This weekend my wife drove with her friend down to Kentucky to attend the World Equestrian Games for five days. My wife told me that this week set a world record for the most horses flying in the air (by aircraft) in a few days! She was incredibly excited about her trip. And before she left I said to her “This is sort of a Pilgrimage for you!” But she denied it and said she had no clue what I could mean by that.
Then I explained:
“You have practiced dressage (a type of riding) for 15 years. You love horses. You work cleaning stalls for fun (and for “free” riding lessons). You have our children riding. You have used riding for peace of mind, confidence, release, fun, community and much more. And now, all the riding-greats are gathering on one spot in the USA and this won’t happen again for decades to come. You are making a pilgrimage to sacred grounds. Horse riding is somewhat sacred to you — set apart, special, imbibed with more meaning than the words imply. This location will now incarnate much of what you idealize and value in riding. Many people from all over the world will be going there with similar attitudes about your interests and this will amplify the experience to make the whole package a kind of Pilgrimage.”
She laughed and said, “Gee, I guess you are right!”
So, why this post? Well that encounter between us made me think of two issues which I’d love to hear readers’ responses to:
- Religious Temperament: My wife was raised Catholic but she is an atheist and perhaps is a “natural atheist” in that she never really got the “god thing”. But she was sort of an anti-religion atheist in ways I wasn’t when we met. But she softened towards religion a bit after she used meditation/relaxation techniques to have our children without drugs and with minimal discomfort (we listed to Yoga meditation guidance tapes I had from my days studying Yoga). She also brought our children with me to a Zen center for several months and now wishes she meditated more. So she softened in her anti-religiousness because of seeing the benefit of contemplative traditions.
- Religious Language: When I use the religious words, as I did here with “Pilgrimage”, they don’t naturally ring true for my wife at all. So my mind seems much more religiously inclined in such a weird way. And for me, over the years, I have decided to reclaim religious words and broaden them to dis-empower their pretentious holiness while still capturing their usefulness. That is my style and it has been helpful to me.