I found this portion of Mark Nepo’s book in a collection of material I received when I participated in a Courage to Teach retreat series. I am finding the poem and essay helpful for the way I want to experience my OLW (pilgrim) this year.
Being a Pilgrim
To journey without being changed
is to be a nomad.
To change without journeying
is to be a chameleon.
To journey and to be transformed
by the journey
is to be a pilgrim.
“We all start out as pilgrims, wanting to journey and hoping to be transformed by the journey. But, just as it is impossible when listening to an orchestra to hear the whole of the symphony for very long before we are drawn to hear only the piano or the violin, in just this way, our attention to life slips and we experience people and places without being affected by their wholeness. And sometimes, feeling isolated and unsure, we change or hide what lives within in order to please or avoid other.
The value of this insight is not to use it to judge or berate ourselves, but to help one another see that integrity is an unending process of letting our inner experience and outer experience complete each other, in spite of our very human lapses.
I understand these things so well, because I violate them so often. Yet, I, as you, consider myself a pilgrim of the deepest kind, journeying beyond any one creed or tradition, into the compelling recurring space in which we know the moment and are changed by it. Mysteriously as elusive as it is, this moment – where the eye is what it sees, where the heart is what it feels – this moment shows us that what is real is sacred.”
The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, pp. 34-5