Stop me if you've heard this one....In 2008, I went on a pilgrimage in Spain. It was a big deal for me and I talk about it a lot. One of the symbols of the Camino de Santiago is the pilgrim's scallop shell, and many pilgrims purchase one along the route to put on their pack or around their necks to proclaim their status. One of the few embellishments I took with me when I went was the first gift my husband gave me, about 30 years ago; which is this little shell necklace. You won't believe it, but it didn't even occur to me until I was sitting in a cafe in Santiago at the end of the journey that I had had my scallop shell all along.
The Pilgrimage route abounds with images of Santiago de Compostela, the patron saint of Spain, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James,_son_of_Zebedee
who in the guise of Santiago Peregrino (aka Pilgrim) carries with him the medieval equivalent of the hobo's spotted handkerchief on a stick, and his drinking gourd.The other day, I finally got around to throwing out the cactus that the kids had nurtured when small (Hint: cactus make a great botanical choice since they can survive without being watered for years--I kid you not). As I was pitching them in the garbage, I rescued this little Buddhist traveller who had decorated one of the cactus gardens, and noted with surprise his drinking gourd and hobo's pack. When we bought him at the dollar store, I didn't really pay any attention to him at all. He sat there, a pilgrim precursor, for 15 years until I finally woke up to his presence.
They say that wherever you go, there you are. I say, wherever you go, there you may have been already. Life (my life, anyway) has a tendency to be cyclical like that.