I used photographs of myself and locations along my journey to process and integrate my experiences. When the image came together, I felt an inner suspicion that the desert would call me back from Oregon again. But I didn’t KNOW it, so I drove north through 5 states to teach, be with friends and family, and see how the path would unfold in Portland. Sure enough, although I grieve deeply to leave loved ones, I can’t shake the tug of Spirit toward Albuquerque. My car and I will turn back around for another long trek south.

Sometimes I wish my discernment process would deliver clear answers in a more logical order, without all this not-knowing, feeling my way, making “mistakes,” and doubling back. I’m not sure why it still bothers me so much, but I can begin to complain, “With all this practice listening to the Holy and my inner guidance, why isn’t it easier or faster to know what to do? Why do I get Mystery instead?” Then I remember that maturing in a faith journey means getting used to and even celebrating the Mystery that reveals the path one moment at a time. It’s accepting that my life will twist and turn like a labyrinth, always leading “home” even when the curves come. It’s my letting go of whether the journey makes sense to others.

When I lived in “pilgrimage mode” this summer, I practiced this with more ease– I stayed alert, flexible, and spacious when I kept my intention to be open and present to whatever came my way, when it came my way. I found miracles every day. Somehow, when I arrived back in Oregon, I felt tempted to “get real again” and start forcing the moments into information and decisions. Ironically, however– the forcing doesn’t actually work, and it leads me away from Trust and away from co-creating in the dance with the Spirit. My Real Life blooms on holy journey, so now I want to make pilgrimage my life-long practice, whether or not I’m on the road.

In the collage, the green road sign points to the “wrong turn” I made toward Taos on my way to Ghost Ranch in Abiqui, NM in June. I looked at the map and saw highway 64, a diagonal cut from the Colorado border that seemed to be a short cut… but wasn’t. I arrived long after dark, a little frustrated. But when I look back on that leg of the journey, I wouldn’t trade the incredible taste of holy mountain air for an earlier arrival. Now that I’ve taken the scenic route of discernment through Oregon back to New Mexico, I want to drop any frustration and breathe deep these moments of sacred people and place that I will treasure.

Deep thanks to the Moonifest Granting Committee for their 2009 Award to support this pilgrimage art project. And as always, thanks to all of you for your patronage and interest. Your support keeps me on the path! Thank you and blessings!

–Melanie

See Path to Knowing details and digital collages from the same project:  Dream a New Dream and Everything is a Doorway

©Melanie Weidner 2009