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.