Trippinâ€™ as a Spiritual Experience
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
The strongest yearning Iâ€™ve ever felt was not for a per- son but for a place, a place Iâ€™ve never been.
In the Fall of 1996, I was invited on a business trip to the United Kingdom with a group of my favorite rocket scientists. I had a wonderful time with the research and development contingent of the Ministry of Defence, enjoying every moment of examining their prototypes Â and chatting over dinner with a couple of very handsome RAF pilots Â namedâ€”what else? â€” Trevor and Nigel.
The meetings were interesting, and Iâ€™ll always be grateful to the employee who kept a rare tray of ice cubes in her office fridge, â€œin case of Americansâ€ like me who couldnâ€™t fathom a hot carbonated Coke while everyone else had hot tea or coffee. That was fun, tooâ€”the way the Brits always have snacks during all their business meetings. Call it â€œtea and biscuitsâ€ if you wish, but I never went hungry during their Powerpoint presentations.
With every Â moment Â booked, Â there Â was Â no Â time Â for sight-seeing, unless you count staring out the foggy train window at the Â passing countryside and cemetery on the way to Farnborough every Â morning. Â The Â closest Â we Â came Â to Â sight- seeing was a visit to the Air Show area where we got an upclose look atâ€”and our pictures taken withâ€”the Thrust Super Sonic Car Â that Â set Â the Â Supersonic Â World Â Land-Speed Â Record Â of
763mph with its Rolls-Royce jet engines, so-cool cockpit, and aluminum wheels.
On the last day of planned meetings, my favorite scientistâ€”who later became a UN weapons inspector for his expertise in biological Â warfareâ€”told me my presence would not be required for the dayâ€™s Â meetings and suggested I see a little of London. Iâ€™d just started to examine my past lives and their effect on this one, so I had a few places in mind. I jumped on a tour bus and headed away from London to Stonehenge.
Our bus made three stopsâ€”Salisbury Cathedral, Stone- henge, and Bathâ€”and I got to know the people on my bus. I was the youngest by a good 30 years, and the sight of retirees hobbling around England with their canes stuck with me. I decided then and there that I did not want to wait until my elder years to travel.
At Stonehenge, Iâ€™d so looked forward to walking amid the stones, only to learn that I would have to stand at a distance, behind a rope, like all Â the other tourists. Iâ€™d expected to feel overjoyed by the sight of such an Â important place in my past lives, but instead, I simply felt sad. I couldnâ€™t Â explain it until years later when I saw a favorite house from my childhood and it was burned out, broken, destroyed. It was no more than a relic from the past, and it no longer belonged to me.
Then in Bath, I visited the Temple of Sulis and promptly took a Â wrong turn that separated me from my group while I purchased Scottish sweaters for my little girls. I lost my group and spent the next hours in a panic, finally locating my group as they drove away. I literally ran after my tour bus as it departed Bath.
On the bus, exhausted from my sprint and bruised from someoneâ€™s luggage that had fallen on my head, I sat wearily but pleasantly Â staring Â out Â at Â the Â beautiful Â countryside. Â At Â some point, we must have Â ventured close to Wales because as we started Â to Â make Â a Â turn Â on Â an Â isolated Â road, Â our Â tour Â guide pointed to the landscape in the distance.
â€œThere,â€ she Â said, Â â€œyou Â see Â the Â Black Â Mountains Â of Wales.â€
I followed her gesture and turned to look. A familiarity clutched my heart and twisted. I watched as they grew smaller and smaller in the distance, and fought the urge to ask to be let off the bus to make my way to them. I have never, not with any lover and not even with Â my children, felt the rush of longing that called to me from those mountains.
Several years later, I had the opportunity to return to the United Kingdom, again on business and this time with my husband in towâ€”and Â armed with the knowledge of a few more past lives though my husband Â made great fun of those sentiments. We flew into Gatwick, visited the Tower of London and all the regular tourist spots, then took a train to Â Bristol cross- country for my meetings, along the way blinking at the too-vivid colors of the grass and flowers.
My meetings wrapped up a day early, and we spent the next Â morning making my pilgrimage to the Glastonbury Tor, one of my favorite places on Earth. After that, we took a bus into the edge of Wales but time was running out, we had a train to catch back to London for Â morning meetings at Whitehall, and I never got to see much of the landscape that had called to me before. Missing that opportunity was a huge disappointment because Iâ€™d spent four hours in a past-life regression to 6th century Wales and I wanted to see where Iâ€™d spent my life and love with a Â soulmate named Dwn, whoâ€™d been my High Priest in every sense of the word. Somehow, being there, maybe Iâ€™d discover clues to who Dwn was in this lifetime and whether he was my husband or someone else. I never found out, but Iâ€™m pretty sure he wasnâ€™t my husband in this lifetime.
For me, travel has never been about the tourist spots. Itâ€™s a spiritual experience of discovery, both about other people and cultures and about myself. Iâ€™d rather spend my vacation dollars exploring the Roman Â ruins of a 1600-year-old church or stone circles or any other â€œsacredâ€ ground than some place with chintzy souvenirs.
And if I could go anywhere in the world? Iâ€™d like to see parts of Italy where my current novel-in-progress is set, which would be better if I could do that before I write the book but thatâ€™s not going to happen. And Iâ€™d like to visit the castles and wine country of France.
But mostly, Iâ€™d love to go back to England and visit Glastonbury and Stonehenge again, explore the nooks and crannies of Â rugged Wales, and most especially indulge myself in Scotland. So far, itâ€™s eluded me, but Iâ€™ve wanted to visit Scotland since I was a tiny girl. Itâ€™s time for me to do that. Time to go. Time to save my money and make plans for my next spiritual travel adventure.
But for now, I donâ€™t have the time or money. Iâ€™ll have to be a homebody a little longer. For now, Iâ€™ll allow myself a fantasy of second-best: me, sitting on the floor in front of the TV, watching Scotland on the Travel channel, with a buff hottie naked and hogtied on my floor with his head in my lap and me stroking his full head of hair.