Reflections on Vienna

photo 58It began with a new pair of shoes, as all magical stories do, and ended with a ride in a horse drawn carriage. Could this be a fairy tale? Quite possibly.  It doesn’t have a wicked witch, a prince or an evil spell but it does have: beauty, color, beginnings, middles and endings and a sense of story, of honoring and reflecting upon a ‘magical time’.photo 61

John O’ Donahue writes in ‘For the Traveler’:

“When you travel, you find yourself alone in a different way, more attentive now to the self you bring along… A new silence goes with you, and if you listen, you will hear what your  heart would love to say.”

While in Vienna and since returning home, I’ve been attempting to pay attention to what my heart would love to say. There is a theme that jumps out at me from the myriad of photos I took: Color. It catches my eye, stops me in my tracks and calls to me. My eyes were first drawn to it with the pair of shoes that beckoned to me from the street. It followed with the bounty of produce in the market (Naschmarkt), my turkish breakfast at the Nashmarkt Deli and on through the streets, paintings at the Albertina Museum, in the cemetery at Johan Strauss’s grave, at Klosterneuberg Monastery, along to the red leather lined interior of my horse drawn carriage ride on the final day of my travels.DSCN2098 DSCN2110 DSCN2106 DSCN2115 DSCN2262 DSCN2271 DSCN2274 DSCN2317 DSCN2459

The colors in Vienna surprised and delighted me. They caused me to wonder: “What colors do I bring to the world? How might I be a unique reflection of myself in service to the world?” I am enough: my being and character, hopes and dreams, thoughts and wonderings, musings and ponderings, the unfolding story of discovery, secret treasures, delight and wonder. “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.” Martha Graham

I am invited and encouraged to practice being more firmly grounded to the present moment. ‘I am here now.’ We began our retreat with this phrase.  I am here now:  to pay attention to my life and the lives of others around me. Daily we engaged as a community with readings, conversation, writing prompts and taking our cameras out into Vienna with the following archetypes to guide us:  The Pilgrim, The Monk, The Sage, The Artist, The Magician, The Sovereign, The Lover. My archetypes had a little chat with me near the end of our time in Vienna and asked to be granted their own unique color. My internal, creative imaginative author  granted them their wish:

“Sovereign, you are purple. Lover, you own red. Oh Sage, wise one, green is yours. Contemplative Monk, blue belongs to you. Bright golds and yellows belong to you Artist. Magician, you get your cloak and wand of white and Pilgrim, you are orange.”photo 48

What’s fascinating and intriguing to me is that all these colors began with my shoes, before I knew that we’d be spending time photographing and writing with the above archetypes. They called out to me from paintings, produce in the market, food on my plate, within the walls of the monastery, within the cemetery and out on the city streets. May I continue to honor the color I bring to the world and be a witness to the colorful souls within those whom I meet. My hope is that my time in Vienna won’t be simply an ‘isolated’ dip into a fairy tale like traveling adventure, but the opening and crossing of a threshold call to behold color and beauty within my daily life lived at home in Seattle, WA. That my way of being in the world will be continually shaped and transformed and lived out from the well of color that was offered to me in Vienna. Cheers, Salut, Sante, Prost!

Thanks to Christine Valters Paintner and

Kayce Hughlett

for leading myself and our fellow pilgrims into this delightful colorful world of Vienna.


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