Every journey is a pilgrimage of some sort. Traveling is building an altar towards the heart. If our bodies say anything about who we are, we must move into spaces as we desire. I recognize how my presence alters a room or how a room alters my presence. This is a valuable spiritual sharing. Where do I begin, what do I choose to share?
After spending nearly two years of my life in Europe, I decided to return to New York City. It is a slow maturing that allows us alone enough in time to discover the crowd of self, all those voices waiting to be listened to. Being foreign creates a familiar awareness of spirit. How aware one can become of human connection by being disconnected from culture and language? In all my time abroad I have shared very little about that which feels most internal. Perhaps it is because I don’t really know what to share, what to say, or how to say it. Or perhaps it doesn’t really matter and no one really cares or should care. Then, there are those moments when I find it resonates with someone else much like when I read a poem, experience evokes us true in another person, a place where we can transcend our distracted selves. I respect the calling of exchange. Seeing as I am returning to Europe this month, I want to try to share in the process, all the images, the altering of perspective and the joy of being invited to perform what I love doing rather than fleeing from it. To be running towards something more than away and yet what could it be? I’ve gone through great lengths in search of something outside of self, only to realize a place is no more a home than a person. What is it about leaving and returning?
Let me tell you about Brussels: I arrived four days ago welcomed by two women named Lise and Gia. If I am a person to be surrounded by angels, surely they are proof. They live in the heart of Matonge reminiscent of Paris’ Barbes where I lived for several months last year. Where ever Africans migrate to, it is as if there is a frequency I recognize, the neighborhood vibrates channeling all that has come before, now, here. Being in Lise and Gia’s home reminds me of a certain home I’ve been to before, within. And this is what I cherish most about traveling, recognizing and affirming the existence of others, breaking bread and encountering stories, these are the kinds of nuggets of life that will gray me into sweet toothless tales. We sit together in the living room most nights listening to Audre Lorde’s voice and Congolese music. Gia starts my first night off by opening a bottle of 20 year aged rum, pours a lick onto the floor, “This is for the ancestors, to the spirits that protect.” We laugh as if the spirits are laughing too. She hands a shot glass to me as I lay lovely in a orange room-wide hammock. We are in Belgium and for a moment, too, somewhere else. The sipping begins with Lise putting on a mix she made. The air assorts into whirls of smoke. Warrior Wisdom, we call it. What sounds like a harp begins to play:
I started out like all of us start out, a coward, afraid. It’s not to say I’m not afraid now. It’s to say that whether I am afraid or not, I count less. I value myself more than I value my terrors. It does not mean I don’t have them. Once I take that position, I can see what it is that they teach me.
We dissolve and let our feeling speak more than our words. I recount personal truths I hadn’t had the mind to sift through until this space. We are not here alone.