“Nothing worthwhile can be hurried…not the season, birth, death, the coming of day or night…patience is what makes it all meaningful.” Joan Anderson
I have learned that you do not mess with the sea. Ever since being caught in a rip tide and rendered helpless several years ago, I realized then, the power of nature. It makes the decisions. We don’t have a say. And yet when my assistant and I awoke to howling winds and whitecaps stirring up the sea in front of our hotel and noticed that there was no 7am ferry docking, nor passengers waiting to leave, we hurried down to the front desk to ask the manager what was happening.
”They’ve told us that the ferry has been canceled for the day,” he said. “It doesn’t happen often, but when they make such a decision usually the crew is sent home and there is no reversing the plan”
“You’re kidding,” I said, more than upset that seven retreaters had still not arrived and all of our best-laid plans for opening day would be trashed. Instead of going to Plan B (of which there was none), I instead chose not to believe him, a not so subtle arrogance rising within me. I deemed that the storm would pass over and surely, the powers to be would reinstate the ferry service later in the day. After all, I had been coming to Iona for years and have never experienced such a thing! What’s more, looking out the window, all appeared normal. The sun had crested over the moors of Mull right on schedule, gulls were happily honking, and a family of unperturbed sheep had just crossed the hotel’s small front lawn to graze on a patch of lush grass. We sat down and ordered coffee, staring at one another in disbelief.
“They say the best laid plans always change,” said a young waitress attempting to assuage our angst.
I looked at my assistant, shaking my head and wondering how we could adjust our perfect agenda.
“That’s the problem,” she said, “we were into perfection.” Indeed that is the problem with most endeavors that women get involved in. Be it a family wedding, decorating a children’s bedroom, planning a dinner party, doing Christmas—we always think Hallmark and attempt to make it memorable, if not perfect.
I recall planning my first son’s wedding on a budget and having my fingers in every pot to make sure (regardless of lack of funds) that it be perfect. Alas, after the grand occasion, I was a mess—so involved in every detail I could barely remember the overall event. Remorseful and disappointed, I tearfully confessed my feelings to a friend. She loaned me a book entitled, Addicted to Perfection, and from that day forward I became less the leader and more the participant.
So back to Iona—as it turned out, our stranded retreaters made it onto the next morning’s ferry. Those of us already on the island ran down to greet the newcomers as long lost friends rather than new acquaintances and they, all but kissed the strange ground as if they were true pilgrims. Waiting does not become most women on a mission and so no sooner had they stowed their bags, laced up their boots and grabbed their walking sticks then we were off. If Iona offers anything, it is awareness to the elements, the land, the senses they evoke, and an immediate ability to welcome the serendipitous. This morning there was a sense that although we could not get the time back lost to weather we could get on top of what happened and allow for an attitude shift. So instead of a band of moonwalkers adjusting to the island’s energy, we became a band of hearty and eager trekkers marching with a determination and attentiveness,
Questions to Ponder:
Surrender doesn’t mean quitting, rather it means giving in to circumstances and then standing back and letting the situation unfold. Imposing our ways and thoughts often misdirect the other. At the very least, when we try to play God or choreograph a particular scene to fit our viewpoint it becomes something willed instead of something that needs to evolve. Take this week and step back from confrontation, directing, fixing, offering suggestions and record how that makes you feel. It may be the greatest gift you can give yourself. In any case, for just this week, you will be off the hook.