Choose to Let the Mystery Be

Stage 10 of the #VirtualCamino2020

Today the guide takes us to a monastery. And she talks about ancestors.

The dissonance that plays between my associations with these ideas – solitude and connection –  is pleasant.

I often write about the sense I have of being untethered in the world. The fabric of my family is frayed and torn. Ancestors is an archaic word in my ears, and absent from my vernacular. The characters in my grandmother’s the stories sprout from nowhere and disappear. Maybe Germany, maybe Holland. From my father I have heard some very odd claims about a royal bloodline that are illogical, but might explain some of the eccentricities – belonging to the characters, belonging to me. 

In my early teens we visited Pleasantville in Kentucky, and I was fascinated by the history of the Shaker community there. I wanted to stay in one of their little cabins for a summer. On my own.

To be honest, I am not certain who the “we” were who visited. Did my grandparents take me? My step-father, mother and brother, perhaps? I can’t imagine why they would have chosen to go there. But it would explain my experience of being alone in the place.  I gravitate towards things that do not interest most people I’ve known.

I have always been drawn to sacred spaces. Quaker rooms and Gothic Cathedrals. A circle of rocks in a field. Museums. Sometimes I wonder how I didn’t wind up a nun. Or a member of some insular sect detached from the world. It is not an inconceivable idea. But I have always pulled toward extremes. I am content – more than content – now to put effort into walking a middle path. 

I’ve stopped asking myself the why of the fascination. Some years ago I decided to let the mystery be and just find pleasure in the spaces.

Though I do wonder if there is something about the energy of all the seekers who have passed through these spaces, looking for something. The energy of their intensity, their need, desire, their longing almost erotic somehow – leaving a ghost of some yet-undetected hormone. A preternatural presence that can only be felt in the quiet of what appears to be solitude.

5 Replies to “Choose to Let the Mystery Be”

  1. Hi Ren,
    I have been quarantined and not at home so I’ve just now come upon these remarkable posts.
    Can you possibly send me them from the beginning?
    And what virtual tour? Is this something I could do while following your posts.

    Thank you for keeping at it. It makes me want to try.

    1. MaryJO – I thought I would find an email from your blog – but no… how do you want me to send them? (they are all here on the blog moving backwards for the past 11 days.

      I stumbled onto the project that Amy Gigi Alexander began – she has walked the Camino every year for the past 20 years and of course can’t this year. She started a group on Facebook, but it closed once we “left” the starting point. I can see if anyone else is keeping a blog or has a public diary of their trek.

      Thank you so much for reading!
      is the beginning. At the bottom, “next post” will move you along my path… I will be back with links to others when I find them 🙂

  2. You describe here something that feels familiar to me, too–as to spaces, not as to family. (It has been my fortune to have had an unshredded family and a childhood I love to recall.) Tho among those recollections are being a small person in a scared space and the way the small hairs on the back of my neck would rise…not necessarily in horror but in awe.


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