At one point during our month long trip in Europe this summer, I turned to my partner Richard and told him, “I feel like we’re on a pilgrimage.”
While we did plan to visit a couple religious sites, we found ourselves continually drawn to sacred spots and churches, offering prayers, lighting candles and spending time in silent contemplation.
We took the bus from Lisbon to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, where the Virgin Mary appeared to three local shepherd children (Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco) over several months in 1917.
Our friend Carles drove us to the Benedictine Monastery at Montserrat outside of Barcelona, Spain, where we touched and kissed the feet of the Black Madonna, a small statue of the Virgin Mary that has been housed there for centuries.
In Barcelona, we marveled and sat within the Temple of the Sagrada Familia (the “Holy Family”), an architectural achievement envisioned by Antoni Gaudi as a monumental heavenly Basilica and Church, with its first stone laid in 1882 and expected completion by 2030.
In the heat of Madrid’s summer, our friends Helena and Tone helped us escape the heat by bringing us to the cool underground Crypt of the Almudena Cathedral, where we contemplated the meaning of life and death in a space of deep tranquility.
Even in the neighborhood of La Latina where we stayed at an AirBnB apartment in Madrid, we happened to be there during the time of the Festival of the Virgen de la Paloma, culminating in a long procession and street-filled celebrations of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Throughout the trip, we stopped at churches and visited museums, standing in awe of carefully crafted religious statues and paintings, centuries-old stained glass windows and worn stone buildings.
And we didn’t only come across Catholic icons and sites, but also Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim ones as well.
I’ll tell you, there’s something powerful about feeling this kind of sacred connection when you’re away from home. And being away for a month is a long time.
There were moments we felt homesick, missing the comfort of our bed and taking for granted how easy it is in Los Angeles to eat Chinese or Mexican food.
We missed our friends and family, and the ease by which we would run into people we knew at Dodger Stadium or the Hollywood Bowl.
And yet, it was at these very sacred sites that allowed us to stop and pray for our loved ones, our friends, our families, our communities and for our country.
In those moments of lighting candles, of kneeling in prayer and of communing with the Divine, we brought everyone with us into our hearts and, by extension, into our travels.
You may not have realized it, but you were with us on our travels!
In truth, we’re never alone. We just have to remind ourselves of our enduring connections, even if we’re thousands of miles apart.
Even when you’re on vacation, or perhaps because you’re on vacation, you open to insights that you otherwise might not realize in your day-to-day life.
Yes, you experience different cultures, food and people. And yet, because you find yourself in a world of differences, you’re reminded of the people and the experiences you hold most dear to your heart.
It might seem cliché to say this, but there is some truth to the saying that you find yourself when you travel.
But to that I would also add, when you find yourself on a pilgrimage, even accidentally, you find you’re never alone.
Abundant Blessings and Namaste.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about today’s post, and hear your thoughts about how you connected with the sacred while on vacation. Please leave a comment below.
Also, if you’re feeling the need for guidance or support for a particular area of life, I offer a complimentary life coaching consultation where we can chat. You can learn more about these life coaching consultations by clicking here.
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Joselito is a spiritual life coach helping people create a purposeful, spiritual path to career and financial freedom.
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