Mementos of Sacred Pilgrimages from the past…Les Souvenirs…inspire me to continue on life’s journey. Many of them are now “decorating” my new walking stick. How I selected them reminded me of how a bride might prepare for her wedding ceremony…find something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, and then take them with you as you walk down the aisle to your new life.
Starting at the top of my stick, I tied some red yarn/thread that was given to me during a red thread ceremony which honors the ties that bind women together as they sit in circle and share their wisdom and prayers.
Next is my Cursillo Cross which is wrapped with a braided multicolored yarn which represents De Colores. Cursillo is a contemporary renewal movement within various Christian denominations. It invites participants to deepen their relationship to Christ and to share God’s love and joy with others. A popular song among Cursillistas is De Colores which originated in the 16th century. Here is an excerpt:
De Colores, in all colors the fields love to dress during springtime.
De Colores, in all colors the birds have their clothing that comes every season.
De Colores, in all colors the rainbow is shining across the wide sky.
De Colores, and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart sing.
Tied to the stick is a Queen Bee which is a symbol of Creation. She represents Mary, The Blessed Mother. The Bee is also a symbol of the Sisterhood of Belle Coeur, of which I am a member.
There is also a piece of White Coral which symbolizes happiness and immortality, and also provides protection to travelers especially when crossing bodies of water. To me, it also represents the bones of my ancestors who continue to guide me on life’s journey.
The three feathers that are attached are black, brown and white, and they represent the different races, religions and creeds found around the world. I discovered these particular feathers while walking in Eastern Europe and along the Gulf of Mexico. They are reminders that wherever we go, birds fly overhead knowing no boundaries. Birds are also symbolic messengers of God.
Below that cluster of symbols is a pilgrim badge which was made by one of our Belle Coeur Sisters and given to each woman participating in our circle’s formation retreat. Pilgrim badges were first mass-produced during the Middle Ages as souveniers for those making pilgrimages to sacred shrines and cathedrals. The Belle Coeur pilgrim badge has the community’s spiritual template…the Equidistant Cross within a Circle. The cross represents Jesus, the Cosmic Christ, and the circle represents Sophia Wisdom as the all-encompassing circle of life, nature and the cosmos. (From “The Way of Belle Coeur,” p. 453) The pilgrim badge is attached to the walking stick by red elastic which also holds a small heart with cross symbol inside. It secures the pilgrim badge to the sacred walking stick just like our prayers hold us secure to our Beloved.
What souveniers will you take with you as you travel down the Holy Road? What new sacred treasures will speak to your pilgrim heart? I would love to hear what inspires you on your spiritual journey.