From Liverpool to the yoga mat: Moorestown author recounts ‘chance pilgrimages’

Anne Greco is sharing what she learned over the course of her travels both near and far.

Anne Greco.

Every journey is a small pilgrimage, according to Moorestown author Anne Greco. A journey from couch to yoga mat can be just as transformative as a trip overseas; this is the premise of Greco’s newly self-published book “Serendipity: Chance Pilgrimages.”

Greco said the idea to write her travel memoir first struck her around six years ago. She came home from a day trip to the beach and fished a little black shell out of her purse. Curious how it got there, she asked her children if they had placed it in her bag and was perplexed when no one admitted to it.

She recalled a poem about shells being a sign of pilgrimage that she had read as an English major at Saint Joseph’s University. She said the shell got her thinking about pilgrimages, and as she thought about her travels, she realized she’d had a few pilgrimages of her own. In that moment, she knew she wanted to share what she had learned.

“I began to think about places that I’d been to that just changed me in some way — something about where I was that made me see things differently,” Greco said. “Some were over seas and some were just over the river.”

A Cherry Hill native, Greco came to Moorestown more than 30 years ago. Her first husband was asked to be the Perkins Center for the Arts’ artist-in-residence, and so the pair lived in the carriage house.

She said she found herself travelling once her children were grown. She and her husband journeyed to Liverpool to visit John Lennon’s childhood home. Despite not being a die-hard Beatles fan, the experience was transformative. Standing in Lennon’s small, childhood bedroom showed her the greatness can come from humble beginnings.

Once she had the idea for her memoir, Greco began seeking new pilgrimages to include in the book. She said did some investigating and figured out where her great-grandmother had lived in South Philly. She went across the river and sat on the steps envisioning the hardships her family had gone through. She said she includes these musings in an anecdote in her memoir.

As she sat on the steps, the current occupant came out of the house and nearly tripped over her. Greco said moments like this underscore the light-hearted tone with which she approached telling her story.

“I tend to be a little bit irreverent,” Greco said. “The most important thing to me is that you laugh with me through things. It’s relatable. I’m not lecturing you.”

Some journeys didn’t even require much travel, Greco said. She said the first time she tried yoga at Moorestown High School on a hard, linoleum floor under fluorescent lights, she swore she would never try yoga again.

Months later, when she tried yoga at a local studio, she found a new perspective and fell in love with the practice. She said yoga helped her to calm down and clear her mind.

“And I can justify wearing the yoga pants,” Greco said with a laugh.

Greco said she definitely doesn’t claim to be any sort of guru. Her sole goal in describing the small epiphanies is to inspire people to take a look at the journeys that changed them.

After spending six years writing her memoir, Greco decided to self-publish, and the book, which is available for purchase on Amazon, came out at the beginning of January.

At the end of the day, Greco said she wants to encourage people to go on pilgrimages of their own and see what they learn.