Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pilgrims Travel Light...

Packing, packing, packing….it seems that if I am not packing, I am unpacking. In retrospect, the spaces between packing and unpacking and packing again are very brief.

Since I married my high school sweetheart back in 1971 (see photo, circa 1971), we have been (happily) on the move. We have alternately followed orders and followed our hearts. Years with the US Air Force (his 7 year tenure and then my 22 year career, when he played Mr. Mom and I was the Sergeant) took us so many places here and abroad. And there was our Peace Corps adventure in Ukraine. The move behind our current situation, working and house-sitting in sunny Santa Fe, is the result of accepting AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps*VISTA positions.

All in all, there are about 30 changes of residence over the past 35 years. (That explains why I frequently am at a loss when people ask for my phone number or home address!)

I laugh a bit whenever my sweet spouse talks of putting down roots somewhere. It sounds lovely, but I am not sure it will happen by choice. I think it may end up being a default situation where we simply stop…like the old pioneers who just stopped somewhere on their way west, crossing the vast, beautiful Great Plains of the USA.

Soon we will be packing again. Moving on to new jobs and new digs. Too soon to say when or where, but soon, no doubt.

In between our household moves there are travels which require planning, packing and loading. What is more fun than a road trip? We have been known to drive 500 miles (each way) over a weekend to ease cabin-fever in the great white north or to attend a party with old friends or to attend a Renaissance Faire or the Macy's Day or Rose Bowl Parades. Sometimes the family calls and sometimes the need for familiar faces pushes us into the car. And there is camping; escaping the phone, television, household chores for time outdoors relaxing in a hammock. And hiking up and down mountains in Malawi or exploring in Morocco.

And there is business travel too. One year in Spain, I travelled for the USAF almost 250 days to about ten different sites in several different countries. I came home weekend to wash my clothes and flew out again the next day. During one of those trips, our lease expired so my husband and son packed up our possessions and moved us to a new nest in a different town. When I came home to a place I’d never been before I felt a little like a visitor rather than the lady of the house!

My frequent moves have taught me to have confidence in this big old world and the people in it. No matter where we are, we find what we need. We find new friend and continue to cherish the old ones. We learn more about ourselves and our interests. We take risks and are rewarded with answers and successes. (There are occasional bruises, but they are good for the ego and keep people humble too…and taking the risk keeps us from wondering “what if?” and the feeling of bitterness that often comes when dreams are not put to the test.)

All this moving is kind of a dance of gratitude, a demonstration of faith, an awareness of abundance, a willingness to follow. It involves the courage to let go…to let go of things and ideas. It is an opportunity to trust as a little child.

I feel awareness, I see with new eyes…I assess what it is I value. All the beautiful lessons of life spill out like diamonds and rubies.

What has all this to do with my upcoming Camino? Not much really.

But as my departure date draws closer, the adrenaline begins to surface. I spend my time packing and unpacking. It feels good.

My tiny backpack (31 liters/22 ounces empty) will be home for the 40 days I plan to spend walking across northern Spain.

A pilgrim, by nature travels light.

And they carry all their riches, all that is important, in their hearts, not in their packs.

Life is good…


CarolineMathieson said...

I've been a nomad all my life and never spent more than a year or two at each address. My mum has an address book just for my old addresses and phone numbers. Just as well my mobile number hasn't changed in years until recently.

However 3.5 years ago something changed inside me and I settled down into the flat I am in now with my partner. I have been here 4 years now and that's a record for me. I hope to still be here in another 4 years.

sagalouts said...

we are hooked looking forward to following your camino.
Ian and Rosie

Caminante said...

I am so uplifted by your postings. And I so wish I, too, were getting ready to carry my house on my back as you soon shall be.

For the record, I have only lived in ten or so places... but there was a summer when I moved every two weeks which was confusing.

Virginia said...

Caroline - I wonder if I will have a sudden change...?

Caminante - I like your choice of word. "Uplifted" has a nice quality about it.

I enjoy getting feedback, espcially from veteran Camino-Heads (a phrase I "stole" from Rebbekah Scott!

In Santa Fe Where Rain is Turning into Snow!

Luiza said...

Your backpack looks good Ginn but as Caroline wrote, it looks small. That is good though, then you cannot carry too much. You are really good going for your backpack walks and you will miss your dog in Spain. I must admit that I have never done walked with my pack before any of my walks.

I too have moved many times. I have lived in four countries: Australia, USA, Britain, and Brazil. Changed cities within those countries and each move has helped me grow spiritually. Of course now my dream is to live in Spain, along the camino. Dream Big!

Virginia said...

Yes, Luiza, my tiny pack is a mixed-blessing..I am sure it will be fine. I imagine the pilgrims of yester-year...they travelled with very little...their expectations were modest. I have an opportunity to be a bit like them.

I really will miss my sweetie-dog...she will miss me too. Sigh.

My BIG DREAM???? My spouse and I want to own a campground - a rather elite campground for teneters and readers...more on that in future posts no doubt. We have a vision...maybe it could happen in Spain...We shall see!

Buen Camino - you (Luiza) are off to Spain manana! Blessings of joy!

Happpy for a Snow-Day in Santa Fe