Recently we were part of a pilgrimage with fifty other devotees who traveled to Italy to enjoy her history, art, and, especially, her inspiration. Everywhere we went there were also thousands of tourists enjoying the cultural richness. But as I observed the other groups, I became aware that somehow we were different from them.
The others moved hurriedly through the museums, the historical sites, and even the sacred places without seeming to make much of a connection with anything they saw. Our group, by contrast, tried to pause, find a place of inner silence, and feel the inspiration. We tried to be, as Swami Kriyananda suggested, “spiritual archaeologists,” digging deep to find the treasures hidden beneath the surface.
The “hurried tourist” mentality was epitomized for me a few years ago when we were with a small group of people in the Vatican Museum in Rome. The place was packed with people trying to push their way forward through the throng, and at a certain point, we heard a loud thud and saw a lot of commotion.
Our tour guide said, “Oh, it’s just one of those ‘See Europe in Seven Days’ tours. Their schedule is so packed that they barely have time to sleep or eat. One of them is always fainting.”
What is the point of visiting inspiring places in such a way? But more important to us: What is the point of living our lives in such a way?
Most of us are like tourists barely taking the time to appreciate what we find each day. Then life draws to a close, and we ask ourselves, “What have I really learned from my experiences?”
After our pilgrimage ended, I decided to continue living as a pilgrim, trying to appreciate the presence of God all around me.
You, too, can do this in your daily life: When you awaken in the morning, you can think, “I am emerging from God’s omnipresence. Let me remain in His joy.” As you go to meditate, think, “Now I am entering the inner temple of God communion. Let this time be sacred.” When you go to work, think, “Now I have the chance to see God in all and do divine service to help others.” And when withdrawing into sleep at night, think, “Thank you, Lord, for giving me this beautiful day to dwell in your Presence. I give all my experiences back to you and rest in your freedom.”
May your daily pilgrimage be filled with expanding wonder and joy.