Sacred Journeys, Near and Far (beginning with Wild starring Reese Witherspoon)–Guest post by Lori Erikson, aka The Holy Rover

This wonderful post by one of my favorite bloggers begins with a review of the Reese Witherspoon film, Wild, leading into a longing that has been planted within all of us from the day of our birth. No matter how much the observance of organized religion may be declining, the hunger for true spiritual connection continues to grow. In the end that hunger can be satisfied, yes, even within organized religion for within that structure, one finds accountability, community and the comfort that ritual provides (and that we all seek).

from Spiritual Travels
“Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon; from Spiritual Travels

Now that the holiday season is past, I’m back to Rovering again here at the Holy Rover. But even during my break away from writing, the theme of pilgrimage kept coming up. Today, near the beginning of this new year, I want to share some of those gleanings.

The first is the Reese Witherspoon movie Wild. I’ve been a bad girl, I’m afraid, and didn’t read the book first, but I loved the movie. It’s based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, in which she recounts her 1,100-mile walk on the Pacific Crest Trail. She is perhaps the most woefully underprepared hiker ever to complete this challenging route (the scenes with her ridiculously heavy backpack are worth the price of the movie). But as the film went on, it became increasingly obvious to me that she was on a pilgrimage. I don’t think the word was ever used specifically, but her journey had all the hallmarks: the seeking after meaning, the desperate need to recover from trauma and heartache, and the healing that slowly happened because of the journey. It’s a splendid film, one I highly recommend …

… I especially like what [Bruce] Feiler has to say about the need to be active in one’s spiritual life: “So much of religion as it’s been practiced for centuries has been largely passive. People receive a faith from their parents; they are herded into institutions they have no role in choosing; they spend much of their spiritual lives sitting inactively in buildings being lectured at from on high….

Read the rest of this post on Spiritual Travels.

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Memories … and then … Encountering the complex Native American spirituality at Mesa Verde

This is a reblog of one of my favorite sites, The Holy Rover blog by Lori Erikson. When I saw that her latest post was about Mesa Verde, I experienced a wave of nostalgia that made me smile. I saw this fascinating place when I was about nine but did not get out of it what I was supposed to.

Mesa Verde in July of 1965, from the family photo album
Mesa Verde in July of 1965, from the family photo album

We were traveling out West as a family and visited California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado; Mesa Verde is in Colorado. It is here that ruins were found of cliff-dwelling Indians. It’s truly a fascinating place which you will see in Lori’s blog. I had to share my little vignette though before sharing her post.

In the museum at Mesa Verde, there was a mummy on display named Esther; she was 1500 years old. I was nine at the time and was petrified when I saw her! That night when we all went to bed, my older sister and I argued about who had to sleep on the side of the bed facing the wall. I didn’t want to sleep there because I knew I’d see Esther on that wall all night long!

Guess who ended up facing the wall? Older sisters always prevail (turns out Esther freaked my older sister too and she didn’t want to face the wall. And she was always the brave one!). The next day I came down with the grip, the worst I’d ever had.

So the mention of Mesa Verde always brought up an assortment of memories which I now think are kind of funny. 🙂 It’s good to see what Mesa Verde is REALLY all about!

Amid the Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde

In my travels around the world I’ve learned that most spiritual sites have layers upon layers of history, meaning and mystery. Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado may be the best example I’ve encountered of just how complicated the intertwining of those layers can be.

Mesa Verde; photo by Bob Sessions

When I was planning my visit, I contacted the park staff to say that I was a writer interested in learning about the spiritual traditions of Mesa Verde. I got a diplomatically worded reply, telling me in the nicest possible way that I had no idea just how difficult that seemingly simple request was.

The staff at the national park has good reason to be wary of the minefields of interpretation that exist at Mesa Verde. The people who once lived there left no written records. The Indian tribes that trace their ancestry to them are fiercely protective of their own spiritual traditions, many of which derive from what was once practiced at Mesa Verde. And so when clueless travel writers like myself arrive full of questions, there’s an understandable reluctance to be too speculative in their theorizing.

Click here to continue reading.

Guest post from The Holy Rover: With Hildegard in Bingen – 12th century mystic and woman of extraordinary accomplishments

I have been dying to do a post on Hildegard von Bingen since I saw a wonderful movie on her life called Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen. If you click on the link you can see a trailer and read some reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. It does have subtitles but I had no trouble following it.

Lori Erickson, aka The Holy Rover, has just posted a wonderful article on Hildegard. Hildegard was a true Renaissance woman: 12th-century mystic, writer, composer, counselor, leader, the list goes on and on. She is a saint and Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church.

Here’s a portion of Lori’s article – follow the link to see the rest and the great pictures her husband Bob provided of their visit to Bingen:

hildegard von bingen
Mural of Hildegard from the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard near Bingen (Bob Sessions photo)

If Hildegard of Bingen had a resume (unusual for a 12th-century mystic, I admit, but humor me) it would have been many pages long. She was an abbess, healer, writer, musician, visionary, counselor, preacher, linguist, naturalist, poet and an adviser to kings, bishops and princes. She wrote more than 70 liturgical songs, the first sung play, and books on theology, medicine, diet and natural history. All the while she kept up a voluminous correspondence with people in and out of the church, leading one scholar to dub her the “Dear Abby of the 12th century.”

If I could invite a handful of people from history for dinner at my house, Hildegard would be among them—though I suspect she would likely dominate the conversation so much that the other guests would be intimidated.

Click here to read the rest and see the photos.

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