It’s been months since I brought home a well loved copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho from an old tin shed bookstore. To provide some context, I was at a point of crisis and heartbreak, when a dear friend of mine walked me into this book-shed (this truly is the most fitting description).
My friend encouraged me to buy only what I was drawn to. “Whatever it is you’re meant to read, will find it’s way into your hands.” She had said.
With a little faith and curiosity I browsed the shelves, my eyes fluttering over hundreds of book titles. Some were familiar, many I had never heard of. When I had nearly exhausted my efforts, I remember it being a rather humid day too, my eyes stopped at this burnt orange title neatly wedged between some more modern, shine-coated books. This one caught my eye purely for it’s uniqueness; it was older and more frayed than the other books on the shelf. Naturally I reached for it. Inspecting the cover and the back, I was a little confused. I turned to my friend, who had noticed me holding this book.
“This one has no description on the back,” I said bluntly. Her eyes grew wide and the greatest smile found it’s way onto her face as clearly, she recognised the cover.
“Haven’t your ever read this book?” She asked, with great surprise. I shook my head, a small confused grin forming on my own lips.
She laughed heartily. “Oh my goodness, this is so typical of the universe. You’re meant to have that book. You have no idea, that book is going to change your life.”
I inspected the cover again, this time with a little more interest and reverence. It read The Alchemist. I accepted this book, trusting my friend’s words. I didn’t realise I had picked up what I now know to be one of the most powerfully yet simply written books of our time; and times to come I am sure.
It’s been 8 months now since I brought this book home and admittedly, I only picked it up to read for the first time three days ago. Now I sit here writing this.
This, in itself, is a beautiful moment. I can’t remember the last time I wrote this way, or at all. For myself, to express, to share and to witness. Just writing simply to revel in the magic of life, trying to better understand a moment of revelation that has me feeling so profoundly grateful and enriched.
When I began reading The Alchemist, I had no expectations. I read frequently, mostly self-improvement or business books, focused on personal development and self realisation. So, reading The Alchemist was immediately refreshing because it offered my mind something the other books hadn’t – a beautiful mixture of imagination and deep rooted wisdom to ponder on. I’m still only half way through the book, but wanted to write this piece here almost as a footnote. This is selah (selê), which means to suspend or pause in Hebrew.
Truly, pilgrimage is at the heart of The Alchemist. While there are many topics and themes brushed over in the course of the book, pilgrimage is the one which has resonated with me the most. I’ve been processing and exploring this for the past couple of days and here I have landed; a new website, and a lengthy blog about the wonderful realisation I have had.
I found my mind wandering back to a trip I made to Israel in 2015. This trip was a personal pilgrimage. I even have a beautifully framed Certificate of Pilgrimage which was awarded to me in Jerusalem on my final night by the Mayor of Jerusalem and Minister of Tourism. This journey to the Holy Land is one of the most enriching experiences I’ve been fortunate to have in my life so far. I was so drawn in by the culture and the way of the Israeli people, who have come from many places. I was in such awe and gratitude throughout my time in Israel and found it to be a place of indescribable beauty and inspiration.
It’s been 6 years since and I have not yet been able to document the experience until now; because it didn’t make sense, until now.
In The Alchemist, the young boy at the centre of the story, sets out on a personal pilgrimage. I don’t want to spoil the story if you’ve never read it, so I will briefly touch on this. In one part of the story, it tells of how many men set out on pilgrimages to find the Mecca. For the fortunate few who made it to see the Mecca, the story tells of how these men would decorate their homes with symbols of their pilgrimage. It lead me to think about pilgrimage and the imprint the journey leaves behind. This imprint sometimes is a physical symbol or certificate, something that physically confirms the journey one took to find enlightenment or reach a place of great holy significance.
While I understand this, I thought of how the internal footprint left behind is actually found on our hearts, on our thought patterns and beliefs. The remnants are tasted and felt, for years to come. They stir in different situations, sometimes when we hear a certain song or in my case, read a certain book.
Something has stirred deep within me since I began reading this book and I cannot ignore it. I feel it’s almost the voice of my inner child, crying out to be heard, excitedly she tries for my attention. Almost as if to say, Yes! Finally! You remember me, I’ve been here this whole time, where did you go! Come back to me!
And I realise as I write this; I have missed myself. The remnants of my own personal pilgrimage have stirred, the flavours of my experiences rising again and with these, so many emotions and feelings. I realise I miss so much of myself, my sense of adventure and carelessness. I don’t even know where I set it all down, where along my life in these past 6 years I set down my torch and my satchel, and settled. I don’t know where along the trail I traded my exuberance for responsibility, or where I decided to play it safe. How did I let this happen? That zest and fire I had as a younger adult, I seem to have left it behind. Can you relate? Have you ever had a moment where you’ve realised you’ve wandered far from who you once were?
It’s okay, we’re in this together.
As I think back to my journey in Israel, I remember the sensations and emotions vividly. I remember the way I stopped to take in the warm desert wind, allowing it to carry my hair and sway my body. I remember the excitement, and how wide my eyes must’ve been taking in the sights of the Jewish quarter markets for the first time. The shine of the jewels, and the colours of the tapestries! The sounds of children squealing with delight and the chatter of Rabbi’s on the streets, the bustle of life in an ancient city. I remember the feeling as if it were yesterday.
