We've written about the idea of pilgrimage and liminality as the impetus to this trip. We wanted to write a post about how we architected this 6,000 mile road trip.
We wanted, to some extent, to hold true to real pilgrimage ideology in detaching from the rhythms that have had a negative effect on our collective soul as a family - lives full of busyness, electronics, deadlines and more. We decided it would be good to leave these things behind and engage in more "primitive" methods of growth and relationship building. So here are a few things we've done:
Manny: We purchased a huge 15-passenger van, and named him Manny. Those with kids will get this - the large mammoth on the movie Ice Age. The moment we sit in this mammoth of a vehicle, we knew he was a Manny. Manny, unlike our more modern urban transportation does not have a DVD system, and the kids were prohibited from bringing any sort of video gaming system, handheld or other. All entertainment within this vehicle would be audio books, conversation, or the ancient car games many of us grew up with like I Spy, The Alphabet game, License plate game, etc...if anyone is not interested in any of these options there is always the option of paying attention to the new scenery we drive through or sleeping.
Reading: everyone picked out a personal book to read through. We also brought a "family book" to read around the fire while camping. Along with our selected books, we are all going through a sabbatical-pilgrimage guide I, Matthew, wrote and adapted from St. Ignatian's disciplines and Joseph Cambell's, The Hero's Journey. Here's our summer reading list:
- Sarah - The Shack
- Matthew - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
- Serena - Divergent
- Ashton - Artemis Fowl
- Eden - Call of the Wild
- Elie - Pinkalicious
- Family book - A Wrinkle In Time
Clothes: on a traditional pilgrimage one could only bring what one could carry. The purchase of Manny afforded us with the option to bring excess. But part of this experiment is to learn to live on less, so though we are on a five week trip, everyone was allowed to only pack 5 changes of clothes.
Maps: 17 years ago I, Matthew, took a 4,000+ road trip with 5 other teenagers. Back in those days, we didn't have Siri or gps, yet between all of us and those old things called maps we found our way from Austin, to Canada, over to Niagara Falls, New York City, and back home. Kids don't know how to read maps any more, ask them how to get somewhere and they'll say something like, "Google it" or "punch it into the gps", which is all fine, but what are they going to do after the Zombie apocalypse when all technology crashes? How will they get away from the danger zones? Okay, so maybe that isn't the motivation, but using a map and relying on our collective decision making was very bonding 17 years ago on that first road trip, and reading a map is a good skill to learn, so we are using gps as little as possible, and relying on the old ancient art of map reading. Each night before take off for a new destination we sit around a table and the kids map out our route.
Learning: we bought a stellar National Parks Map which contains a plethora of information about the parks. Before we head to the parks the kids locate them on a map and come up 5-10 interesting facts about that park and then teaches us about them as we drive toward them.
This little exercise was recommended to us from our friends at Kammok. This practice has been both educational and fun for all of us.
We are also attempting to learn other practices like meditation, play, reflection, journaling, and the prioritization of the collective over the individual. We also realize that we are a pretty large family with several different personalities and interests, so things won't go as planned, but that's real life, it never does. But at least we won't be able to digress and hide behind modern distractions like video games and typical entertainment, we'll have to embrace these differences as we learn to navigate and learn to be very present in the midst of all that lies ahead and around. The road ahead of us is long. The memories to be made are limitless. The laughs will be plenty. The restoration will be abundant.
There's an old quote, I don't know who wrote it, but it goes like this: The Human soul needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
Our collective soul has grown weary living from functioning so long in a place "rearranged by the hands of man", and thus we have intentionally embarked on a road that leads to many places not yet been rearranged in our quest to live ordinary well