I just came back from a month-long trip to Europe (which explains my silence on this blog), that led me to Lille (where I grew up), Paris (where I lived for 6 years), Lyon, Grenoble and beautiful Ardeche in France, London, Turkey, and Belgium. How good it is to travel and, once again, let one's mind lovingly embrace new places, new situations and new people, without grasping, without holding to any one of them, purely, simply, as they arise!
I was able to recognize once again how much traveling and living in different places has played a significant role in my spiritual awakening. Putting oneself in a new environment helps one strip down layers and layers of conditionings brought by one's native culture, traditions, and habits, and get down to what lays at the core of Life. Also, what an ever-renewed wonder to discover that wherever you are, whatever the skin color of the person you're talking to or the way they're dressed or what type of life they lead, you always will find in their eyes, unmistakenly, the exact same spark, this joy when our human essence recognizes itself in the other, this recognition of Life encountering Life!
Also, traveling to beautiful Turkey for a week allowed my friend Kathrin and I to see for ourselves the positive aspects (never, of course, even addressed in our Western, highly secular culture) of a culture more immersed than ours in its spirituality (call to prayer 5 times a day, etc). We found the Turkish people we met to be invariably open, respectful, ethical, and unforgettably hospitable! Turkey, we'll be back!