In 2007 my sweet mother and I went on a cruise of the Irish Sea, zigzagging from Ireland to Wales and Scotland. It was the last big trip she took and it was so very special for both of us. We actually took her wheelchair with us because she did not walk distances at that time in her life, aged 89. However, with the increased activity she became stronger and took to wheeling her wheelchair in front of her on flat surfaces, which I found adorable. Above is a photo of her at Carnarvon Castle in Northern Wales. This last summer I returned to Wales and Carnarvon Castle. It was so poignant to see that same patch of lawn where Mom had been the last time I was there; the photo of the empty grass is above. I had anticipated this moment and was prepared with a few of Mom’s ashes, which I sprinkled right where she had walked. The overflowing gratitude in my heart for Mom, for our time together, and my ability to still travel burst forth. This was a very special return to what is, for me, a sacred spot.
I actually have lost track of how many times I have been to Stonehenge, each time coming close among the stones, due to special scheduling with the Historical Society. Our group is always less than 25, which I believe is their limit for a private visit. Each time the weather is different and the light is different and so the stones are very different. (See the photos above.) Each time I visit, I deepen my experience of this amazing site and have a deeper connection with those who built it. It is so much a part of my life, and that of my daughter, who is pictured above on a rainy Stonehenge visit, that I texted her just this week about some major dentistry for me, texting, “Big dental thingy now…the surgery to plant the post, (Sounds like Stonehenge construction.)” To which she immediately responded, “Yeah! Channel the ancestors.” Obviously, Stonehenge lives in both of us now.
A sacred site often looks very ordinary: a mound of earth, a pile of rocks, a piece of ruined church, a working well, where village people come to take water. The idea that one will receive a mystical experience at such a place seems farfetched. There is, however, the notion of “the spirit of a place,” which, in my experience, reveals itself more and more as we return. It is as if we create a relationship with the spirit of the place and we receive the benefits of that relationship as we participate in “getting together.” This photo of the Bell Tower on Glastonbury Tor was taken during my fourth visit to that site. There had been a quick ferocious rainstorm that swept through. Too many of us sought shelter in the Bell Tower, which was useless since the top is open to the sky. As the rain and wind pelted us a fellow with a penny whistle began to play. The sweet music mingled with the magic of the site to create a luminous moment that deepened my relationship to that site forevermore. I felt the sacred in that rain storm as surely as an angel hovering over me.
So, my Dears, I hope you think about returning to those sacred places that you love and I hope you return with me. Trips for spring and summer 2015 are on the Tours Page.