A few years back, I had one of those prescient moments and secured the name “Oregon Pilgrim” for my blog. I knew I wanted a word related to my favorite words: “journey,” “travel,” “wanderer,” but these were taken. I had re-read The Alchemist again and thought of the author’s pilgrimage over El Camino de Santiago. A pilgrimage is a journey or search that exceeds physical miles and trials and has a spiritual significance. That’s what I’m hoping for, I thought. I want a word which intimates body, soul, and spirit.

But “pilgrim” was taken.

I wouldn’t let the word go, though. It was perfect. What could I add to it to separate it from all the other spiritual searchers out there? For some reason, being a mother and a fan of Robert McCloskey’s picture books, I thought of Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, and A Day in Maine. All of those lovely books were so rooted in place. And somehow, miraculously, if securely rooted in a place, the ideas and words rise into the universal. Everyone relates. Everyone understands.

I thought of the years I’ve spent in the shadow of mountains, gazing at Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams as a girl and mentally naming off the Cascade mountains of Central Oregon as a mother – Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Three-fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood. Mt. Hood is the mountain that bridges my husband’s land and my own. Crossing west, it’s likely to rain and snow. Or, in the summer, the warm, humid air will hang heavy and rich. Crossing east, sage and juniper greets you as you descend into the dry, thin air. I remember the first moments when this high desert became beautiful to me. Growing up on the wet, murky side of the mountains, I thought lush, green forests and purple dark shadows were first in beautiful places. But the desert has its own spare beauty that overwhelms and overpowers first loves. I’m no longer so partial to the side of the range in which I grew up. Adding “Oregon” to “pilgrim” would firmly root it in a place. Though I hope to roam the country, even the world, home will always be home to me. I tried the words “oregon pilgrim” as a domain name. It was unclaimed. I pounded my virtual stake in the virtual west of blog names as a spiritual searcher firmly rooted in Oregon.

Typically, a pilgrimage is a journey to a shrine or other place of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, where a saint was born or died, a place of spiritual awakening or “calling”, or where an angel appeared or a miracle performed or witnessed.

I’m unsure if my story would fit the bill here.

But a pilgrimage can also be to a place of healing or a place of hearing.

This story is about both.

4 thoughts on “Oregon Pilgrim

  1. Don’t share your love for the high desert, buy enjoyed your description of your naming. Give me western Puget Sound, away from the shadow of Seattle, and I’m a happy man.


  2. Pingback: My Homepage
  3. Danielle, I read your article about how Title IX is helping your family on the billfold.com and I’m trying to get in touch with you. I’m a writer working on a new book about the people behind Title IX and I’d like to interview you. I can explain more on the phone or by email. Please contact me at sherry dot boschert at gmail dot com. Thanks!


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