The Saunterer and Host: Mirror Images of Each Other at the Lintel of Humankind’s Love.
I am the respite for those who saunter the globe. I am the sacred guardian waiting at the portal to welcome the saunterer with open arms.
Henry David Thoreau wrote that “sauntering, which is a word that is beautifully derived ‘from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la SainteTerre,’ to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander… Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre — without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere.”
Saunterers are the threads that bind and remind us that all inhabitants on this Earth exist as a whole community. They travel at a leisurely pace, and often their currency is simple kindness. Normalcy is kept at a distance, but change is always welcomed. They stitch together people, countries and cultures.
They do not need to see the end of the road to know they are okay — better than okay, because their soul remains intact and their spirit vibrant with their sauntering.
My sons and I welcomed cyclists, who may have ridden 30 or 100 miles that day, for many years. We served as a welcoming light to travelers, standing at a holy threshold: Come in from the outdoor, saunterer, and tell us your stories. Break bread, slake your thirst, warm your bones, rest. Come. Rest. I am replenished of Life with your stories.
Natalia and Christian left their home in Ushuaia, Argentina on a VW bus seven years prior to arriving at our beach house. After three years of traveling throughout South America, they sailed to Central America, hitchhiked to Mexico, rode bikes to Alaska, and were on their homeward journey.
Eric and Susan were both legally blind, but in different ways. They first rode tandem, then each on their own bike, from Arizona to Canada, to prove disabilities should never stop you.
Some cyclists carried musical instruments and taught my sons new songs or taught us phrases from Slovakia or Bosnia. Together we’d look at the map to see countries of where they’d been or maps of where they were going, and almost always shared a meal.
Oh, how their stories fed my wild, feral self. Their spirit of adventure inspired an ardent need to feel the wind in my hair and the great expansive star-strewn sky above me. I am also a wandering gypsy who sees “gas in my tank like money in the bank” to quote Eddie Vedder. And in the middle of my wanderings, I might find a host.
I believe there is a lost word for this act of hosting as a sacred path. I feel it in my bones as an ancient, deeply embedded calling to host as graciously and generously as my Early California ancestors did 200 years ago. It was said they would give a weary traveler a posh bed for as many days or weeks as needed, gold coins lay by the bedside, horses awaited in the stable, wine at the fiestas, and solid companionship.
Their word was their bond, and they would give everything to the guest. Never would you eat until the guest was served. I still live by this manifesto, and taught my sons to carry on with deference to the traveler, the holy saunterer.
One year ago, I moved to the Eastern Sierra Mountains and opened a vacation home with my honey to welcome those who travel for the pleasure of seeing beauty in the world. Our guests have hailed from far-flung places such as Denmark, Korea, or England, and some merely traveled a few hours by car. All of them comment on the paradise found in the easy pace, quietude and heartfelt hospitality.
My soul sighs deeply. I breathe in the knowledge that to follow my calling is to answer my Divine Essence’s yearning to shine.
I bring comfort to those angels disguised as bohemians: those who travel the earth as a saint in search of mystic, delightful surprises, and those who travel nomadic with no intention of settling, happiest when there are no bearings.
“I accept lostness forever,” said Jack Kerouac.
Together, the saunterer and host, we are mirrored images of each other at this portal, this lintel of humankind’s love. We walk the same sacred path, each serving the other. All of us earnest to remove blinders of myopic perspective until everything is fresh, inspiring and free of judgment as we roll and ramble on our trips around the sun.
Jamie Della has a writer’s soul and gypsy spirit. Her essay ‘The Wild Feminine Freed #Metoo’ appeared in Riverdale Ave Book’s anthology of #MeToo stories. She is the author of eight books (published as Jamie Wood), a blog, ‘Herbal Journeys’ column for Witches & Pagan magazine, and articles for several magazines and destinations. When not writing, she’s at her potter’s wheel, teaching at women’s retreats, guiding Goddess rituals, backpacking, road-tripping, or hosting AirBnB guests. Sometimes you can find her in the hammock by the creek running from the Eastern Sierra to the Quaking Aspen grove in her backyard.