We Are All Just Walking Each Other Home

We are all just walking each other home,”  Ram Dass [2]

This pathway and vista off into the distance offer an image of the Pilgrimage of Compostela, which in English is the Way of St James.    A network of paths or pilgrim ways leads to the shine of the Apostle St. James the Great, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.    Along with Jerusalem and Rome, the route along the Camino de Santiago is known as one of the three great pilgrimages of Christendom.

Wrote the spiritual teacher and author, Ram Dass, “We are all just walking each other home.”   While all of us are on a spiritual journey, Dass perceived that each of us (whether consciously or not) is on a path leading us back to our source.   Wrote another, “Even if you do not believe in life as a spiritual journey or take solace in the notion of an afterlife, the concept of walking each other home is important.   It’s what holds us together.” [3]

Emerging from the isolation of a two-plus-year pandemic, compounded by economic uncertainty, political unrest, unleashed aggression, and the unraveling of our planetary home, is it possible to hold one’s self together?  Or, as evidenced by the centuries-old practice of pilgrimage and communicated by spiritual teachers, writers, and poets, we’re not meant to take all this in alone.   What if instead, despite the brevity of our lives and the frailty of creation, we’re summoned to accompany each other on life’s way, bringing out the best in one another while doing all that we can in the time given us?

Prayer: Divine Maker, In the wake of so much loneliness and despair, open our eyes to see others on the road before, alongside, and behind us.    Teach us that holiness (wholeness) was never intended a private, super-religious affair but one that asks that we look to the welfare of the other….wherever on the journey they may be.  Remind us, that we are all just walking each other home.   We ask this in all the holy names of God.  Amen.

[1]  Photo courtesy of Patrick Mills.  The photo was taken on June 5, 2017, near O Pino, Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

[2] Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush, Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying, September 2018

[3] Carol Cassandra, https://sixtyandme.com/how-life-is-a-journey-of-just-walking-each-other-home/, adapted

A Doorway into Thanks

“It doesn’t have to be the blue iris,
it could be weeds in a vacant lot or a few small stones;
just pay attention…” Mary Oliver 

In her poem, Praying, Mary Oliver gives credence to the power of paying attention, particularly when what is immediately before us doesn’t merit it.  But what our preoccupation is in itself the problem?   What if our vexation and distress, however understandable, hinders rather than helps our capacity to see?

Though family, friends, colleagues, store clerks, and the postal carrier, may have all been wished a Happy New Year, have you pondered how auspicious 2022 will be…if at all?    With real threats to our democracy, unabated natural disasters, and escalating planetary temperatures, is it possible to carry on when hearts are breaking?   Can one hope to perceive anew when so much we had once counted on, appears lost?

In the wake of all our losses, the poet replies, “[Your reclamation] doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot.”  Indeed, when it comes to recalibrating and restoring our vision, Oliver describes prayer, not as an obscure doctrinal obligation but holy discovery.  Where thanksgiving conjoins with silence, and senses become attuned to a deeper and more vibrant frequency.

Concerning prayer, Oliver writes,

“[…just] patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.” [1]

In these waning days of Christmas and as we stand on the threshold of a New Year, may even the simple and mundane usher us into thankfulness and silence, so that shattered hearts may be restored in your divine likeness once again.  Amen.

[1] Mary Oliver, from her book, Thirst

 

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