Snuggling by the fire with Persy and Tim
In this season of giving, I want to remind you of three precious gifts every pilgrim needs. Last year, I wrote about music, silence and joy. This year, I have three gifts that are essential to my holiday joy. For me, these three gifts not only are a part of pilgrimage but also represent the cozy happiness of Christmas and the Winter Solstice, for sitting by a crackling fire with a good book and my dear family is the essence of life here on the farm. So, light a candle with me, gather a stack of books and cherish the precious people in your life and say a heartfelt thank-you to the people that have shown kindness to you this year.
People: Unless you go to the wilderness, other people will be part of your experience. Fellow travelers are the people we share our journey with and give us companionship; they are called to the same experience and give you new perspectives on the way. It is the unexpected person we meet that can be one of the most important parts of the pilgrimage experience. We meet to give each other the information, care and encouragement that become your teacher on the path. We meet to take care of the needs of each other. But most of all, we get to see every person as an expression of divinity. I have shared hotel rooms with stranded travelers, given shoes to someone who’s shoes were broken. I was given a much-needed ride to my destination and encouragement when I was tired. My fellow travelers had information and insights that I desperately needed. Most of all, they were companions to share my joy.
Books: Choose carefully your reading material for the journey. You might want to have something easy to read for the plane but, on the journey, I recommend something that can inspire you and enhance your experience. A book of poetry, spiritual stories or inspiration or holy text are important companions. Some people prefer to not read at all and just keep the moment pure. I love to read and find that a well-chosen book can guide me on the path. My daughter has a book with a poem a day. She reads it for inspiration and then makes notes in the margin as a mini diary of that day. I took a book of modern Zen stories to Spain and one of the lessons became the theme of my journey. Choose what works best for you and let the spirit of the journey and your heart guide you and it will be perfect.
Fire: Candles in a cathedral, sitting around a campfire, warming by a fireplace: these are the primordial acts that connect us with life-giving fire. In our modern lives, we don’t need an open flame for life, to cook or keep warm but, in our spiritual life, fire and flame focus us on the mysteries. Our ancestors sat around the fire at night telling the stories of our stars. Devotees for millennia lit candles at holy sites to focus their prayers with a flame. We use incense as a symbol of our devotion as the smoke surrounds us and brings the holiness to all our senses. Shamans use smudge, sage and sweet grass burning together to cleanse the energy to create sacred space. Give thanks for the fire that burns in us all to connect to our world and be a part of life.