Eremos Magazine - Current Issue

Magazine No. 132 [ September 2015 ]

In this issue we explore the notion of pilgrimage. One of the attractions of travel is the liminal space that is opened up in leaving behind daily routine whereby we gain a new perspective on our life back home. But what if our daily routines included regular opportunity to enter a reflective, liminal space?

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Inside this issue

Tourist or Pilgrim? Israel Revisited by Frances MacKay
To be a Pilgrim by Tristan Guzman
Pilgrimage to the Heart by Anne Deane
Emerging from ‘Nothing Buttery’ by Michael Dowling
Monastic Vocation: Anachronism or Source of Renewal? by Sarah Bachelard
Pen, Paper and Prayer Mat: Five Days with a Mountain by Xanthan Black Cockatoo
Hiding at the Chinese Temple by Walter Mason
Indigenous A poem by Marlene Marburg
Eremos Information and Membership


In this issue we explore the notion of pilgrimage. For Muslims the Hajj – the annual pilgrimage to Mecca – is a mandatory religious duty to be undertaken at least once in their lifetime. A far less prescriptive kind of pilgrimage is the Camino de Santiago, which attracts pilgrims from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds. Then there are the ‘package’ pilgrimages to places that are generally held to be sacred. Such was my recent journey to the Holy Land, which was both confronting and inspiring.

For Tristan Guzman walking the Camino de Santiago proved to be ‘the jewel in the crown’ in the much larger pilgrimage of his journey with bereavement. His narrative works on so many levels to suggest
both inner and outer journeys. For instance, the scene at Cape Finisterre (the end of the world) is cinematic and symbolic – even archetypal. 

But pilgrimage does not always involve a change of geography. Anne Deane’s ‘Journey to the Heart’ is less about literal travel and more about a vocational journey. As she describes her commitment to nonviolent and compassionate communication, I am reminded of Frederick Buechner’s words: ‘Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need’. Certainly the world needs to learn nonviolent and compassionate communication.

The journey metaphor is played out in several ways in Michael Dowling’s ‘Emerging from “Nothing Buttery”’. The theme of emergence is apparent both in Michael Dowling’s own journey and in his poetic
portrayal of the evolution of the universe, including the evolution of consciousness. This is a large canvas.

One of the attractions of travel is the liminal space that is opened up in leaving behind daily routine whereby we gain a new perspective on our life back home. But what if our daily routines included regular opportunity to enter a reflective, liminal space? In musing on the relevance of the monastic vocation for today’s world, Sarah Bachelard wonders whether the journey within is in fact supported by ‘structures’ like the Rule of St Benedict, and practices like meditation, that help us to maintain balance in our lives and save energy for what matters.

Xanthan’s own rule of life includes an annual five-day fast and retreat immersed in solitude and nature. In ‘Pen, Paper and Prayer Mat’, Xanthan describes the experience and its benefits of healing and creativity. The three stages of liminal experience emerge clearly from this account – he leaves his community, spends time ‘out’, immersed in another space, and then returns with gifts of energy, creativity and love for himself, the community and the natural world.

The mood and scene change dramatically with Walter Mason’s ‘Hiding at the Chinese Temple’ where feasting, not fasting, seems to be on offer.
Finally, Marlene Marburg’s poem ‘Indigenous’ brings us home, reminding me that the point of the journey is to come home – to ourselves and others – hopefully with more space to welcome the stranger.

Travel well.

Frances MacKay

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