In this essay, it is my pleasure to share with you a dialogue with writer and nature photographer Bernie Krausse about a very special pilgrimage – “the pilgrimage of life”. Bernie regularly takes extended journeys that have both a physical and spiritual component to them and are deeply transforming on all levels. Bernie currently shares his thought provoking posts, accompanied by beautiful photographs, on his Facebook profile.
This will not be your typical interview or topic. In fact many people will have never even considered what we are going to be talking about here today. “The pilgrimage of life” that we will be talking about, will have never been, nor will ever be personally explored by most. It is a journey, but not like you think. The message and lessons it carries, can touch us all in special ways where our consciousness growth and spiritual evolution is concerned. That is why I am honored to sit down with Bernie and share with all of you this special conversation.
EVITA: Bernie, thank you so much for taking this time to be here and share this conversation with the readers of Evolving Beings. I am always deeply moved by the wisdom, depth and alternate way of thinking that you provide wherever you go, no matter the topic.
Your sense of peace, stillness and awareness is so rare, and unmistakable as something that many people hope to one day accomplish. This is just one of the reasons why I am so happy that we could have this chat before you embark on a very special journey in your life. So to begin with, can you share what you will be doing in just a few short weeks, along with Stacey Mathews.
BERNIE: Hi Evita ~ Thank you for the wonderful introduction. It’s fun to be here among our evolving friends to share with you all a continuous and on-going adventure that we collectively call Life. This is my current chapter in my ever expanding Story.
Stacey and I will excitedly engage ourselves with Nature and the Moment as we walk the crest of the Appalachian Mountains between the unique and ever-changing, but yet, connected environments of Alabama and Maine. We will flow gently with the softness of the permeable landscape, absorbing the emanations of its essence. We will not only receive those communications that are pure of heart, but will radiate our excitations back into the earth, making the world a better place to live in.
Anything that is negative will become transmuted into the positive. Fears will be faced and loved and shall fall away with the next breath and step forward. Each step will then be a transformation where the inspiration of the moment will be re-broadcasted, creating a chain reaction where all sentient life will assimilate new frequencies into their Being, raising them to the pinnacle of mountain fresh experiences. We are going for a walk in the woods through a long green tunnel.
By reflecting upon the Nature that is before us, we will see and embody our own personal Nature where our souls will shine in connection to the stars in the sky that we will be sleeping under. The mystery of the great outdoors shall be our warming blanket.
EVITA: And Bernie if we factor in time, which of course so many of us in the physical are tied to, how long do you expect this journey to take you?
BERNIE: We will begin our quest in Alabama near the Georgian border on February 24th and plan to hike 285 miles to Springer Mountain, which is the official starting point of the Appalachian Trail. Following the ever present white blazes initially into the Great Smoky Mountains, we will cover a total of 14 states and 2,175 miles. Therefore, we will probably be hiking over 2,500 miles this spring and summer over a span of 6 months. We would like to step into the easement of the Moment without the hindrance of time, where no friction or hardship exists. Grace is then born by catching the waves of our purified intentions.
EVITA: Bernie, I have to say I call this nothing less than “The Pilgrimage of Life” and I will tell you why. You are taking your life into your own hands and going with it. You are not sitting by making ANY excuses. There is no talk or excuses of money, or food or shelter or anything! You are literally just picking up and going with life. I wonder what the world would look like if more people acted on their dreams in such a way…any thoughts?
BERNIE: “The pilgrimage of Life” and living it, as you speak of Evita, comes from being true to your feelings as they arise. When we drop the habitual patterns and routines of daily living, and just move beyond the standardized conditioning that the current world leadership celebrates, one finds the freedom to place one’s attention on the unexpected. Everything one encounters then becomes a wonderful surprise, because we become open to that which we are resonating with and to that which we are drawing into our life experience. One develops the faith that everything is perfect as it is encountered.
We are here to experience and process lessons that allows stuck and out-dated energy to flow once again. When the dams have been dismantled, and the fog lifts, we become excited to sense the beauty in our every day scenery. No two moments will ever be seen as the same. Everything and everyone is unique where we are exploring different angles and positions in relationship to the rest of the universe.
The long distance trail is truly a path that allows a pilgrim to find its temple and shrine along any point of the route in contrast to the finishing line at the end of the rainbow in Katahdin, Maine. Gold is therefore found in the Now where we have surrendered to the process of living and feeling fully. Nothing is held back. One bursts forth then with the energy that we transduce into the sparks that fly from the love we produce into this dimension.
