Tuesday, July 29, 2008

taking leaps and making pilgrimages

The insects are singing loudly almost around the clock here, and looking at the weather forecast it seems we're notching up heat-wise over the next five days. It's been so nice this past few weeks. I hope we escape the extremes we had last summer.

Yesterday morning while awaiting the trimmer, Keil Bay was exercising in the arena and reportedly cantered a small jump - unfortunately I missed it, but was excited to hear that he is feeling so good. He's been jumped under saddle just a little, and he enjoys popping over small obstacles on the trail. I've seen him gallop over small log jumps in our field, between two trees, as though the logs were huge cross-country jumps. And he did it beautifully. But I've never seen him choose to take a jump in the arena, in play. A great sign that these herbs are working, and a great message for all of us. When we take care of our horses, they surprise us. When we take care of ourselves, those leaps come easily and with a sense of joy.


I was reading this morning about pilgrimages and sacred journeys in Wales and Scotland. It would be fun to pack a bag and set forth on one of those during this hot weather, and I read the tips for making a sacred journey as though I might be doing just that.

(photo courtesy of my husband and his brilliant landscapes)

I realized suddenly that I don't need a passport or a trip to Scotland to make a pilgrimage. The tips are good for our daily journeys as well: to the barn, out for errands, editing a manuscript, anything we do in our day's work and play.

Pack lightly.

I used to take everything but the kitchen sink when we went on vacation, but over the years I have found it easier and better to travel light. This is true even when I head to the barn in our backyard. Some days I walk out with camera, water, hat, etc., not to mention bringing the "stuff" I've been pondering along with me. Fortunately the horses are masters of traveling lightly, so they encourage the shedding of all this baggage.

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

A good tip for every occasion. Lately the most comfortable attire for me is a pair of riding breeches, a soft shirt, and my Ariat boots. I've also been feeling quite comfortable in very baggy jeans, T-shirt, and work boots. If I'm dressed for comfort I always end up staying longer in the moment and thus get more out of that little journey.

Be prepared to get dirt in your sandals.

I wonder about healthy people who avoid the heat, or the humidity, or the bugs, or just plain sweat and dirt and grime. If I could stay clean without compromising the experience of being out and about, I would, but there is something therapeutic about sweat and dirt. Dig in and enjoy it.

Less is more.

This is a good tip for me to remember. I often try to do too much, wherever it is I am. Picking a few things and doing them well, enjoying them to the fullest, is the best way. I'm learning!

Let go of expectations.

Staying open to the possibilities, seeing the magic when it happens. This is an art and a gift, and any pilgrimage is enhanced by the willingness to be amazed.

Embrace your shadow.

This is another big one for me. Allow the delays and inconveniences to be part of the magic. Some days I can do it well. Other days not at all. But it bears remembering, and I try to take deep breaths and remind myself that it's all part of the journey.

And in fact, these days, most of my pilgrimages originate from my own back door.

Be thou a smooth way before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a keen eye behind me,
This day, this night, forever.

-Scottish journey prayer


the7msn said...

Such good advice. There's no place like home...there's no place like home...

billie said...

Linda, yes, (heels clicking together three times) I totally agree.

Victoria Cummings said...

Lovely post, lovely prayer - I have an award waiting for you at my place.

Grey Horse Matters said...

What a thoughtful post, with something for everyone to take on their pilgrimage through each day.
Wonderful about Keil Bay, it's fun to see them enjoying themselves, isn't it? We have a few who enjoy jumping small jumps on their own when they are out at play. We also have one who likes to dismantle them, but that's another story.

billie said...

Thank you, Victoria - I appreciate your words AND the award!

billie said...

Arlene, I love seeing them play. Cody and the pony will often take the jumps when in the arena on their own, but Keil hasn't, and it was such fun to hear that he "cut loose" that way. :)

I'm intrigued with the one who dismantles them!

Matthew said...

Just beautiful writing and wonderfully documented with the photos. And the suggestions are right on. . .

A true pleasure to read this entry!

billie said...

Thanks, Matthew, for the kind words AND for not getting upset that I shamelessly stole your photograph! :)