It feels like a piece of me is lost Though the picture is fine on the box; But when someone cares enough to put me together They’ll see a piece of me is lost forever. Then every time they look at me The missing piece is all they’ll see
What is a Pilgrimage? It is more than a long walk to an old place! Let’s find out why…
What is a pilgrimage?
To go on a pilgrimage is to travel to a shrine or sacred site, usually completing the final miles on foot. It is to pass along a path to a place of devotional, spiritual significance.
But is that all there is to it? Is the destination the only goal? Is the only motivation simply to arrive?
What about the actual journey?
The pilgrimage IS the journey. It speaks to the pilgrim of who he is, shows him his inner most self. The journey gives the pilgrim the chance to intimately consider his path thus far and to consider and reconsider his next steps. It gives him the space and peace to seek the spiritual nature of life and to commune with it, seeking a deeper understanding of the divine. It allows him to see and accept what is of the soul and what is not – what he can leave along the way.
Writing lines that will never be read,
Words tumbling and jostling around in my head,
A lyric named "what I wish I had said - but I didn't."
Hearing a song that no one will sing,
That elusive tune only silence can bring,
Wishing I'd sung it like a bird on the wing - but I didn't.
Binding a book whose leaves won't be turned,
A story of flying but my feathers got burned,
I should have grown from the lessons I learned - but I didn't.
Painting my life but the bristles have dried,
Safe behind a blank canvas I hide,
Should I have risked some colour before my dreams all died?
Seems I didn't.
Could have told others my story but why would they care
So I've left it all shrouded, only I was there,
Could have put it on Facebook for a like and a share -
But I didn't.
I sang like a bird alone on a cloud,
I read that book but never out loud.
Could have shared my painting with the everyday crowd.
But I didn't .
Parys Mountain in Anglesey, Wales. The remains of a mountain whose innards contained minerals and metals mankind wanted. Her inner beauty lies exposed to the elements.
Overly romantic? Yeah, I know! What can I tell you…I’m a poet!
She stood, proud against the sea blown gales, her heart forged in the melting pot of a chaotic planet. The Mountain. She held secrets, secrets given to her as the world was formed around her. Secrets which rose her head high above the land. Secrets she held inside throughout time, holding them close, guarding them as a mother swaddling her firstborn. Until they came! Until a man dug into her skin and, in that first cut, exposed her riches, her beauty, her secret. She proudly proclaimed "See my wondrous colours! Marvel at my body!" Oh they saw! Then they came... They came in their hundreds. Swarming! Smashing! Destroying! Taking her apart, rock by coloured rock, Digging, boring, scraping, taking - taking - taking. Even as she died, her arteries were alive with the industry of her murderers. Her veins throbbing as they dug and carried her away, Until only a great chasm remained where her heart had been, And she was drawn and quartered for the crime of containing what men wanted. Then sated, they left. And she died again - for they took their beating hearts along with hers. They took their lifeblood along with hers And left her with nothing bar scars, For on her exposed belly, little would grow, little could live. They left her with nothing save the secret which had killed her, The beauty a macabre autumnal shroud - her colours shouting their agony in silence, Screaming their anger voicelessly in the wind. Yet justice will not be hers, For she is no more.
What turns “everyday normal people” into screaming firebrands of pent up energy? What too has the power to split families, create rivalries, draw lines across the country and paint areas, ghetto-like, in one colour? And what gives thousands upon thousands of people intense delight and gut-wrenching frustration on a weekly basis? Lastly, what has created a universal language of comradeship and togetherness which can explode into intense rivalry and mutual hatred without the need for actual words?
There are two types of people in this world – football fans and others.
Modern man’s tribal bonding; the display of club colours, the chanting, the imbibing of alcohol and more alcohol, the mass hysteria, the rituals. By rebooting our ancestral roots, football resurrects the caveman still dwelling within us – and awakens his fears! Standing as one beside the fire amongst many like-minded fellows was to survive. Repelling one’s enemies with a group display of aggression – to appear to be the bigger “monster” – was to be safe. To lose the fight, to suffer humiliation, to be second best, was to die. That is football too! The terraces replicate the hunting grounds we thought we had left behind in our evolutionary journey. Maybe we have not evolved very much at all.
Having spent time sitting contemplating the sheer magnificence of mountains, I was left wondering what it is about them that calls mankind towards them in worship. Why do we feel the need to draw and paint them, to write poetry and songs proclaiming their magnificence. Why do we struggle up the ascents simply to slide down again? These geological accidents, caused by chaos and upheaval, inspire more than misty-eyed art; they evoke deep thoughts of inner and outer strength, of perseverance and permanence, of life – and death. They call to us and we come, spellbound, to their feet – often with the greedy intention of conquering the stoney slopes to sit at the crown, just beneath the sky. As if any man could ever conquer such a creation! We stand atop, having dragged our puny, time-limited bodies towards the stars across terrain we were not meant to step upon, and call to the world that we are conquerors. He who has climbed above others rules the world, he shouts. But does the mighty hill bow down to its master? Does it submit, subjugated to our command? It does not. It never will.
Mountains are the guide to many meditations in our quest for peace and enlightenment – we raise our vibrations to the heights, we slow our thoughts to resonate with the solid, cold rocks, we diminish the ego in the face of these massive natural creations. We see the peaks reach up towards the heat of the sun with worn fingers and imagine that we can do likewise. We allow our insignificant concerns to billow away on clouds which cover and reveal the summits according to the whims of the breeze. We wonder at what it has witnessed, the changes it has seen. Does the master meditator need to ascend the mountain to absorb its deep wisdom? Ask the mountain…it will consider for many lifetimes and reply still in silence: it cares not! And that answer teaches us what we desire to learn. The mountain has long since been there, it is only there and will be nowhere else. Risen by violence, it is the peace that remained. It does not have to struggle and strive. It has no questions. It has achieved what we seek; the mountain just is.
Natural beauty is disregarded in our world. We favour the plastic, the gaudy, the false. If anything, natural beauty is a disadvantage. It leads to being overrun with tourists or shot.
North Repps, North Norfolk.
Hidden in the comfort of our metal gypsy wagon, I watch a beautiful pair of pheasants pick their way towards me around the sympathetically camouflaged green painted toilets. Stunningly marked, such creatures are better enjoyed thus – still wearing their feathers. It saddens me that this brace, these comrades without arms, are seen as sporting targets by those who seem to have lost touch with the idea of a level playing field.
It saddens me to have to accept the guilt-edged suspicion that my enjoyment of wooded copses, stands of peace amongst industrialised fields, relies on the ritual sacrifice of these beautiful birds.
No sport, no trees? There would be no need to maintain the beautiful little copses which pepper our countryside.
Stand and stare at them one day. Really look! The intricacy of their markings belies belief. Such beauty! And mankind in our civilised way simply sees a plaything – something which cannot hit back.
In penning the description “comrades without arms“, I had watched the pair walking and pecking gracefully. Only the odd flutter of feather ruffled them as the breeze momentarily disturbed their balance.
I wondered ” how do they manage without arms and hands”.
It hit me with a smile of embarrassment that the birds, seeing humans, would wonder what we had done to offend God so greatly that He had taken away our wings.
Maybe God is not a “sportsman” either. He keeps the playing field level.