In Community With All Living Things

Today’s post is by Wendy Adams

“Oh Great Spirit,

Land and Sky and Sea

You are inside, and all around me.”

Some of my fondest spiritual experiences have happened while I was on a retreat or pilgrimage. It is no coincidence that I need time away from my busy routine. I have to set aside the demands of work and family in order to go deeper in my relationship with the Holy and to move forward in my understanding of the Spirit’s desires for me and my life. So every few years I look for opportunities to go deeper.

The Shalem pilgrimages have been on my radar for some time, as they offer the kinds of experiences I was looking for, but overseas travel was something that I was not yet able to commit to. So it felt like a special gift when I discovered the debut “Uniting with Earth’s Rhythm’s: A Pilgrimage in the Pacific Northwest” in the fall of 2016.

Eighteen pilgrims met at Sea-Tac airport where we boarded a coach for the Olympic Peninsula. I immediately felt at home with this kindhearted group of mature men and women who were also looking for spiritual experiences in a new land.

The theme for our week together was “Uniting with Earth’s Rhythms.” Our focus was the gifts of Land, Sea and Sky. Each day we meditated on a theme: the reciprocity of the land, the abundance of the sea and the illumination of the sky. Our knowledgeable leaders, Jamie and Leah, introduced the intention of our time together:

Being one with Spirit’s unfolding,

we pause in community with all living things,

and listen to earth’s rhythm,

uniting our hearts with all creation and

opening to the invitation for what is ours to do.

Meeting other pilgrims is always a great blessing of these trips. Each day we spent some time in a small group called a “pilgrim circle” where we were free to share the things that were emerging in our hearts. These circles created safe places where healing and wholeness could emerge. We had a lot of fun together, too. Friendships blossomed while sharing meals, taking walks or making art.

This pilgrimage had ample time for meditation in a variety of settings. We would journey to a remote location, begin in a circle with prayer, and then move silently across the land. We walked through forests to waterfalls, along sand spits, beside roaring streams and receding tides. At the beach, I watched as fog rolled across the bay and earth and sea were obscured by sky. As we passed the autumnal equinox, the Dungeness Bay teemed with life: all the little creatures made me laugh with delight. Insects brought the fish leaping into the air. Clams spit on my ankles, crabs scampered sideways along the sand. Otters floated by with only their face and hands visible above the water; coots paddled silently. Stately heron, busy gull, majestic eagle, dapper mergansers — all celebrated the day with me.

We made new friends from the S’Klallum Jamestown and S’Klallum Elwah tribes as we explored their ancestral territories. We learned a lot from their stories and culture, and celebrated their ecological victories with them as they work to restore the nearshore habitat and heal the Earth from human destruction.

At Ruby Beach, I sat beside a fresh water tributary that babbled and sang. Towering rocks emerged on the beach as though the receding tide were Michelangelo sculpting a masterpiece. The gentle sun shone with rainbow rays, painting the sky with pastels, blues, purples, whites. I could see a long, long way out across the Pacific Ocean. I was indeed one with the land and sky and sea. In that moment, I delighted in being there, not as a tourist, but as something more—a pilgrim.

Want to experience this connection to all of life? Consider joining Attuning to Ebb and Flow: An Earth Pilgrimage in the Pacific Northwest, happening September 21-28 this fall! Click here for more information.

June 06, 2017 by Wendy Adams
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