A woman standing in an overgrown yard as hand in the foreground holds a flower that obscures her face

For the travel-hungry, 2020 has likely been challenging. While I’ve cherished the time at home, I’m reaching a point where I want to travel for a refresh. Being cooped up has created a monotony that isn’t conducive to new ideas. 

Quarantine has left me restless and longing for an international trip. The past few months, I’ve thought much about a university trip I took in the summer of 2018 to Greece and England. “Cultural Pilgrimage” was the name of the trip. I found an old journal entry that I wrote soon after I returned to my college campus:

The irony in my pilgrimage occurred when I returned home. I spent the majority of the journey feeling small. I was overwhelmed by the grandeur of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Acropolis, the hike through the Agia Irini Gorge in Crete and many more places.

However, I realized a few weeks after my arrival home that these same overwhelming miracles are present all around me. I just have to take the time to notice. I don’t know how to explain it, but since I’ve been home, the world feels smaller. I’ve realized that no matter how grand or small an experience is, we can choose to take delight in it.

The lessons this trip taught me faded with time. I was humbled to read my past thoughts. My unsettled heart needed a reminder to delight in the present. 

My unsettled heart needed a reminder to delight in the present. 

Revisiting those memories made me think about a book I read before the trip. I read “The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred” by Phil Cousineau. In his book, Cousineau defines a pilgrimage as “a transformative journey to a sacred center.” Everyone on the trip chose a different pilgrimage theme. I learned that regardless of the destination, a pilgrimage is an introspection to search for the sacred. With this mindset, any trip can become a pilgrimage.

The book taught me that the things we discover about ourselves while traveling are possible to uncover in our backyard. However, travel often forces us to observe and participate in new ways.

Let’s learn to delight in simplicities. While we may not live in the spaces we yearn to travel to or have easy access to visually overwhelming sites, let’s use our imaginations to achieve the same self-discovery. When we choose to be present, we can emulate travel.

Let’s learn to delight in simplicities…When we choose to be present, we can emulate travel.

As international travel reopens and we resume taking trips safely, my hope is that we don’t forget the beauty and wonder found at home. Brew a cup of tea, eat slowly and close your eyes to take the first bite of chocolate. Buy some flowers, burn a fresh candle and listen to new music. Indulge in the mundane and make your routine a new journey.

Cousineau says, “What matters most on your journey is how deeply you see, how attentively you hear and how richly the encounters are felt in your heart and soul.”

I believe we can take intrinsic journeys right from our own backyards.

What does travel look like for you right now? How can you transform a trip into a “pilgrimage,” whether it’s at home or abroad? What are your sources of joy this season?

Image via Koty 2, Darling Issue No. 24

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