I am gob smacked by spring this year. After all the rain and storms we’ve enjoyed this winter, existing creeks are rushing beyond their banks while dry ones have surged back to life. For the first time in over a decade I can see the actual waterfall that my favorite and most frequently hiked trail is named for. Wildflowers spray the trails and fields with gleeful ecstasy.
I don’t know why I continue to be surprised when spring shows up. In the midst of winter, I don’t seem to remember that the cold and grey will pass. It feels dark and brooding. It’s easy to forget the life that is teeming out of sight and underground. Then, one day, it’s as if Mother Nature wakes from a deep dream and with a long stretch reaches out and flicks on the light switch of spring.
While the real spring is bursting forth around us here in the western hemisphere, the symbolism of awakening possibilities has also been on my mind as I prepare to lead a group of women on pilgrimage to the Mystical Wells of Ireland. The second stage of pilgrimage – the Call – is much like the darkness that precedes spring. It is the invitation to enter the underworld searching for a treasure, wisdom, something that you can’t find at home. The Call comes from deep within summoning us to awaken.
In The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau speaks of the sacred call where we seek personal answers to ultimate questions. We may be called to a particular place only to be drawn inward to surprising new territories. He invites us to listen as if our lives depended on it.
Much like spring, pilgrimage is a sensory experience. We see new vistas, hear different sounds, smell unusual aromas and enjoy new tastes. If we pay attention, we can feel the energy of the land we walk upon. When we pause to listen, we can sense the spirits of land and place that sometimes cause unexplained memories and emotions to stir inside.
My favorite Celtic bard, John O’Donohue has this to say for the traveler:
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
What is calling you at this time in your life?
What question(s) are working you?
What is waiting to be awakened in your nature?
There are 2 places left on our Ireland trip. Join us if you’re called.