Nothing is lost in the universe. // Angie Park November 22 2015

As Fall comes to a close with the Winter season at bay, I'm excited to share my Autumn adventures and inspirations with the Baum-kuchen family. When the air becomes crisp and the leaves begin to change its color—the direct visual and sensorial changes move me in a deeply visceral way.  It's a yearly reminder that time is moving forward, and I swallow its implications with tender, loving bittersweetness. For me, it's often a time of reflection and I love to spend time traveling during these months because it coincides so well with my inner yearnings. 

A little over two years ago, in the Autumn of 2013, I decided to walk the Camino deSantiago (a 500- mile pilgrimage route that spans across Spain) to recharge andreboot after I found myself exhausted from the New York work-life andgrind. It was a life changing experience, and one that would mark a pivotal time in my memory and alter my perception about how we live our lives.


A lot happens over two years, both good and bad. Time is speckled with setbacks and growth that brings a wider perspective to our own journey. This Fall season, I set out to walk the Kumano Kodo, a series of ancient pilgrimage routes on the Kii Peninsula of Japan. I was seeking solitude, and a journey in which I can gather my thoughts, take time to breathe deeply, and slow things down. The Kumano Kodo's pilgrimage trails were initially designed to be a religious experience and often the route passes through difficult mountainous terrain— the road has a history of use by people with many different beliefs that lead to a variety of mixed religious symbolism intertwined into the setting. 

The idea of a "pilgrimage" has always been fascinating to me— it feels like such an outdated term in this 21st century, especially in this age where so much of our politics, work and spirituality are separated. We don’t take nearly enough time to be good to ourselves, which makes it much easier to lose our way. On a pilgrimage, regardless of your religious background, there’s a connection you feel to the divine and to the sacred. The unnecessary concerns crumble aside, and you’re left with clarity of what matters— to appreciate and be grateful for the layers of time under your feet. It helps to calibrate yourself back to your most honest feelings. So much of what we do at Baum-kuchen is about living with intent, focusing on things that are purposeful and brings us joy— to measure our lives with our own gut barometer. "Pilgrimaging" guides me there. 


The recollection of pilgrim stories are dated back for centuries— the stories you hear on the road completely go against any logical thinking and reasoning— but what is curious and deeply inspiring is the pilgrim's belief in the sacred powers of the pilgrimage and the completeness of their faith. A whole-hearted “all-in” attitude— a quality that I deeply respect, and one that I hold to high esteem as we go through life. 
I walked the “Nakahechi”route, which is considered the most popular route used by pilgrimages from Kyoto. The route takes you deep into the heart of the mountains towards Kumano Hongu Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha which are two of the three most important grand shrines on the Kumano Kodo. The mountains are grand, humbling, and lush. Even on a warm day, the trees hover over you, creating a wet, damp shade that accompanies you through the walk. It’s quiet but loud with the rustling of the leaves. The solitude of the mountain is unspeakable, and in some ways, you can hear 'Yourself' speak. 

At one point during my trip, I stayed at a Buddhist temple, where you participate in the morning rituals and chants. One of the learnings that really stuck out to me was reading a passage that said "Nothing is Lost in Universe" (aka "We Are the Same as Everything")—it's considered one of Buddha's Universal Truths. You can interpret as you like. As for me, everything that's happened these past two years have left me a bit lost and in a bit of despair— it brought me a feeling of profound hope and gratitude. 

So, as we move closer to the bookend of the year. Wishing the Baum-kuchen family ways to go forward with both reflection and inspiration as we move through the layers of time. With hopes that we continue to journey with deep intent and heart!