Israel-The Temple of Pan and the Dancing Goats

How so very strange to have old memories that go way back in time to rooms with high windows and desks in rows and the smell of chalk. How peculiar to conjure up visions and facts about myths and Zeus and Greek gods. How startling to suddenly find myself in the very concrete place of their essence. My guide said we were going to the Temple of Pan. As a tourist, I surrender myself to new places and new things. Pan? Pan was a drawing from an eighth grade textbook, a man with the features of a goat. He was creature who played some sort of flute and represented the wild, nature, fertility, mischief, and spring. He wasn’t real but something very vivid I had memorized for the test on mythology at the end of a chapter.

The setting was right. We walked along the edge of the water. A fitting place for a wild creature of the outdoors. It turned out to be a spring, the source of the River Jordan. I was enchanted.

We climbed.

And we came upon something huge and impressive, the remains of the Sanctuary of Pan.

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How surreal on that blue sky, amber lit day to so clearly witness what was left of 19 BC place of worship built by the Herod to honor Caesar Alexander and the Roman gods.

The cave to The Underworld

The Romans of this time worshiped many different gods, almost all with a connection to nature. Their practices were pagan and by today’s standards very crude.

I wonder, now that I am back home in supposedly a civilized modern environment , was God at The Sanctuary of Pan. I was taught during my Catholic upbringing that God is everywhere and has been since the beginning of time. If an old woman, just like me, had sat by the the spring that fed The Jordan River back then in 19BC, would God be with her or would He decide she didn’t count because she didn’t worship in the right way?

I wonder about the ancient Native Americans who said prayers of thankfulness instead petitions of want. Was God with them or did He think they were too primitive?

I wonder about my Muslim friend in India, Rashid, who told me we are are all united by the God who created us all. Is God with him or has He chosen to dismiss Rashid’s method of worship?

I wonder about my gay friends who have lovingingly married their partners. Is God with them or is He withholding His love because of their love?

I wonder about people in other political groups or countries. Is God with them or is God a political creature who takes sides?

I wonder about myself, an old lady without a religion who has done a lot of bad things and will probably do more. Is God with me or has He given up because He sees me as unworthy?

Like the old lady who sat by the source of The Jordan river before the birth of Christ, I, too, look for God.

In the stillness, I find Him. He is always here. He is with me. He chooses to be with us no matter who we are.

Copyright@ 2020 The Autonomous Traveler All rights reserved.

70 days, 7000 Miles-Days 33 and 34

July 27 & 28, 2001


I’m no longer worried about how I look. Gave that up about two weeks ago. I’m good enough just the way I am…… acceptance.  I feel strong.  I have been brave all my life. Yes, I have done cowardly things  but I have had enough courage to never give up hope.  There is a Buddhist quote, “fall down seven times, get up eight”.  I have fallen a lot put I always get up and go forward.

It rained so I am staying another day in Butte, Montana in a motel. It’s nice to be in a regular bed and the room phone gives me a chance to call my family and to be in contact with the places that handle my bills so I can send out checks in the right amount.

Staying put. Flowing, not hurrying. A bookstore appears. And then another and then one more. Heaven on a rainy day.

I see that Julia Cameron the author of The Artist’s Way, has another book, Heart Steps. I find a chair and sit down with this  book of “Prayers and Declarations for the Creative Life”. Praying has been on my mind.  Prayers for my smoking tires. Prayers of gratitude for being able to take this trip. Prayers to become a writer because writing has been a part of me since I was a little girl.

Julia Cameron wrote,'”I surrender my anxiety and my sense of urgency………I open my heart to God’s timing. I release my deadlines, agendas, and stridency to the gentle yet often swift pacing of God……..As I relax into God’s timing, my heart contains comfort. As I allow God to set the tone and schedule of my days, I find myself in the right time and place, open and available to God’s opportunities.”

Wow! I buy this book!

I moved on to the next book store, find a book about growing old and another comfy chair. The author wrote about having value in one’s later years by finding purpose.

