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At first, I didn’t know Evans Bowen very well. But I certainly was in awe of her.
She was a filled-with-grace-and-wisdom Southern woman. I was a slightly-rough-around-edges Northerner who was out of her home state for only the third time in her fifty-something years. Not that I wanted it that way. Travel has always been in my soul for the last decade, but my pocketbook rarely allowed it. But I considered it a gift when I could live vicariously through her stories.
It was a blisteringly hot August in Maryville, TN I listened intently as she shared the details of her last overseas trip and picked at my “toad in a hole” Cracker Barrel breakfast. Her tone was gentle, yet tinged with excitement at times. But it was the voice of a seasoned traveler sharing bits and pieces of a life I could only dream of.
I admit that I added, “go on a pilgrimage” to my Bucket List not long after our breakfast gathering.
That was the first time I met Evans, but not the last. Over the year we became long-distance friends and I was not the least bit surprised when she announced she was going to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain; a forty-day, 500-mile pilgrimage. I was even more honored when she asked if I would run her blog for her while she was gone. The plan was that she would email me daily updates and pictures from her trek from Spain and I would load, format and publish them for her. I appreciated the paid work, but my introverted self felt even more blessed to be able to experience this journey without leaving my home office.
Needless to say, Evans completed this epic pilgrimage with the grace and humility that has always been her co-pilot on all of her trips. I was bummed when the 40 days were over but was excited that Evans would have even more travel tales to share and wisdom to reflect on.
The months flew by and soon I was holding my own copy of Evans’ book, Pilgrimage: A Modern Seekers Guide in my hands. The book was not just a recounting of her 40-day trek on one of the most sacred paths in the world, it was also a guide. A guide on how to live life, savor every moment, and not let the constraint of miles and money hold us back from having our own pilgrimages.
I savored this book. I read it slowly and intentionally. Then there it was, on page 16, the profound thought that smacked me squarely between the eyes.
“You get to discover and decide which places are sacred in your life. You may feel called to a site such as the Pyramids or a great cathedral, but you can just as easily find what you are looking for in your own backyard. The main component of any place that you find sacred is the awe, wonder, peace, and healing that you experience there.”
There it was. The balm for my restless soul. For too long I had been feeling frustrated and anxious because I wasn’t able to explore and travel like I wanted to. But in an instant, I saw my own big, beautiful back yard with new eyes. My backyard wasn’t the place where too many oak leaves fell and where the dog pooped…a lot, it was a diamond in the rough.
For the first time in the three decades that I lived at this address, I saw that everything I needed in the way of a sanctuary or “get away” was already in my possession.
So I set to work. And with a LOT of black dirt, garden hoses, raised bed gardens, woven wire fencing (to keep the deer from misbehaving), seeds, and maybe even a little cursing, I created a little corner of the world that makes my heart sing.
The Swedish word Lagom means enough, just the right amount, not too much, not too little, moderation. My PLG is my lagom to my past yearnings to be somewhere other than where I am right now. And honestly, this slim little book filled with wisdom made me realize that I am already on my own very special pilgrimage.
And I can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂
My self-published books!