On The Journey, Day 5, Online Retreat

Relish The Path

“The real journey of discovery lies not in discovering new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust

Although this is a long journey—24 hours to be exact—and I will be taking various modes of transportation to reach my destination—plane, train, ferry, bus, and ferry—I remind myself not to waste one minute just because I might be tired and overly anxious to get to my destination. Each step along the way is unique– there will be no retracing the steps—no creating the same experience again. It is October 4th,2010  and I will never get this day back again. I must try and stay PRESENT to all the incidental moments and people that happen along the path.

It doesn’t take long for my first encounter with a lovely Scottish man sitting next to me on the plane. He engaged me in conversation after sneaking a look at some of my retreat materials. When I told him I was headed for Iona where the retreat participants would be probing the meaning of life, his interest was more than piqued—evidently he had had a near death experience which left him with a driving desire for purpose, that is, beyond what he did for a living.

“I want to be in a position to guide others,” he finally said, “like you are doing.”

Taken aback by his comment, I pondered it all the way to the train station. Once on board,  the spell was broken by a band of exuberant young men, dressed in kilts, heading for a big soccer match—Scotland vs. Spain.  As they sipped pints of ale and talked incessantly about their adventure, I found their enthusiasm catching. I leaned my head back and tried to drink in their youthful spirit—their in-the-moment attitude and fell blissfully asleep until the conductor awakened me in the seaport town of Oban.  If I had timed it correctly I would easily make the next ferry. But alas, I learned that the winter schedule was already in effect. Momentarily agitated, I headed for a nearby bench and plopped down, focusing on a plaque nearby:

Be Still-hear the quiet of this harbor and echo it in the stillness of your heart—at every turn, wherever you are, unexpected, Be Still.

Taking this as a message just for me, I breathed in the salt air, closed my eyes, relished the pause, and felt relief that I had been slowed down. Moments later I heard the sound of bagpipes—a small band marching toward me, followed by others carrying flags and banners, obviously some local celebration. Scotland was pushing itself into me whether I wanted it or not and it was casting its spell.

After shopping for supplies that would not be available on the island,  I meandered onto the ferry and felt my focus narrow even more, sitting in the bow, staring straight ahead for the small island of Mull to appear. Always on this journey as I leave behind the hustle and bustle of modern life my horizons grow smaller until I find myself on a single-track road to no where and everywhere—the final ride over to Iona.

And so, at journeys end, by staying in the moment, I am once again filled with simple truths—determination to continue with my vocation and give back, not unlike the desires  of the man on the plane—remembering from those young kilted revelers,  that joy is a duty—realizing that giving in to delays always offer welcome surprises—that being still is balm for the soul—and finally, having a singular focus eventually leads  to clarity. The unexpected is always available on a journey. Take advantage of it.

Questions to Ponder: What moments can you collect for the next few days?  Make a list of those little experiences out of which you learned a lesson or new reality. How can taking time to receive a serendipitous moment make a difference in the living of a day?

10 thoughts on “On The Journey, Day 5, Online Retreat

  1. Here it is December 6th and I am on “the path to Christmas.” It is like a rumbling (grumbling at times) train that doesn’t seem to let me relish the path. But I took 15 minutes this morning and wrote in my journal about incidental moments, and yes they were there. Like Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches,…we just need to be still and AWARE. Another post on Facebook this morning admonished us to loosen up our seriousness, which ties us to our ego,……let go more and let serendipity give us a lift and smile. Happy Hannukah and Holidays to all. Thank you again and again for our retreat.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Now time to take back some of that giving time to ourselves! A time for quiet or stillness is a thankful treat of giving to myself. I travel two hurs to work, stay for three days and travel back two hours to home. While at work my hours are very long and filled with giving to others, I find quiet on my drive to and from. On the drive I gear up for the week and all it’s surprises. On the drive home I unwind, so looking forward to comforts of home. During the past few days at home I have been able to reflect on stillness. I enjoy family, but I enjoy just being able to be quiet, no talking just some time to explore. I am working on me and I am seeing new possibilities and I am not as hard on myself if I fail a bit. I am learning and it is good to know I have support around me. I am usually the supporter for all, so this is a strange turnabout. Thank you

  3. I also love the new syndrome name! It is so true that as women and caretakers, we lose the quiet and stillness in our lives and certainly the privacy. I think that it started for me when the little ones would come into the bathroom to visit me. I am learning to find those still moments, to actually plan times for myself to re-energize my soul. Heading to a local park to just walk and to sit and be alone to think and clear my head is starting to be a weekly gift. I am thankful today for my health and that of my family, but I am also grateful that I am learning these wonderful tools to embrace the woman that I know exists in this body. Happy Thanksgiving, thank you Joan for your continued wisdom and to my fellow women travelers…thank you for your thoughts and for helping me realize that taking time for myself isn’t selfish but necessary.