“Those who have found some purpose in life do have one conviction in common; they all have faith in their intuitive sense of direction……..Great healers have always understood that intuition is the conscious voice of a deeper wisdom within us and our ability to live a satisfying existence depends on our willingness to surrender to that voice, wherever it might lead us.”

What a great few days of insight.  I have always believed in the saying, “when we are ready, a teacher will appear”.

And there is one last thing today.  I pray for peace because there has been  a lot of conflict in my life.  I’m hoping for the skills to express my needs and feelings more effectively so people don’t hurt me and I don’t hurt them. I was never taught how to do that.  Now I’m confident that knowledge will come.

Thank you, God, for this journey and all my blessings.


70 Days, 7000 Miles, Day 23

July 17, 2001


Today I crossed The Crow Indian Reservation. I drove 44 miles through a vast, dry western landscape with no towns or houses. It frightened me because I didn’t see any vehicles either. I rode out the fear because I knew God was with me. I was very much alone and very much in His hands. I willed myself to be alright and I made it.  Thankfully, it was His will, too.

I remember one time, my mom who had a strong, faith told me not to mention God so much.  My dad, a WWII vet, used to say that there were no atheists in foxholes.  I have people in my life who would find my reliance on a supernatural presence very weird. “Live and let live” is my mantra. I expect the same. I am steadfast in my beliefs and they have served me well.

I took a citified day in Billings, Montana. I got my oil changed, my hair cut and shopped for a long time in a Super Walmart. After driving through small towns with little stores, going to Walmart was like visiting a very interesting museum. I walked down the aisles admiring the colorful packaging and the variety of spending possibilities.  It made me realize what years of American consumerism had done to me.


I stayed in a KOA campsite that evening.  I felt like a vagrant with my tent among the large RV’s. They were the size of buses and had dragged behind them expensive vehicles which were way more classier than my used Dodge minivan. Needless to say, I didn’t feel as comfortable in this campgrounds as I had at the Cottonwood.

70 Days, 7000 Miles, Day 2

June 24, 2001


A very busy day in Ottawa. Woke up. Great breakfast prepared by M.  In  M.’s car by 10:00. Camping store. Canadians have great camping equipment. Lunch at The Canadian National Art Gallery.

Ottawa is so beautiful.  The capital city presents everything so well and there is so much to see and do.  Do  local people take the time to really enjoy it? Do they take it for granted? I don’t. I love this urban option two hours from my rural home.

Do I live in the right spot?  A very conservative area with some but few cultural outlets.  But the people there are genuine and kind. Would I be able to travel if  I moved someplace else and got into debt? It will be interesting to read this journal entry when I finish my trip. Feeling a little anxious at this moment. I have a strong faith but it needs a little restoring at this moment.

Hmm, my faith. I believe in God.  I have witnessed too many coincidences that affirm this path.  But I am a freelance spiritual being, respecting all religious perspectives  even the choices of atheists.  Live and let live.  Some denounce those of us who say we believe in God as hypocrites because we are just as flawed as the rest of the world.  I am a self proclaimed selfish diest freely admitting that I have committed probably most of the sins out there. But having spent many moments in my life alone and very scared, I find courage and an ever present companionship with a loving God.  I wouldn’t be making this trip if it wasn’t for Him.

At the art museum we saw a Klimt exhibit. He believed in truth, a rebel in his time.  Art nouveau, symbolism.  Birth, youth, old age, death.  Hope I, hope II, hope II and so forth.  Was he trying to tell us that it is better to produce what we believe in even though others disagree? Be true to yourself? He stuck to his convictions and now he is appreciated and revered. Passion, color, life.  He set his own course. He died at the age 53 of a stroke and pneumonia due to the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918.  Art for him was freedom, the way it should be.


We had snacks and wine in an open air cafe, the kind I love. We went to a French music concert. The temperature was perfect. The air came in contact with my skin touching it softly and lovingly, ending a perfect Ottawa day.

Copyright 2018 @ The Autonomous Traveler