A Pilgrimage Of Gratitude

“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don't even understand the language the people speak. So you are just like a child out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends on them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations and you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of  your life. At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive…” Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

I’m writing my newsletter this month from the Andes. Abby and I have rented a small casita in Pisac, Peru. Our cabin overlooks Intihuatana, a sacred mountain with ancient ruins dating back to pre-Inca time. There are enormous eucalyptus trees outside our windows, flowers of all sorts growing wild and free and even Llamas grazing nearby. This area where we have been staying for the past 5 weeks is aptly named “the sacred valley.” I return home in 2 more weeks. But time seems to be a bit less than linear here. And as the days pass, I realize I’ve left my old comfort zone behind and emerged into a slightly new way of being. This new way of negotiating time has approached me quite slowly. The change I feel has been steady, creeping up like an incoming tide that has overtaken my beach towel. Suddenly things feel different to me. That’s the thing about travel, it’s like a steady and constant confrontation; and all of your old ways of doing things get a good, consistent poke. So, with all this poking and prodding, I’ve begun to notice more around me. I’ve been stopping and listening and looking more. And, in this, I’ve been able to see the world around me, my world, open up to me and unfold in a way that seems to pass me by at home. 

I watched the sunrise the other morning and it was absolutely breathtaking. Having lived in Key West since 1998, I’m no stranger to beautiful sunrises and sunsets. However this one particular morning I was up well before dawn. I was standing in the field of a nearby hacienda shivering in the cold that is prevalent here just before dawn. This property bordered an enormous mountain range. In fact, there were mountains on 3 sides of me. As dawn approached, the night sky began to lighten, Suddenly, as if someone was working a dimmer light-switch, the morning light rose steadily over the mountains. It was so beautiful, so incredibly consistent and so very new all at the same time that I was moved to tears. I saw a condor fly high up to the very top of one of the mountains. Where the other two mountains connected, they created a kind of valley between them, like a river of light, the morning sun seeped slowly and consistently into my little field. In fact, all around me was so much beauty, so much of everything that all I could feel was gratitude. I was so happy for the sun, our star that warms our bodies, makes our crops grow and is the sole reason we can live on this amazing planet. I laughed at myself as I thought, “Does this happen every day?!” This sunrise did feel and look like a miracle to me. I began to cry tears of gratitude as I thought, I’m going to live another day…because of this magnificent earth I live on, and because the sun will rise today, I’m going to live! I was flooded with appreciation and began to wonder “how”. How can I take so much of all the beauty that surrounds me everyday for granted? My life is so interdependent on everything around me. I don’t just get up and go. I’m allowed to live, because of the earth, the air, the sun, the water….so very many factors allow my life to continue. When I sat with this information, this day in the field, with the condor flying overhead and the sun coming up to offer us all another day, I really wondered: 

What is in my way of feeling this feeling of interconnected gratitude and appreciation for my life more often?

 I realized then that, for me, part of the way I stay out of my gratitude-filled heart is by distractions and busy work. Here, where I am in Peru, there are no airplanes flying over head. And we don’t have internet in our cabin. In fact, the ringers on our phones are shut off and we have to go somewhere to check emails. It’s kind of a big process actually. I have to charge up my phone, layer up with lots of clothes and walk somewhere that has internet. At home, I can check my emails anytime…and I do. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to say, I’ll be in the middle of a conversation with Abby and say, “Hang on babe, I just need to check one thing.” It seems at home, the work never stops. There’s internet, Facebook, email and texting. Thanks to technology, I can be in constant communication with the world around me. But I’ve begun to wonder, does this constant outer communication, disconnect me from my inner communication with my heart? Technology is wonderful and certainly not to blame. I’m not to blame either, I’m just learning to remember to stay in my heart. And, when I check emails or texts or am still working at 9:00 p.m. at night, its up to me to remember I’m choosing to do this and if I choose to do something, I’d like to choose to do it with a heart-felt awareness. And if I can’t do it, whatever it is, with a heart-felt awareness, then it’s time to stop. 

 This month I’d like to ask you:

 What are you truly grateful for in your life?

What in your life keeps you from feeling this gratitude?

When was the last time you experienced some part of your life as completely new?

 It’s about slowing down and allowing yourself to see through the eyes of your heart. Our hearts are absolutely all that we need to negotiate this life. I’ve had plenty of opportunities on this trip to go into fear, and I have done so many times. But each time, I’ve heard from my heart. Sometimes it’s kind of a faint, far away voice, other times it’s loud and clear as it says, “Angie, I’m all the protection you will ever need.” I remember when I was learning to do the work that I do now with people, I was taught how to put up psychic protection. I’m glad they taught me those techniques as they were invaluable to me at the time. However, now, I realize that all I ever need, psychically or otherwise, is to send one beautiful heart-stream of love and compassion to myself and others and I am as safe and protected as I could ever be. 

So many “things” in life can get us into our hearts. For me, often it’s nature or people. I can be sitting and watching a hummingbird or a sunset or just staring at a big, beautiful tree and I begin to feel connected and it’s this feeling of being connected to all that is around me that allows my heart to open. I really take a lot of comfort in the fact that I am not separate from all this natural beauty that surrounds me every day. Sometimes I can be out walking to a restaurant and see a stranger smile at me and say hello…I feel immediately connected to them, not separate at all, and my heart lights up. Often times I look at Abby and feel the love I have for her and I am reminded of how much love I have in me, for me and for the world around me and I’m again filled with gratitude. 

 It’s really about choosing to be in our hearts. Old patterns come with us into this life. When we are conceived these old patterns come with us down the light waterfall and into our bodies, carried by us in our karmic backpacks. These patterns and ways of being are specific to each one of us and to our growth. But, to me, enlightenment is when we realize we have these patterns and we honor them because they are ours and then we “change” them. 

Identifying old patterns that keep us from our hearts is all about:

Seeing them
Accepting them
And Changing them

 I remember I used to be really afraid of my dark. I was never able to accept it or love it. I just wanted these dark spaces in me to go away. Whether they were emotions, thoughts or energies, I wanted to clear them immediately. In fact, because I could literally “see” them, I was prompted, through fear, to learn how to “clear” them. So, I guess you could say that I learned to do the work I do now because of fear. But, what I’m realizing now is that this fear I had for so many years was a natural propellant to get me, eventually, into my heart. Like I said earlier, now I “clear and heal” both my energy field and others energy fields through love. Love of the dark, love of pain and love and compassion for suffering. But I can’t do it without an open heart. Loving your dark spaces is really essential to transforming them. Seeing what needs to change, no matter how unsavory or dark it may be is one thing. Accepting it is another. But the change can only come from love; from a heart-felt gratitude and acceptance for all that is you.

 May your heart open and pour out into all that is your life and, as always, May all beings benefit!
Sweet Blessings,