All posts filed under: Pilgrimage

Geography of Awareness

Do you see these “markings” on the back of the fern’s leaves?  In fact, these patterns are spores.  Each one is a potential fern.  The ferns carry their fertility in each and every leaf.  If you are interested in joining a spore exchange group (not kidding), then you might want to look into membership in the Hardy Fern Foundation.  The American Fern Society is over 100 years old and has more than 900 members all over the world. Not only that, but each type of fern has spores that organize in a different pattern. Recently, I have gone on retreat for a few hours a week to the Fern Room at Phipp’s Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Each pilgrimage to this sacred space has brought me to a deeper place of respect for this amazing plant type.  I am also grateful to the amazing Theresa who cares for these plants and seems to have a well of patience for all my questions as well as some of the other horticulturists and care takers who work without …

So Much Feels Arbitrary

It is the first line of a Marge Piercy poem that I think of often, on many days and for many years now since I first read it more than ten years ago when my son was first born. “So much feels arbitrary.” Poem “The Mystery of Survival” in “The Crooked Inheritance” (2006) page 131-133 And yet, I also have it’s equal and opposite thought a great deal of the time.  Generally, a sense that I have on occasion that even the smallest act of kindness means just about everything.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed as a parent that each decision from the smallest “Which toothpaste to buy?” to the larger “Which school should I send my child to?” seems like it could radically shift the tragectory of my child’s life.  In these cases, Marge Piercy’s poem both soothes my sense that every little thing is the most important thing and also terrifies me. Part of what I love about my Pilgrimage Pittsburgh project is that I meet people while I’m walking around.  It’s much easier …

Perspectives on Unity and Karma

Last week, under a news story about some other tragedy, the news source suggested some other stories I might be interested in.  While I don’t usually take these recommendations, as part of my feeble attempt to control the negative media that I permit myself to absorb, this time, the top story caught my interest.  At the Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago, Chile, a young man (a child…really…too young to order a beer in the United States), jumped into the lion enclosure, took off all his clothes and began to taunt the lions by shouting biblical quotes.  They found a suicide note with the man’s clothing and the note was signed, “Jesus”.  In order to save the man, the zoo was forced to shoot and kill the two lions.  The male lion had been born into captivity. The female lion had been rescued from the circus.  And, in that moment, the lives of the man, the lions and the zoo staff and all the children and adults who witnessed the happening unfold came together in a most unexpected …

I Am The Door

Here are two common scenarios for me: Scenario One: A Friend or Client is Stuck This happens to me a lot and I guess it is an “occupational hazard” of sorts, but people come to tell me their stories when they feel stuck.  Many of my clients and students have tried everything, gone to every doctor, had all the tests, done all the treatments and they still don’t have the results they desired or the well-being that they were hoping for. I have friends that tell me about their stuck feelings in jobs, work relationships, personal relationships and just how they feel in their lives at this moment.  In many cases, though not all, a path to freedom seems clear to me, the observer.  When I first started this work, I was so delighted when I saw such a clear path because I assumed that if I could communicate it, then my clients could folllow my vision and get free fast.  But, what I immediately realized is that the clear path has always been present …

Mary of Greenfield

Statues and images of Mother Mary are pervasive in the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Even out on a short 6-block urban walk, I passed many unique images of Mary.  Even if we aren’t out looking for the divine, the presence of this nourishing mother figure impacts our lives in ways we may or may not be aware of.  Regardless of your personal connection to this figure, her presence in this neighborhood impacts the spirit and energy of the community itself.  Intellectually, we may allow ourselves to live such distracted lives that we don’t notice the divine images all around us.  We may think that we are non-believers or non-practitioners and that we need to go to a church or temple or religious center to find the divine, yet even a simple and brief urban walk of a quarter mile results in opportunities to think about the presence of beings more powerful and compassionate than humans.  All we need to do is go out and be a witness to what is perceivable to the eyes.  I …

Public Altar to the Fox

As I was walking in Schenley Park today, I came across this altar under the Panther Hollow Bridge.   This figurine of a red fox was placed in the joist of the bridge creating a public altar to the fox.  The fox brings the animal magic of charm, curiosity and luck—so I thought it was an excellent place to start my new Pilgrimage Pittsburgh project. According to Avia Venefica, the Celts considered the fox to be a guide, honored for his wisdom.  In Japan, the fox is a symbol of longevity and protection from evil. The fox is a phenomenal shapeshifter and incredibly adaptive. The fox encourages us to think outside the box and use our intelligence in different and creative ways.

Space in Hiding

This morning I was drawn to one of my favorite books that I have never actually finished.  This book is about a personal spiritual and geographical adventure, but also about pilgrimage and finding personal truth in something as slippery as space.  In The Heart of the World, Ian Baker introduces (at least, it was new to me!) the Tibetan Buddhist concept of beyul, or hidden lands.  The idea is that through spiritual practices and physical preparations, places on earth that were not immediately open to us, become places we can travel.  These mystical sanctuaries are “hidden” until they are revealed. The implications are so significant, that I fear absolute failure in any attempt I might make to illuminate them through the written word.  But, if you need a mind bending and inspiring book to read this season as the leaves change color and life seems to cycle-down, I recommend this one.  Even if you don’t finish, it will change the way you think about space forever. Posted by Sharon Rudyk, owner and director of YOGA …