Thursday, December 22, 2011

Early Winter Musings

We are creatures of habit, aren't we? For the last few days, two sets of thoughts have been running through my mind. At the end of December we'll start our road trip to explore parts of Florida for a month, a new place for me-exciting! It's almost Christmas and the ground is brown and bare-it doesn't seem like Christmas at all.

When I woke up this morning , I was met with a surprise-I looked out the window and saw whiteness! There wasn't a vast amount of snow, but suddenly the holidays and the land fell into sync. I felt good, even though I knew I'd have an hour or so of snow shoveling in front of me.

It's strange how the familiar is important. I want to break up the winter by traveling for a while to a place that is warm, has palm trees, and ocean. On the other hand, I would be truly disappointed if on December 25 the ground was not snow-covered for Christmas. That was one of the few things that I missed during the years that I lived and taught in Kenya and Morocco. I am sure that you have similar ties to the land where you were born and the cultural events that you grew up with. Yes, you can enjoy change, but there is something about time and place that remains in both your mind and heart.

Thank you for visiting, feel welcome to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable and your new year be the best ever.


Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Nearly Christmas

Lucca, Italy

Godshill (Isle of Wight), England

Malaga, Spain

Santa Fe, New Mexico USA

Brittany, France

As I travel, I don't usually seek out religious buildings unless I'm with a tour group or traveling with a friend who is interested in doing so. Mostly, at this stage in my life, I appreciate this type of place for its historical and cultural connections to a setting rather than its spirituality. It wasn't always so-I began as a Christian, drifted into Zen Buddhism, and presently profess no ties to any religion though I respect the religious beliefs of others as long as they do not try to force their beliefs upon me. The photos in this post came from a variety of places, their common theme is their ties to Christianity.

This theme was prompted by my reaction to the nearness of the celebration of Christmas. For the last few days it has been difficult to go anywhere without hearing Christmas carols. I enjoy the melodies, but am also a bit taken back by the fact that, even though I have not been a active Christian for many years, the melodies trigger the lyrics and then the memories of my childhood and turning into a young adult. I experience these memories and reflect that, while I have grown in different ways, both the carols and the thoughts behind them have been a part of my culture. A person's culture helps one define oneself.

It has taken me years to arrive at this acceptance. What used to be an important part of my spirituality is now a part of my cultural past. Notice that I didn't say that it was "just" part of my cultural past, that would not have given it the weight that is due. When I hear those songs in their various settings or visit a building related to religion, I can appreciate them for what they are from a cultural and historic point of view.

Travel should be a learning experience, in addition to an experience full of fun and adventure. I understand that if I avoid a part of a culture because it either makes me uncomfortable or is not part of my present culture, I am missing part of the total picture of a place. These thoughts are all tied into the songs I have recently heard in light of the celebration of Christmas. Music is, indeed, a powerful cultural element.

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travel be interesting and enjoyable.



I am just a few days away from exploring a place new to me. At the end of the month, I will travel southward to Florida and will spend the month of January there. I'm looking forward to new experiences that I'll be able to share with you..