I thought I might like to be a sojourner—a word I’ve come across this morning that is not in my regular vocabulary. I do journey a lot, and embark on some transforming pilgrimages, spiritual or artistic quests, eccentric jaunts, quiet wanderings, exhilerating voyages, intellectual or culinary explorations, contented roaming. Few treks.
Wayfaring sounds particularly jaunty—with the wind in one’s hair, a picnic of olives, feta, ripe tomatoes, and oregano packed in one’s side-baskets—though it means simply journeying or traveling by road. The term is said to be somewhat archaic, which suits me.
Expeditions can be great fun, if more scientific— setting off with compasses and spyglass and thick boots to excavate earth-crusted Roman spoons, to photograph the transit of Venus, to climb the pyramids at Teotihuacan (where atop the Temple of the Moon you find a little cart selling heavenly popsicles), to chart some northern fjord seeded with oysters.
But sojourning seems to be after all less thoughtful or wholehearted; something done in passing. A temporary stay, a visit for a time. Boarding in a house, school, or college, for the purpose of receiving instruction. Perhaps apt after all, since my journeys always end too soon, all encounters in distant places though vital are fleeting.
And which of us is not a sojourner in this world? Inhabiting the realms of grace for all too short a while. The stay always better in the company of a fellow traveler with floppy ears . . .
image: Pierre Bonnard with Dachsund, 1941