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Ancestral Pilgrimage

My newest Seasons of the Soul column is up at Patheos:

As we grow older we have more and more people to remember, people who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys. Parents, spouses, children, and friends can become true spiritual companions after they have died. Sometimes they can become even more intimate to us after death than when they were with us in life. Remembering the dead is choosing their ongoing companionship. —Henri J. M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

I stood there at the edge of the Baltic Sea, on the beach at Jurmala in Latvia, and I felt a deep kinship to this place, which I had never been to before. Perhaps it was standing at this borderland place where forest meets the sea, the same kind of landscape I had inexplicably fallen in love with in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. Thousands of miles away I had met this place of wildness and fallen in love. As I stood in this ancestral land, I felt a connection, a kind of deep knowing.

Maybe the felt connection was because of the photos I have of my father playing on these same sands, the carefree days of his childhood long before the burdens of adulthood settled into his bones and the deep grooves formed on his forehead.

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