I’m in Shikoku, doing the 88 temple pilgrimage. 四国八十瀉八おへんろ。
As cliche as it sounds this pilgrimage has been more about who I’ve met along the way than the physical temples I’ve visited.
Nothing brought this to life more for me than an experience I had at Temple 75. Under the main temple they have a 90m tunnel that you get to walk through in darker, than dark black. There is absolutely NO light. To make your way through the tunnel you just keep your left hand on the wall and follow it as it curves. It freaked me out. It was like a piece of art that REALLY made you feel something.
Afterward, I was reading that the experience was supposed to represent life.
In what way exactly?
Is it to remind us that no one knows where they are going in this life? Is it to signify that we have less control then we think? Is it about trust? Blind faith? Still piecing together the metaphor….
For me, the experience made me think about connections. And that if I had another person down in that dark dark tunnel, holding my hand as we inched our way along that it wouldn’t have been so bad.
Along the pilgrimage I’ve met many people that have been that person, holding my hand in the dark, dark tunnel.
They have given me slippers, orange slices, Japanese lessons and bear hugs. Truth. A Japanese woman gave me a “grandmother” strength hug. Unprompted from me. It was amazing.