I’m reading the book The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. I came across this book when we were talking a few weeks ago about making pilgrimages.
It contains a paraphrase of advice that was given to people in medieval times who were embarking on pilgrimages: Stranger, pass by that which you do not love.
I didn’t quite understand quote and didn’t know what to make of it. If you’re on a pilgrimage or if you’re visiting new place, it’s most helpful if you stay mindful and open to everything. You want to see the gifts that every moment has to give you as well as learn the lessons that some moments contain–in fact, often times the lesson is the gift.
When I read Stranger, pass by that which you do not love, it sounded counterintuitive. The quote sounded like it was advising us not to pay attention, that we should ignore something that has the potential to teach us a very profound lesson. And the quote seemed to say that we should overlook the little bits of beauty sprinkled throughout the day that give us the opportunity for wonder and awe at the magnificence of creation.
That advice didn’t seem right so I kept pondering that quote to see what else I could glean from it.
Soon it occurred to me that the quote isn’t saying that we shouldn’t learn a lesson that we shouldn’t be mindful. It isn’t saying that we should be shallow and stick with only the things we like or are comfortable with.
What the quote is telling us is exactly what it’s saying: stranger, pass by that which you do not love. The quote tell us to pass by: don’t stay with what we don’t love; don’t cling to what we don’t love; don’t wallow in what we don’t love.
I found this to be a very profound reminder that we will go through difficulties, because it’s guaranteed that we’re going to hit rough patches no matter how smart, how beautiful, how young, how old, how talented, how slim, how rich, we are going to hit difficulties. Some are going to be much more trying and more heartbreaking than others. And we aren’t going to love it at all–who would?! The point is to pass by, to go through it as best we can. Go through it–don’t stop, don’t wallow, don’t stagnate, don’t cling.
I wanted to share this revelation with you. I hope you find inspiration and encouragement in these ideas.
Your friend and Pep pal