Surrender to Serendipity
“You do not need to know what you are looking for—only that you are looking for something and need urgently to find it.” Janine Vega
Finally…I am on the last leg of my trip–the ferry that runs from the tiny village of Fionnphort to Iona. I rush aboard, stow my bags and head for the upper deck where I can watch for the shoreline of Iona as it emerges out of the mist. There is an immediate sense of relief—having made it onto the last ferry of the day. My shoulders relax, my head clears, and I breathe deeply of the atmosphere that gifts me with a sense of peace I find no where else on earth.
Time to unload the burdens—not only the materials brought here for the retreat but the personal burdens that have been weighing so hard on me for the past year. The long day of travel was worth every minute if for no other reason than to experience this moment– a spiraling into my center from which I can begin to see new horizons.
This is my place—it feels like home—as if I lived here in a past life. Not everyone would find this a destination to their liking—population 100—an island with no cars, few stores, one pub and a three star hotel. And yet for the seeker, such a place is perfect– sheep that safely graze, playful people with a lilt in their brogue, late night sunsets, aqua -colored water, changeable weather combined with daily rainbows, organic gardens, dancing dolphins, and a history dating back to 563 A.D.
Still, many find being off the beaten path uncomfortable having been seduced by safety. And I must plead guilty as I made myself say NO to invitations that would take me out of my comfort zone—a hike in high altitude, for one, and training for a local bike marathon. ”Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” my mother used to say. How right she was. If you don’t get off the tried and true path you risk seeing nothing—the serendipitous occurrence escapes you. So, here I am, seeking a new point of view in a place where there are no doctors, no quick exits, no immediate contact with the outside world– a place so remote with no newspapers, magazines, cell phone contact or television — no escaping yourself on Iona. After a certain point it is necessary to let go of all outside help and focus on one’s own resourcefulness.
Questions to Ponder: Are you presently carrying burdens—wounds that have been inflicted upon you or that which you have brought upon yourself? Only when we list that which we don’t or shouldn’t carry any more can we begin to heal and grow. Make a list of those burdens…(example: anxiety, grief, guilt, judgment, envy, ego, self-doubt, hypochondria, fear, mother power) and then, if you have access to stones (as we do on Iona’s beaches), write your burdens on those stones and carry them around in your purse or knapsack for awhile. The same thing can be done on pieces of paper…carry them in your wallet or place them by your kitchen sink so you can’t get away from the words and the feelings they evoke. When you have had time to see how unnecessary it is to be burdened by them or how you have held on to them for much too long –toss the rocks away or burn the papers. When you do such a cleansing or moral inventory you begin to pave the way for space to welcome more positive energy. Caring for yourself physically, mentally and emotionally is a first step in a personal retreat. “You have a solemn obligation to take care of yourself because you never know when the world will need you.” Rabbi Hillel