And yet, at 25 years old I sit here in almost a daze, writing this piece in a state of complete nostalgia. Equally though, I feel hopeful, present and grateful for this wholesome reminder of who I truly am. It’s as though my brilliant mind has been able to connect two parts of myself again to each other – the adventurous and fearless child within me, the spiritually charged pilgrim who wanted to experience all of what this wonderful world had to offer, with the wiser and more calculated woman I am today.
This is an aha! moment for me and I hope you’re finding a home in these words as well. I hope these words invite you to reconnect with yourself. I hope these words remind you of the parts of yourself you may have forgotten. I hope you allow yourself to feel the emotions that rise in this moment, let this be your selê. Pause, chew, process, ponder for a moment.
The idea for Shekinah House has been developing for years now, and here is the first materialisation; and you are totally invited in. The past 24 hours for me have brought so much clarification and inspiration that here I sit, creating the space I have dreamt of for years; because really, why was I even waiting?
Sometimes, pilgrimage is not an adventure to Israel, sometimes it is the quest to find oneself in the midst of a busy life. Some times it’s the resolution to discover yourself, for the first time. Sometimes, it’s simply a promise to yourself to live as fully and wholly as you can. If you’ve read this far, chances are these words are calling to you deeply and they resonate in some way. Join me in this moment and allow yourself to dream again. Connect with your inner child, that fearless, playful child who knew nothing about societal expectations or illusions. Connect and experience… come home.
I often say to my dear friend, who recommended I read The Alchemist, in our frequent discussions about life’s journey that nothing we do spiritually or for ourselves is ever wasted. There is always a return and our work is always working for us. There is a term I feel describes this perfectly. It’s a mathematical equation that has often been related to life experiences, called Fibonacci. As an illustration, it appears as a never ending spiral, and the best description for it in relation to life or pilgrimage is that the choices we make or the experiences we choose to have, arrive for us again in our own future. These choices are, for lack of a better word, deposits.
The deposits we make return in the form of reminders, déjà vu or it may even be that moment you have when you realise you’ve felt this way before. Your past self is your future self, they are one and the same although experiences and time may separate the two by matter. We may change and grow, evolving within ourselves if we dare to, but we are still as one with the child we were to the elder we will become.
Fibonacci is a beautiful illustration because it directly correlates with what I’ve said to my friend many many times. Nothing we do on a spiritual plane is ever wasted. No prayer, no promise, no affirmation or no plea to God or the universe is ever wasted. It’ll return to you another day, as though it were a boomerang. Sometimes we are aware of how these things are working for us, and sometimes we are numb to the sensation. Time may pass and we might wonder if it did any good getting on our knees or making those promises to ourselves. But precious one, it is never wasted. Your word is an energy deposit and it will find it’s way back to you when you need it most or when you need the reminder, or when divine timing allows the word to come to fruition. Fibonacci.
What we must understand about Fibonacci, is that we are feeding our own futures with the words of our present. We must take responsibility for the language we use to shape how these prayers and affirmations manifest for us. We must be clear and concise, careful not to contradict ourselves. For example, I should not ask for a brand new car, and then in one week when I haven’t yet received it change my words and start complaining that I have no car, this is so annoying. As said in The Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
My journey in Israel taught me, at 19 years of age, that this world is limitless and my abilities are endless. It taught me there is so much to be grateful for and so much to experience, my life is a gift and there is so much abundance available to me.
I’m grateful in this moment for the reminder that the sense of awe and truth I knew at 19 is still available to me now and will never not be available. This reminder has served me in many ways these past few days. For one, I’m sitting here writing this. Secondly, it’s allowed me to find great clarity about the Shekinah House project, which is something that has danced in my mind for years. Thirdly, it has reminded me of the dreams and callings I set aside over the past 6 years. I feel revived and ready to dream again. This comes after months of processing trauma, releasing and healing. This comes after years of ignoring my inner child and placing the needs and expectations of others above my own. This comes after 7 months of therapy, deep inner work and countless meditations, all which at the time felt fruitless; yet now in one moment, I feel it all coming together.
Simply, this has happened in divine timing.
Pilgrimage is never ending, it cannot be confined to just one experience or journey. It is not just one plane ride to the Middle East as much as it is not a hike across the desert. It is the never ending, spiralling process that comes from making a decision to better understand yourself and your relationship with this experience of life. We are here to experience and witness every day and every moment.
My hope for the Shekinah House is that this space allows you to dream again, discover yourself and experience love. As I share intimate details of my own journey, I invite you to join me. I don’t know exactly what will come of this, but I’m excited to let it unravel how it is meant to.
I think it also goes without saying now that I highly recommend The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho if you haven’t read it yet. Allow yourself the time and space to sit with this book and let it digest.
And sit with yourself, allow the space, to ask your inner child what dreams and experiences does he/she want to have? Nothing is impossible.
Welcome Home, precious ones. Welcome Home.