One: Pilgrimage

This weekend we participated in a short two-day pilgrimage in Banff. The plan entailed two fifteen-kilometer walks, one from the park gate to Banff and from Banff up Sulphur Mountain then to the hot springs. Not all plans come to fruition as envisioned.

Perfect for a pilgrimage

Perfect weather greeted us Saturday morning. Our meditation revolved around the question “Where are you going?”, John 13: 36-38. We had each selected an image cut from a magazine the previous evening. Our leaders encouraged us to seek out the reason why the photo spoke to us and how it reflected our life within the context of the quote.

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust
Seeing clearly

Why this photo?

The first reflection: the couple in my image gazed toward the light yet the mist impaired their vision. A sense of well-being permeated the photo. Although I cannot see the results clearly (I am not in control) I can trust the direction I have taken.

Preparations

In preparation for this event I had taken up some strenuous physical exercises at the gym while breaking in a new pair of walking shoes. I had neglected to consider the weight of a back pack. Not used to the load I found the easy first walk difficult to complete. My feet and legs were in torment by eventide as I had fatigued tendons beyond comfortable. Later I noticed the tenderness of my arms, hands and shoulders as well as the muscles embracing my rib cage. Apparently, I had used the walking sticks well.

Pain

Early the next morning I stretched my left foot, testing the waters so to speak. Ah, yes. All was well. My right heel screamed in protest. Not so good. The organisers arranged for the backpacks to be stored for the day. Even without this weight, I decided to forego the climb. Several people took the bus with me to the gondola. We were to meet everyone at the top for lunch, some spiritual nourishment and a soak in the hot springs.

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust
Passing the time

Meditating

Over the course of the day I reflected on the question and the photo. I took the time to sketch the view. Having nowhere to sit I developed the drawing to the point when I could finish it from memory as I took the weight off my feet in front of the elevator. Joining the others who had stayed behind we decided to eat as the lunch hour had passed long ago.

pilgrimage, retreat, blog, flow, trust
Allowing the flow

Finding quiet in the tourist flow

The second reflection: amidst the bustle of the environment I remembered a quiet moment from the previous day. A beaver dam, perfectly constructed, adorned the south side of the path. The water flowed, keeping the pool fresh behind the barrier. A mound of sticks hooked within a grove of dead pine toward the middle of the pond provided shelter for the inhabitants. A perfect example of co-habitation. Beavers only block the flow enough to create a depth of water to keep them safe. Allowing the flow refreshes their habitat. My life is best when I allow rather than resist.

Peace

I could complain about the difficulties of the pilgrimage. I could. And instead of the peace and the gratitude of being able to walk again without limping I would be drained of energy. I choose to allow the flow. I choose to trust. All is well, and all will be well.

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