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Dear Biddy,

The difference between pilgrimage and journey is that for the pilgrim each step is the journey, not the destination. Living in this way opens up new possibilities with every step. I am helped to being in the now by living gratefully and receiving the gift of each precious moment that offers opportunities and giving myself to the opportunity. Br David Steindl-Rast is the guru of teaching how to live this way, regardless of creed or belief system. His mantra to receive each moment as gift, can some times be quite overwhelming, an overflow of gratitude that saturates the soul.

As I have written before Biddy, improv is a great meditative tool and practice to support mindfulness. While sitting on stool in a bar by the river in Singapore I heard a young woman wrestle with her conflicting emotions of excitement and fear in taking up a new challenge. We were in good company and on the spot two improvisers were able to deliver there and then on the spot a reflection of those conflicting emotions – her joy and release were shared by the rest of us in this small group. A simple exchange. A sacred moment. How wonderful it would be if improv was applied and accessible in many other conversations. During this week at dinner there was a moment to teach a simple improv exercise (one word at a time) with friends who are in similar professional settings to me. One of their number, then applied that activity a couple of days later.

Like folk music, these gifts of improv, travel, are adopted and passed on to a new community. The power of play to teach and reach deep into our emotional selves provides the lived experience for the lessons to be internalised and remembered long after playtime is over.

Improv Workshop - TorontoBeing able to show up and be present and to share – the give and the take – an eternal exchange – just like breathing in and out – is the pilgrim’s vocation. The primer for this work is provided by Br David and whatever your spiritual heritage or practice his inclusivity makes his message of gratitude accessible to all.

Biddy, I am sure you took time for conversations about the celtic dreamtime; where the elements dance with the story of the landscape, the little people and trials and tribulations of everyday life.  And in that conversation a parting glass of whisky is raised sending pilgrims on their way. A conversation between you and Br David might lead to celebrating the sunrise, admiring the wild herbs making their way from wayside to table and a toast to a goodnight’s sleep to refresh you for the journey ahead.

You are both great companions for me on my pilgrimage.