One of the Vox Peregrini hiker/singers made an interesting observation one evening after their hike. “It’s interesting to me that Gil, the introvert, is with people all day and Cathy, the extrovert, is alone.” This observation was one of those hmmmmm moments for me and it’s been playing in my head and heart ever since.
I’ve come to Ireland fully understanding and embracing what the “doing” of my pilgrimage would be and it isn’t walking. I’m very ok with that. As a matter of fact, I get great joy and satisfaction from helping others, planning and seeing a plan come to life, and being creative when the plan won’t work and needs some adjustments. I’ll admit that my ego loves to hear the “thank yous” and “you’re so wonderful” and “I can’t imagine how we would do this without you.” And, I believe all of this is also a part of the “being” of my pilgrimage, to see and be seen.
And then there is that moment, when Gil and all the hikers walk away and leave me alone. They’ll be together all day in the glorious, wild beauty of Ireland, meeting the challenge of long days up and down the mountains, carrying their packs and burdens, facing their fears and personal struggles, and when it gets too tough, someone is there to walk along side of them. And, they have no worries at the end of the day because I’ve traveled ahead in my little car and have everything ready for them so they can have a comfortable bed, hot shower, and good meal. They are having a common experience creating a bond among themselves which I’m not a part of… and that’s a bit painful for me. To be truthful, many times I get a bit teary-eyed and cry a little as I watch them walk away.
I’m alone all day with a drive to the next stop taking no longer than about 25 minutes and all the major arrangements were made months ago. I’m faced with just me…lots of waiting, thinking, what shall I do dilemmas with no one to talk to, which is a bit excruciating for an extrovert, think aloud person. Who has my common experience where I can create a bond with them? Who’ll walk along side of me when it gets too tough? Just me!
So this is where pilgrimage gets real. I must face me! All of me and listen to the fears I try to cover up and the feeling of loneliness I try to ignore. I’m trying to make friends with the critic that lives in me who points out all my faults and mistakes. The critic who re-plays last evening’s conversations where she tells me I babbled on about my day while all the others had so many more challenges and extraordinary experiences. I’m learning to lean into all of this…to feel deeply what I feel. I’m trying to learn from my critic’s voice but not let it consume my thoughts. I’m learning to say to her, “Thank you for your opinion, now you can be quiet and I’ll take it from here.” As I lean into this hard work, I’m finding that those fears can be eased and that I can be a very good companion to me. Part of my prayer in the morning is… “I welcome the compassion that surrounds me and the love in my heart.” I’m learning to embrace and integrate and make that a deep part of me.
To see and be seen is my intention…. I didn’t anticipate that the “seeing” would be to look deep into me.
“To see and be seen” Five simple words easy to say and deeply powerful to live into. I’m in Ireland and traveling with the 13 Vox Peregrini 2019 singers/hikers. Gil is the hiking support on the Wicklow Way trail and I’m driving a car from village to village, making sure all is ready for the group when they finish their day. My pilgrimage is a bit more unique than the hikers…beginning with driving on the left side of the road! And more times than I’d like, roads that seem only wide enough for one car, with two-way traffic. Here begins the “to see and be seen” in intense reality!
So how do I not get consumed with the doing and miss out on the being? Well, the beauty of Mother Nature in Ireland helps a lot. Cool breezes moving through the ancient trees and across the grassy, flower laden meadows, majestic hills with deep dark forests, misty rain off and on, and quiet places in the little villages all waiting for me to see…and breathe…and be silent without and within.
Every morning, I begin with this prayer to help me “see”…
This morning I greet Mother Earth and Father Sky and the life force in all creation.
This morning I greet the seen world in all its beauty and the unseen world in its mystery.
This morning I welcome the breath that breathes in me, the compassion that surrounds me,
and the love in my heart.
And I deeply desire “to be seen” by the life force in all creation and the unseen world in its mystery. I’m finding the “to be seen” in the trust circle gathering of the hikers after their walk. We offer the invitation (no requirement to attend) to gather in circle to listen deeply to each other and ourselves…no saving, no fixing, no setting anyone straight…holding space for the Divine to move within us and all around us…many times sitting in silence honoring its holy power for us. I feel “seen” here and I’m learning to carry that deep Sophia wisdom with me on my journey.
Every evening before I sleep, I offer this prayer to help me remember “to see and be seen”…
This evening I give thanks for Mother Earth and Father Sky and the life force in all creation.
This evening I give thanks for the seen world in all its beauty and the unseen world in its mystery.
This evening, I welcome the rest and restoration of my body, the quieting of my thoughts, and the wisdom of my dreams.
And the journey continues for there is much seeing and being seen to discover, especially within me!