Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. While I am not a 'practicing' Catholic, my spiritual roots are firmly planted in the soil of my past experiences. The comfort of ritual, of finding meaning in the calendar dates, of wanting to mark the passage of significant events with a ritual, runs deep.
Today, I begin a 40 day online pilgrimage with Abbey of the Arts -- Soul of a Pilgrim.
To prepare for the journey of the Soul of a Pilgrim retreat, we are invited to look around and lighten our beings of unnecessary baggage. Pilgrims, don't want to be weighed down by unnecessary things coaches Abbey Abbess, Christine Valters Paintner, OblSB, PhD, REACE. In our study notes Christine writes, "Consider the things in your life and perhaps during Lent make a commitment to give away something each week, whether it is clothing to your local Goodwill, or books to the library, or maybe there are larger things in your life that require too much energy to sustain anymore. Then broaden your vision for what you carry and imagine what kinds of attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and stories you tell about yourself that you could let go of."
On Monday, I found an envelope stuffed in a file filled with cards I had received many years ago from Conrad, the man who promised to love me 'til death do us part and thought the death part should come sooner, rather than later. I had kept those cards all these years and, while they were beneficial in writing my book, The Dandelion Spirit, and in the production of the documentary based on the book, they serve no purpose today.
Last night, under the light of the new moon, I cut up the cards into small little pieces and burned them. As I watched the flames I imagined each spark flying free, up into the atmosphere, high into the spirit's realm where light lives in the collective soul of all humankind. I imagined that light flowing through my body, spilling out all around me, and I felt peace, freedom, joy.
It was powerful.
This morning, I feel lighter. I feel unburdened, ready to take on this pilgrimage into my creative soul, ready to journey into the wilderness seeking to heed the call the course invites each pilgrim follow so that we may --
“Return to me with your whole heart.”
---Joel 2:12 (from the reading for Ash Wednesday)
Years ago, I set off onto a journey into the darkness. I am grateful it has lead me to the light of this moment, this day, this time when I can stand illuminated in Love, knowing within my heart, all is well with my soul.
Today, I stand at the edge of the desert, my being unburdened by unnecessary flotsam of the past, ready to take the next step forward into the light.
May your journey today be filled with light. May your heart be light in the knowing, you are loved.