Two years ago I traveled across Ireland via car as Gil's "support team" for his pilgrimage walk. Today, I reread my journal entries from that journey with new eyes having completed my walking pilgrimage. I had intended to read and reflect on those entries before I came but good intentions were not acted upon. Maybe that was a good thing and now is the perfect time? I wonder how I can continue to be more at peace with not completing the "to do list" and just be in the moment.
My reflections from two years ago were filled with anxiety, heartburn, paralyzing fear, and lots of prayers for HELP! My "want to" was strong to be Gil's helpmate so he could freely walk to fulfill his dream. I honestly find deep satisfaction and good feelings from caregiving and making sure others have what they need. I've been told problem solving is one of my strengths. But I was struggling.. big time!
Before this adventure began, I read Sue Monk Kidd's book, When the Heart Waits. She shares her struggle to find herself in the midst of her life. She describes how on a walk as she sat under a tree she saw a cocoon. She considered it a gift for her and carefully took it home to watch. This cocoon became an inspiration to her reflections and story.
And her story became my inspiration to give myself permission to "cocoon" whenever I felt the need on this journey. As a matter of fact, I named our little rental car, Cocoon. She and I had many lengthy conversations. While Gil conversed with the ravens, I was talking with my car. I did have to apologize quite a bit at the beginning for "scuffing" up her left side hubcabs. Good news, I never clipped her side mirrors. She was a faithful Cocoon and we had lots of road adventures together with no car trouble ever.
My plans to sightsee and shop and explore changed to quiet times of gathering myself after Gil set out, send a daily email to family, post Gil's blog, restock for our needs, stay 3 days ahead in bookings for our evening stay, check out local restaurants to get Gil a hearty vegetarian dinner, and always have a bottle of red wine ready. Traveling to the next "rest stop" at times had many challenges for me because we were truly on a journey of the road less traveled, which included many stops at farm houses, petrol stations, grocery stores, one grandmother at a Catholic Church who drew me a map on the back of her Lotto ticket, and even a fire brigade captain at a blocked road I need to travel down.
As my journey continued, I think I made friends with my demon, Fear. Oh, he was always there but somehow I learned how to get him into the back seat rather than in my lap. And a bit of fear is not always a bad thing. I paid attention better, sorted my thoughts and feelings more honestly, let go and began moving, and asked for help, frequently.
When the final day of Gil's walk came, it would be the longest day ever for him and me. I felt a new calm. And it wasn't because it was the last day because there were many perils still ahead on this walk. I did a few tasks that needed to be done and then just waited. I wanted to sit quietly, in silence... holding space to be still, and know the great I am. It was so peaceful.
On the Wicklow Way walk this year, my friend, Fear was very subdued. The anxiety I felt was more about "let's get started!" And everyday I saw butterflies.... lots of butterflies, flitting around me, ahead of me, encouraging me to spread my wings and fly. Everyday, over and over, the Divine was showing me to begin again... open up... let go some more... and all will be well.
Sitting and walking in silence has created open space in my soul... I wonder where these new wings will take me now? Pilgrimage as a way of life.... thanks be to God.