Friday, May 29

Pilgrimage and homage to blood ancestors

My father died. To honor him, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit the state of Michigan where he was born. I decided to honor him by visiting as many of the Great Lakes along the way as I could and put my feet into the water and remember him and say good-bye. There is no quick way to say good-bye to a parent. Rather it is a long process of reconciling and integrating who and what they were and what they had been. Perhaps this long process is a symptom of modern life where we are continually interrupted and distracted. Pilgrimage and homage to our blood ancestors and ancestry begins with our biological parents.

Like all spiritual work, there is serendipity along the way. Looking at the photos of that May weekend in Michigan and telling my brother the story of my journey in honor of our father, I began to wonder how to better tell this story, how to share these experiences with others.

Then, I realized that it has always been uncomfortable to share the blessings and difficulties of my life. Andyet, I feel motivated from an inner place to share them.

All through my life, destinations have only been part of the journey. I have learned to trust the experience and allow for serendipity, the chance occurrence, the defining moment, the work of angels, the spiritual discovery of the world around me reflecting the world within me.

The internet has been very kind to me, allowing a mostly introverted person a means to share and express. It seems that my most important insights and breakthroughs have largely been on my own, with my wife or with a few trusted people. Even in reflection of those moments, the experiences wash over me with an abiding sensation that more has happened than my senses can reveal at the time.

When talking about the experiences, I sometimes trivialize the importance of natural beauty and the power of shape, texture, light, dark. I sometimes minimize the importance of surprises along the way. There is something magnificent in being present when the sunlight and the clouds and the location and the breeze all come together in a harmonic symphony of light, color, smell, sound, that refresh the senses as they are brought to the brink of experience. And in the midst, there is spiritual reality - a glimpse of the divine - a moment of angelic healing and love - more than a camera can capture, even though I have tried.

More than just the photographs, I found myself wanting to share the stories and insights of this pilgrimage to honor my father. And then, to continue as the spirit leads - new adventures or past road trips, a thousand miles from home or in my back yard.

More about my father's death and memorial.

John Brian Paprock
priest & philosopher
artist & photographer