My friend Martha has given me that title or theme for the journey ahead. I think of another title right now as well, which was used for a panel at the Cascadia Poetry Festival: The Ground is Always Shifting.

There are outer journeys to sacred sites in the world and they help us to get in touch with our sacred selves. My pilgrimages to Greece and Turkey (on two separate occasions) have remained with me for many years. And there are the inner pilgrimages which is a term we could apply to writing. In fact I applied the term “pilgrimage” to the Writing Home mentoring program I offer. Right now I’m embarking on a pilgrimage that involves some travel but mostly it will be an inner journey.

The first practice of the “journey within,” according to a book I just reviewed called The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Paintner, is “The Practice of Hearing the Call and Responding.”

Calls come in different forms of course: dreams, in the quiet of meditation, unexpected “aha” moments or while lying on one’s sick bed. I think the call has come to many when they’ve taken the time, unintentionally, to rest and be still during an illness. For this particular journey of mine, a lump on my leg led to a diagnosis of cancer. It needs to be treated with five weeks of radiation followed by some rest and then surgery.

What was I doing before the lump took over? I was having a pretty easy summer, looking forward to another writing retreat and doing some planning of writing circles I’ll offer in the fall. That has now changed. Cancer is a scary word and friends and family have generously offered their support.

My friend Birdie who has had breast cancer said in an email what she wanted to hear when she told people of her diagnosis: “I love you, you will get through this. I am here for you, any time. I respect your boundaries around what is best for you during the coming months. Tell me what to do that will be a help to you. Let me send you a kick-ass care package that will make your day.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then she sent that very message to me followed by a care package of a beeswax candle to remind me of the light I bring to the world; a little bird to remind me to keep the big picture in view; a Pocket Rumi with words of comfort and wisdom; a CD of specially selected tunes to dance to. (Birdie and I helped to start The Groove in Guelph, regular dance events moving to the Five Rhythms, and she continues to dance, as she did during her cancer journey.)

Dancing, which can be gentle movement including stretching on the floor, is a way to get in touch with emotions. You can dance with and through them, releasing what needs to be let go, and integrating that new experience. I’m finding that sort of movement very helpful with moving through the shock and the sadness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFlowers have come my way from friends and two family members of Sarah’s are including me in their Daily Mass Prayers. Our friend Titia said:

Regarding the active part, let us drive, cook,
do the laundry, whatever is needed.

Regarding the quiet part, call us for tea or hugs in the middle of the night. We can’t walk your path, but we can walk with you and we can hold hands, all five of us.

We love you both, you are our family.

Prayers are being sent to the Earth Mother and to the Goddess. And Titia tells me I can knock on the door of the powerful Biker King to ask for support and blessings.

From Sandy in Calgary, I’m being sent some Celtic witchery. There are many divine beings on my team. I’m grateful for all of them.

Don’t go away, come near.
Don’t be faithless, be faithful.
Find the antidote in the venom.
Come to the root of the root of your self.

From “The Root of the Root of Your Self” by Rumi, translated by Kabir Helminski.