A pilgrimage is a journey of spiritual significance. Typically it is a journey to a shrine or a place that is important to one’s beliefs or values.
Every year, I go to Weekapaug, Rhode Island. To most people, it is a vacation destination. The ocean, the sun. the beach. Sailing, tennis, golf. It’s all here. Some people even call it Camp Weekapaug. I partake in all of that.
But there is something more.
You see, I was conceived here many decades ago. That’s right, conceived. Not born. My parents had just finished building the house where I am writing this post. They came down one September weekend to enjoy the fruit of their labor and, well, my cells started dividing as my mother drifted off to sleep, listening to the ocean from her new bedroom window.
Having been pregnant three times before, she said she knew the next morning that she was pregnant. I don’t know if that’s possible but I believed her.
So each year, I come to this place where I began. Each year, I loop this small community on morning walks at dawn. I memorize the bumps in the road. I breathe in every smell. I try to record the waves, the light, the birds so that anytime I close my eyes, I will be here. It is how I mark time and how time marks me. It is my sun. In a very real way, my life is cradled here. Yes, I live elsewhere but when I come here each year, I can see how time has passed. Children are born and families have grown and changed. People I have known since I was a child are gone. Those are the easy changes to notice. There are more subtle ones. Internal ones. Ones that allow me to laugh more deeply and loosen my grip on the wheel of life. I think that big old body of water in front of me is what does it. It goes on and on without my doing a darn thing. If it can do that, then I would do well to wake up with a smile on my face, put the best words I know on paper and be the kind of human being I would love and and admire in the world.
I am lucky to know such a place, to have it in my soul’s memory. I am lucky to come here on a pilgrimage each year and reacquaint myself with these beliefs and values again and again.
Here is where I will take my last walk before I return to Austin tomorrow…