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
Hi everybody, I have been following this retreat series and even though I don’t comment every time I have been ‘touched’ by this journey that we are on.
I have never taken quite the journey the Joan talks about and as I think about the risks involved I am impressed. Risks in general remain difficult for me. I do believe it will soon be time to step out into the unknown for more growth to occur. Please hold the space with me.
Thanks to you Joan and to each follower on this retreat.
If not now, when. Although I have found it hard to risk, every time I do I seem to land in a new and more interesting place. I am cheering you on. GO GO GO… baby steps alas until you are moved to leap.
Today I baked cookies with my 11 yr old grandaughter. Her daddy (our son) passed away 2 years ago with cancer. I live with grief everyday but so do my grandchildren. My mother used to tell me: Idle hands are the devils workshop…..
Gracious, I’m in my mid 60’s….where has life gone?
Sunrises, sunsets, falling leaves, winter…..snow and holidays. Many days to sing the blues and many days I do…but busy hands help keep the mind from focusing on the negative.
Oh, Joan, I’m so thankful for your insight and sharing with us. I love to catch up with everyone and it helps to know we can connect here in such an intimate way.
Nancy…and a child shall lead them so the Bible says. What a blessing to HAVE to give to that grand daughter and in so doing continue the love that your son would have been giving her…the gene is alive as is his being.
I was lucky recently to attend a community ritual in healing and it was asked that we write down our burdens, the items that are keeping us from being who were are and to place them in a fire after being part of a ritual with many other men and women seeking the same release. I didn’t think it was going to be so difficult to write down my “burdens” but have to say the overwelming feeling that surrounded me as I wrote the words was more than I anticipated. The action of placing these burdens into the fire, asking the universe to take these burdens from me in order to allow me to move on and be the woman that I am meant to be was profound. I mediate daily on my gratitudes and blessings and take the time to listen to that inner voice of the spirit that exists in this body and to allow that positive energy to surround me as I meet and interact with others. Some days are still difficult but I find it becoming easier with each daily practice.
“Encouragement is oxygen for the soul” – unknown
Thank you Joan for your encouragement!
On my beach walk I always offer Praise, Thanksgiving, and then Petition.After listing that which I feel like praising and that which makes me thankful, the petition list dwindles. It’s not that I don’t have needs, wants,and situations that I petition help for, it’s just that the other things either balance them out or are more abundant.
It took a night’s sleep to process another thought. To Anonymous, continue to live just one day at a time. For those of us who are “empty nesters” for one reason or another, it can be difficult. There are days when it seems impossible to focus. It makes me wonder what it is that ever made me happy inside. I’ve been purposely asking myself lately, “What did I love to do when I was in high school?” I used to sew, talk on the phone, do crafts, hang with my friends. I was busy with having fun, not with the stuff of life. So if I can suggest anything, it is to remember what used to make you happy and find a current version of that activity. Join a library book club, take a class at the junior college or craft store. And make sure to talk to the people near you. I always told my kids growing up, that most strangers are just friends you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. More people are coming to you everyday, not to replace loved ones, but to help you celebrate the love you still have to share.
Burdens…managing/balancing all the home financials, helping a loved one with her illness, overseeing a household that seems too big for me but others think it’s perfect, improving my overall health and weight. But when I list these things they seem petty and small (this does not minimize their impact), and I try to think about women in other parts of the world who do not have “civilized” basics. They struggle to find food and shelter, take care of their loved ones, worry about those who are not near, and stress over their own safety. Oh but by the grace of God was I born in the United States, where we can complain about our burdens, but still have so much to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving Joan and to all who journey with you.
As I read your blog and view the pictures, I let myself come along as a stow-a-way on this journey. I feel the wind in my face and smell of the water. I have come to see the roles I have played and still play (daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, friend and partner). I am enjoying gathering slips of paper, writing one at a time. Thank you for this exerise in self-release. Thank you for the visions you send in your words. My breath has been taken away.
Thank you Joan in so may ways.
Denise, I’m glad to know you have lived through all those roles. I am now the daughter, wife, mother, caretaker, and sister of “special” needs. At times, it is over bearing, but with Joan’s books and blog, I can gain strength and comfort for ME!
Thank you Joan.
I am so thankful for all the time and effort that you are
putting into this blog. I am 68 years old and have every
day to do as I please. Sounds good, right. But it can also
be very lonely. I was always the daughter, wife, mother,
caretaker of my parents and it filled everyday. Then I lost
my husband, one of my children, then both of my parents.
I still have one child who is a grown up now. I am very
thankful for that. I smiled at your stones. I have a basket of
stones but mine have words that I am thankful for. My dog,
my home, my son, a wonderful bed at night, food on the
table, sun, stars, toilet paper in a public bathroom. I have
to stay focused on what to be thankful for everyday. So,
Joan I am thankful for you. You have brightened my life.
and you remind me how easy it is to fall into the muck and how I always wished someone would pull me out. With your words and a lot of work I know that we are all imbued with the power to go to the positive.
About loneliness, I understand that as well. But as we grow within, and feel empowered because of who we are becoming with or without others that seems to be reflected out and we attract new connections. I can imagine that will happen with you.