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Photo by Catherine Von Holt, Nepal Semester.

Himalayan Pilgrimage

We dreamed.
We discussed.
We got inspired.
We prepared.
We practiced.
We checked our motivation.
We set shared and personal aspirations.
We strengthened our resolve.
We are determined.
We are ready…

To leave worn-out burdens behind us,
To pack a rucksack full of the gear of good intentions,
To lace up the trusty boots of patience and cooperation,
To grab hold the freshly cut walking stick of new attitude,
To carry a pouch full of the savory sweet snack foods of generosity, in order
To ride the winds of aspiration to heights unknown,
Beyond conception,

We ask ouselves:
What does it mean to be on pilgrimage?
To invite transformation?
To chase after challenges, eager for a higher purpose?
Am I ready to lose myself in all that I find?
Or will I find myself in all that I lose?

We know we are in danger of being stripped of the old clothes of mundane concerns.
But How?
By What and
for Whom?

This danger lies around any trail switchback,
Behind the high mountain pass,
Disguised in the misty epic vista,
Beneath each step,
Hidden in every teardrop and
Lurking in every laugh
Shared with companions.

We crave that danger.
For we are so weary of these ragged threads that bind us to the tired fashion of self cherishing…

And yearn to adorn the down jacket of altruism.
Bask in the evening campfire’s glow of simple perception, and
Observe the clear insight of the crisp starry night.

At last, slipping into the night clothes of compassion,
Wrapped in the cosy sleeping bag of love,
We lay down in the sturdy tent of aspiration,
To dream a world anew.

We are ready…

(For the purpose of helping the group establish the appropriate and sincere motivation for Trek, I wrote and recited this poem in Gatlang, Rasuwa, in the style of the 19th century Tibetan poet Shabkar, who was a master of spiritual pilgrimage.)