  4. Where Lisa talks about the FEMININE ENERGY that it takes to make ‘the Thanksgiving fun seem effortless,’ … I had an ‘Aha’ moment RE what I had shared earlier. I mentioned above about how my left shoulder began to hurt on Saturday evening … I did not mention that it ‘coincided’ with our family Thanksgiving celebration that day. According to Louise Hay … the left side of our bodies represents ‘feminine energy.’ The affirmation that Louise suggests for any issues on the left side is: “My feminine energy is beautifully balanced.” Lisa is so correct … WE ARE WONDER WOMEN!

    May Lisa’s family be blessed with a swift and complete recovery from the food poisoning. (RE food poisoning … the affirmation from Louise would be: “I have the strength, power, and skill to digest whatever comes my way.”)

  5. PRIVACY DEPRIVATION SYNDROME! Eureka! You named it for me!

    With this need and intention for peace, centering, stillness I fell down the Holiday Rabbit Hole and I’ve had my less than flattering meltdown moments, feeling the pressure of care-taking, providing, cooking, shopping, cleaning–making the Thanksgiving fun seem effortless.

    But, I have realized how much FEMININE ENERGY goes into that. How much magic it takes to create these holidays. How much behind the scenes hard work it takes so I can spend the afternoon playing make believe games with my granddaughter and watching the mail truck and airplanes with my toddling grandson.

    I have come to remind the women I meet: WE ARE WONDER WOMAN! Each of us. God bless us EVERY ONE.

    My son’s family all got food poisoning last night…I have a bit of unplanned stillness to savor! I try to remember to embrace it ALL!

  6. Yesterday I read about something called “privacy deprivation syndrome.” With it one lacks focus, can be depressed, suffer from sleep deprivation and/or prolonged illnesses. Wow, just another very good reason to take myself away from the madding crowd and find quiet. Sometimes I take a book or pad of paper to the beach and just sit in my car and see what happens. Even when it is cold outside, the car is warm in the sun. I continually try to find some alone time for me. Having said that, I do sometimes feel a state of bliss. It’s almost a Hollywood kind of moment when things seem to be spotlighted and I know, “This feels right.” Sounds funny, but I always welcome those little awarenesses in my life. And oddly, those moments are almost always when I am by myself…in the privacy of my own heart. That’s reason enought to seek a quiet retreat. I continue to try to educate my husband and kids that I need and frankly insist on me time. I’m trying to put more stars on my calendar for things that are just for me…and eliminate things that I really don’t enjoy or benefit from…like lunch yesterday with acquaintances that are nice, but really not the kind of soul sisters that I need right now. How selfish I sound, but honestly we are just too different. Next time I think I’ll just say no thank you, and just spend the time alone, with better results from an afternoon away from these unnecessary commitments. I give thanks for continued awareness of “me”.

  7. Thank you, Joan, for continuing to remind me to feel worthy of replenishment and fulfilling dreams. Some in my world look at this as a one time experience, not the ongoing process it must be for completion. As I pushed past 65 this year with my list of unfinished adventures, my family was tolerant and quite confused. My spiritual sisters support, encourage and applaud. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Let them be confused…it is your turn…the habit of deference can grow like a cancer on the soul of a woman until what she becomes is out of her hands. The world needs what you have been storing away in terms of life experience…go out and get some more.

  8. Hi Joan, Thank you so much for the reminder to be still. I’m feeling like clarity on an issue is right around the corner, but I’ve been trying to force the situation. Be Still is the reminder I need that Samhain is a time that can not be forced. It’s a time to wait. Yes, patience, still trying to get better at it. 🙂 I’m feeling more able to breathe already. Also, reading your thoughts about the trip to Iona, I’m immediately brought to that time and space. I can feel myself relaxing back into myself. I am especially thankful to have your wisdom and guidance through this season. I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Big Hugs,

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