Money is truly not a factor in such a journey because it is cheaper to live outdoors and to purchase that which is necessary as a tool to fulfilling one’s intentions. A trekker can give away everything they own except for the pack on their backs, or can store those things they deem as valuable for continuing their life beyond the Odyssey of the trail.
The Appalachian Trail is filled with simple opportunities to resupply no matter what diet one partakes in. I have seen thru hikers live essentially off of extra food dropped into hiker boxes by those who have too much food they no longer want or require. Shelters or lean-to’s can now be found and utilized just about everyday along the path. Some people do not even bring tents or tarps for this reason. We are moving beyond a time of sleeping in tents that keep us separated from our environment. It is fear that drives us indoors. More and more hikers are finding the pleasure in sleeping under the stars. When the weather is uncomfortable, then a simple 12 ounce light weight tarp can be utilized to protect us from the elements that we shy away from.
The purpose of any pilgrimage is then to rediscover ourselves by moving beyond the shackles that keep us truly from living an authentic life. If everyone were to fully accept their feelings, we would all be on an exponential path of expansion where newly acquired knowledge will shift our courses and paradigms towards new frontiers of discovery. We would see each person we meet as an opportunity for growth instead of being swallowed up by a moment of fear, apprehension, and mistrust. When censorship is truly forgiven, we will collectively reabsorb lost energy and follow our intuition into an unknown universe that we create. From the dissolving bonds upon the circles of fate that keeps one in a linear dimension, we shall rise vertically to higher orbits that lead us towards our ultimate destiny.
Therefore, “Excuses be gone.” They can be investigated to reveal our chains of burden. Break the chains and you shall be free.
EVITA: Well, I have to be honest, I love walking and I love hiking, and having done only full day hikes, I cannot begin to imagine what a person really goes through on an experience like this where the journey lasts months. You have nowhere to be everyday, nothing to do, but fully immerse yourself in nature, be one and be in the moment. Does it get any better?! Bernie, what calls you the most to this experience?
BERNIE: Everything beckons. Oneness calls. The simplicity brings me back again and again. The undertaking allows the old me to die which leads to the birth of a completely new perspective. As I release fully realized knowledge and add new ingredients to my freshest recipe of the day…… I feel as I am living on another planet. Each moment becomes an alien experience because it embodies ideas that are lived from outside the box of normalcy. We become one of a kind.
Upon the Journey, I meet kindred souls who are not afraid to voice that which has been invited. I see people who learn to stop searching and to begin living. I wake up to hear the birds sing and for the wild to fully digest their sustenance. The plants reach for the sky and slowly but delicately unfold their blossoms to expose the essence of their hearts.
One learns to listen to the beat of their own heart which opens the door to the greater rhythms of Nature. Senses become enhanced and the body releases that which has been held onto. All that is important then enters at once, and there is no place you would rather be. One then goes on an amusing ride that is powered by infinity. The prejudice to experience something particular is replaced then by the experience that is gifted before us that we shall truly resonate with. A true intimate relationship endures.
EVITA: What I find incredible about this whole journey and what stirs my spirit within when I think of it, is that aside from the clothes on your back and the limited supplies, you are completely cut off from the material world. I have to say, I CAN imagine that kind of freedom, and as great as the many advances we have today are, my spirit still calls me to the freedom that is only found in the places where nature runs free.
This is why I think many people in our world today cannot even entertain the idea of such a journey, as the happiness of life for people today revolves so much around the things of the material world. Do you think it will be possible for the human race to one day come back to living more in union with nature and see beyond the illusions of the material world to connect to true happiness?
BERNIE: There is an ongoing resurrection of spirit that is occurring both within us and outside of our selves. As people begin to face their demons and bring them back into the fold of loving freedom, they will begin to see a connection to all that which they focus upon.
Ultimately, they will become their environment because one will see their reflection in everything. Those who search outside of themselves in Nature will begin to see the beauty that is imbedded in their surroundings. And from the beauty they take in, they too will find the beauty that they are seeking inside themselves. Therefore, as humans begin to watch what they are doing from the directions of both inside and outside… both types will meet in the center where Humans will once again deserve the title of Beings. Life then becomes a grand meditation of on-going motion and transformation.
EVITA: Now, what is even more astonishing about this whole experience is that most people cannot even fathom doing something like this once, but this is not even the first time for you, you have done this before. When and where was the last pilgrimage of this nature taken?
