Peg Gillard is a friend of mine. She is a mom in Vermont, as well as an assistant principal at a middle school. Peg reads books and rides a Harley. She appreciates the difference between “principal” and “principle,” and is passionate about ideas, joyful truth, and deep leadership.
Each summer, while I spend some time at New Camaldoli Hermitage & Monastery, Peg sets out on her Harley. We were intrigued by what each of us experienced, and we decided to share what we heard.
Thank you, Peg. I look forward to talking again soon.
What does a 3 week long, 6500 mile solo Harley trip have in common with a pilgrimage to a monastery? I am not sure but hope to discover through sharing my experiences in this post on StrategicMonk’s blog as a guest, while he posts one on my blog.
I am an introvert. I work in a very extroverted field: education. I have been an educator my entire life in one role or another. I have wanted to be nothing else except an educator. It came from deep within me. And so, I live my life in the extroverted world of a middle school and try to restore my energy with “being in my head” when I can. A 2-3 weeklong motorcycle trip is my annual sacred pilgrimage to restore my energy, heart, and soul.
I believe that living in or visiting a monastery boils life down to simplicity: food, water, shelter, gratitude for these daily gifts. My Harley trips do the same. As I motor to and from wherever my trip leads me, I camp as much as possible. I love the simplicity of camping ~ food, water, shelter and gratitude for each breath. I attend intently to each phase of my daily ritual and am only in the here and now. I practice being present and grateful in every moment from cooking on one small burner to diligently and carefully packing my bike for the day’s journey. Sometimes hours go by before I speak with anyone , able to be alone in my head uninterrupted with my thoughts which often explore the nature of soul, spirit, human behavior, lessons provided in each moment, the beauty surrounding me no matter where I am, and the “connection to all being one.” My annual pilgrimage brings me closer to the heart of the earth and the heart of humanity.
My 2012 pilgrimage was full of challenges over which I triumphed, although I still work to address the shadow voices that plagued me along the way. Those voices berated my fear and mistakes instead of celebrating the accomplishment of overcoming them. Because of the challenging nature of the lessons of this trip, the lessons and the journey itself are far fresher and more active than previous trips. I continue to encounter the trials daily that laid themselves before me during my trip. And I surrender to the triumphs less often, but they have gifted me with the strength to remind myself that I fought a mountain of gravel and some menacing demons so nothing thrown at me in daily life can compare.
I find myself longing for either my resemblant vision of a Monastic Life or a Sacred Harley Pilgrimage to unfold for the remainder of my days, and yet how would I learn to apply those lessons of the mind, heart and soul if I weren’t confronted with more challenges and opportunities to put my lessons to practice to serve humanity, to serve the greater good, to serve?
Personal restoration is paramount to universal restoration whether at a monastery or in the saddle of a Harley Davidson. As each of us is a piece of the whole each time we restore ourselves to be able to support others and serve others, the more we restore that whole. Each of us must find a daily pilgrimage that helps us boil down to enjoy each moment we have and each breath we take. In the end our legacy is the energy created as we have “pilgrimed” through life. Sharing those restorative pilgrimages, practicing lessons they provide us and operating daily from life’s sacred awe connects us and binds us heart to heart. I am humbled each time I have the opportunity to witness another’s pilgrimage towards their own sacredness.
[Image by Peg Gillard]