(804) 928-3189 BethHedquist@gmail.com
Pilgrimage: A Call to Compassion

Pilgrimage: A Call to Compassion

The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. The suffering in this world can feel overwhelming at times.   Violence, cruelty, spite and indifference abound. Yet when we turn to spiritual teachings to comfort us in the face of suffering, it can be confusing.   I have long had difficulty with the Crucifix and the relationship Christianity has with suffering. From my perspective, admittedly clouded by misconceptions of God and religion, it seemed to glorify and romanticize suffering, and shame us for our denial of God/Christ. I have pretty much avoided crucifixes since I was a little girl growing up Catholic. And yet while on pilgrimage in Italy I found myself sitting in The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, and it was the crucifix that captured my attention. There was Jesus, hanging on the cross and bleeding, and I found myself sitting there in that pew, immersed in a deep contemplation of suffering.   Sitting in that church the question for me was not “why is there evil”, but rather “How do I respond to it? How do I heal it? How do I ease the suffering in this world?” And the answer surprised me.   That still small voice reminded me that it is not my job to heal, fix or rescue the sufferer, to take away their pain, or even to prevent their suffering, but to support that person in finding their way to God through their suffering. It is the direct experience of God that profoundly heals, transforms, and dissolves suffering. Not me. That doesn’t mean God is punishing us, or that he “allows” suffering in...
Excavating Your Extraordinary Life

Excavating Your Extraordinary Life

When walking a spiritual path, it can be easy to think you are really good at being in the present moment, letting go of attachment, and all of that holier than thou garbage.   I even wrote about being in the present moment in my last blog! And it’s true that presence is a great antidote to fear of the unknown, something I’ve been working with on this pilgrimage in Italy.   But the ego is clever and cunning. How quickly I adjusted to navigating in an unknown land, and began the process of consuming extraordinary experiences. One. Right. After. The. Other.   While it’s easy for me to judge those who seek to acquire status symbols of material value, my drug of choice is seeking new lands, new sights, new experiences.   So after a week of heart-opening, soul-expanding connection with Pathwork friends on the charming southern coast of Italy, I have driven the spectacular Amalfi Coast, gazed in amazement at the unbelievable view from the top of the island of Capri, walked through the 2000 year old ruins of Pompeii, contemplated the sanctity and inevitability of death in the human bone covered walls of the Crypts of Rome, and survived walking for ten hours on a full day tour through the galleries of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, AND the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. It has all been amazing.   And I woke up EXHAUSTED today. I wonder why?   From my point of view, vacation is about relaxing. Travel is about learning and discovering.  And Pilgrimage is about allowing the journey...