BERNIE: This will be the second time that I will have hiked the Appalachian Trail. The first time was in the year 2000 when my quest entailed the blending of mind, body, and spirit, where the goal was to go as fast and as fluently as I so desired. I succeeded in finding a balancing point and flowed through the trail in three months and two days time. However, this year, the intention will be to transcend time and just feel our way across the continent.
Last September, Stacey Mathews and I finished hiking the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail from Mexico to Canada across the States of California, Oregon, and Washington. This too was my second completion of this specific journey. Stacey began her walking vocation in 2003 when we hiked the Continental Divide Trail along the ridge-lines of the Rocky Mountains. In 2004 we thru hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail that follows the Canadian border from the Olympic outer coast of Washington State to Glacier National Park in Montana.
EVITA: Having gone through that experience, what were some of the greatest lessons or breakthroughs that you experienced about your life or life in general?
BERNIE: Learning to Walk in Stillness has become my Mantra and Motto. It has become a means for personal transformation and awakening. No two journeys are ever the same when a fresh pair of eyes is worn. A pilgrimage gives one the opportunity to transcend one’s previous boundaries and to realize that we can do anything by surrendering to the flow of the waves that we personally propagate through our everyday intentions. As we release accumulated emotions of trapped feelings originating from both the past and the future, one’s will power returns, empowering us to move past the fears that hold an individual in bay.
Hiking day in and day out, one realizes that we are fueled by fully accepting the sensations that one’s environment sends out to us. If we hold anything back, we lose our power and we wind down. Walking in Nature brings us to life since it invigorates the soul, because it challenges us to feel our once neglected bodies. We feel our fears until there is no more fear. We feel the hot of the day and the cold of the night. We learn to love our food because it keeps us on our path. We learn to be thankful of water and to respect its source. Patterns present them-selves and the world comes into focus. The lessons upon the trail or pilgrimage of life are never ending and are unique for each individual.
We learn not only to love Nature once again…we learn to love our selves by stepping into our selves.
EVITA: When you share with people that you have done, or are doing something of this nature, what would you say is the biggest misconception people hold about it?
BERNIE: People think that doing something has to be difficult. The doing and the trying, is in truth, the definition of difficulty. Hiking thousands of miles is only as hard as we expect it to be.
If we learn to forgive our judgments and prejudices on how something should be done, we leave the realm of doing and merge with the essence of Being. There is no more trying….there is only that which we merge with.
EVITA: The wonder and awe of life can sometimes be found in the simplest of places. Many people still view nature as very “simplistic”, but in my opinion, on a deeper level it is anything but. On so many levels it surpasses our greatest technologies. So as you travel you will be moving as one through some of the most majestic areas on the planet. I know words are limiting, but if you could explain, what do you feel as you walk in between mountain peaks covered with snow, over fresh meadows or sleep right under the starry sky?
BERNIE: I feel that Nature surpasses our greatest technologies because it is simpler than the complexity of our societies. Everything that we sense can be tapped into. Everything contains energy; however, it’s just a matter of allowing it to resonate with us.
This then becomes our love for Nature…our bonding to our greater environment. It is a re-alignment from the knots and resistance of human cultures that broadcasts noises of friction at ever increasing magnitudes. The resulting tension then becomes the waste and the pain that the world feels and experiences. It hurts because it is convoluted and warped and has lost its innocence and purity.
When I summit the top of a mountain……the world truly comes into focus. I can sense both far and near. I can see where I came from and I can project where I am going. I can change my vantage point by simply walking to the next peak. But I have come to realize that if I change my scenery within, then the exterior world moves and morphs in relationship to my inner revelations. By inviting new energy from the stars and the heavens above, we create heaven on earth by giving Nature the essential energy to evolve, where all beings learn to see themselves more clearly.
We are all connected, and we can feed each other the most nutritional food known to the Universe. It is called Love. It has become my sustenance when I allow my Self to Walk in Stillness.
EVITA: Bernie, on behalf of myself here at Evolving Beings I wish you an amazing journey on this new “pilgrimage of life“. May it continue to expand you on all levels of your awareness. May it continue to add to your life valuable gifts, that you than share freely with others. May your consciousness grow as you connect deeper and deeper to the spiritual being that is you and truly understand the magnificence of your presence in this lifetime. Wishing you another deeply transformative journey. Namaste.