“The idea of the pilgrimage was to get away from the endless and nameless circumstances of everyday existence, which by degrees build a wall around the mind so that it travels in a constantly narrowing circle.” – Richard Jeffries
“For pilgrims, traveling is a spiritual practice to access places of higher meaning.” – Brooke Williams
I believe this is, in part, why Isabella sets off again and again on pilgrimage of one sort or another, to keep mind and heart in discovery and wide open.
At home under “shelter-in-place” orders, we are particularly vulnerable to narrowing of the mind. So Saturday morning my husband and I set out to wander the Princeton University campus, without destination or agenda other than exploration. We found American beech, ash, London plane, yew, false cypress and also redwood (REDWOOD!) We came upon witch hazel that had dropped its dried witchy flowers in replace of new buds… wild reflections in old paned windows… statues and architectural features… garden nooks and crannies… a bronze cast, both human and coral and also not those things. Who were the people behind the design and landscaping and sculpture? Where are they now and, for those of our time, how are they suffering this current swell? Questions. Curiosities. We walked slowly home afterward, in light rain, feeling different than when we left the house in a quiet inexplicable way.
Go out, even if on pilgrimage around the block or around your home. See what you haven’t seen before. Wander. Wonder. Open.
Be a pilgrim in your own backyard.
Jessica Stevens (writing mindfulness for Isabella)