>Angela Mullins, an accomplished flutist who has performed and taught around the country, came to Goddard with a yearning to go on a pilgrimage – a sacred journey to a site of religious and spiritual significance. So she set out to study pilgrimage, which she defined as “an intentional journey in which the pilgrim communes with the divine, communes with the divine, contemplates his/her life path, and renews his/her connection to the sacred.” Inspired by a pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago in Spain before she started the IMA program, she focused her IMA studies on pilgrimages to China, Tibet, Bolivia, Peru, and even Paris. The journeys culminated in her thesis, Awakening to Awakening: An Intimate Exploration of Pilgrimage, a comprehensive exploration of the traditions, psychology, and religious roots of pilgrimage, and a beautifully-written memoir of her own journeys that also includes her sparkling photographs.
Mullins explains that the study “allowed me to integrate parts of myself that never integrated before. When I first went on my original pilgrimage – to Santiago – that itself unraveled my life in a powerful way, and I realized that writing was going to be really important to my life, but the process of studying pilgrimage at Goddard and integrating my own experience to the depths of my soul, and my writing and study, enabled me to realize my work and life don’t have to be separate things.” Along the way, she also took her bamboo flute with her on many journeys, and played around the world, offering her music and collaborating with local musicians. “Being in other cultures, I learned how music served culture, and how music is beyond high art and is its own pathway to healing.”
In addition to her music, she awakened the writer and photographer in her. She says she only started taking her writing seriously right before she started at Goddard. “Up to that point, I was a closet journaler, and would have smacked somebody if they dared to read it, but going on that first pilgrimage, and realizing writing would be an important part of understanding pilgrimage showed me how to follow writing wherever it took me, and how writing was its own pilgrimage path.” What she saw not only infused and opened up her writing, but her photography also as she took thousands of pictures on her travels.
Her pilgrimage continues in several forms. Right after she finished her thesis at the end of 2007, she went to Pisco, Peru to volunteer for Hands on Disaster Response. She currently is on a journey through massage school, and she’s studying yoga, looking all the time for how these healing arts enhance and integrate into her writing, photography, and music, and in how she serves her community.
While she continues to teach flute at a studio in her home, perform, and do arts outreach in Washington, D.C. public schools – taking music into the classroom to help students find their own voices – she says her journey in the IMA program and around the world has “taken music from where it was before my life – as an intellectual process – and taken it back into my heart and back into my body. It’s also opened up my whole life so that everything I do – music, writing, photography, yoga, massage, everything – now comes from that place within me.”
Photos (from top): 1) Walking along the Camino near Pamplona, Spain; 2) Inside the Inca Ruins at Ollantaytambo, Peru; 3) Flying over the Himalayas: the Rooftop of the World; 4) Sharing melodies inside the Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China; 5) Friends from the Camino, in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain; 6) Connecting with the music inside Templo de la Luna, near Cusco, Peru