Reflecting on Travel and Pantheism

“To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.” ~ Mikhail Gorbachev

I wrote an entire blog entry on Pantheism, then shied away from posting it. Instead, I will end my journey through the east with some reflective thoughts and an overtly Pantheistic theme.

For the last five years, I’ve lived in a vacation town with a beautiful, calm, and warm ocean and a tropical climate that stubbornly maintains a humid 88F/30C degrees year round. While this has its advantages, and I honestly thought I would be living there permanently, this trip around the globe has really made me long for home. By “home” I mean Pennsylvania. It’s more than just longing to be close to friends and family. It has to do with Pennsylvania itself.

Over the last few months, I walked beside beautiful waterfalls and volcanoes, trekked through jungle and rainforest, canoed and kayaked by river, lake, and sea, climbed over muddy mangrove roots in my bare feet, watched the sunrise over the Himalayas and Uluru, and felt the cool evening breeze of the Outback against my skin while gazing at stars that stretched to the horizon.

One night, in Port Douglas, Australia, as I was walking home from the market, I looked up at the sky and saw that, instead of my usual Orion, the Southern Cross was guiding me home. This sent a thrill through me that I can’t possibly explain! I’m sure it was as odd a sight as when I was literally hugging trees in Stanley Park in Vancouver. There I was, standing in the middle of the street, hands full of groceries, laughing at the sky – so moved by seeing what has always been in the sky but never in my view before now!

All of this awakened in me my deep reverence for nature and the Universe and reminded me of how long it’s been since I lived somewhere with four distinct seasons – so defined and individually beautiful. I long for a changing climate where deciduous green trees of summer show off their vibrant colors in autumn and fade into the chill of winter, only to be reborn in spring. I long for babbling creeks, daffodils of spring, maple syrup and apple cider of fall, and all the other magic of Penn’s Woods.

On this world journey, as I visited many temples, mosques, churches, and other religious sites, the things that filled me with the most awe were the wonders of nature – especially waterways. Although I am not moving to Pennsylvania, which has more rivers and creeks than anywhere else in the continental United States, I will be a mere two hours away exploring the Potomac on my new kayak.

I am so filled with joy that I was able to take this incredible trip around the world. I met amazing people, experienced new cultures, saw so many wonders of nature, and even overcame some fears. I am equally as excited to return home to the mid-Atlantic.

Home. I really like the sound of that.

~ LiAnn

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