“Never trust a thought that didn’t come by walking.” Nietzch
“Walking is the best way to get out of your head,” said the monk, Thomas Merton. Indeed, with no other form of transportation on Iona, I count on my sturdy legs and a bit of discipline to get me from one place to another.
My mentor, Joan Erikson, was in agreement insisting that action was everything. “Action creates change,” she would say, “and action creates reaction. And while you are in motion, particularly in nature, you will find out that wisdom doesn’t come from a book, my dear…wisdom comes from the senses being evoked.”
We would recite a wonderful chant before heading out that I use to this day:
I gather all my heart and mind into walking.
I gather all my longing and seeking into my walking.
I gather all my thanksgiving and delight into my walking.
I gather all my sorrow and heartbreak into my walking.
Let my every step be a prayer of all that is in me—
all that I know—all that is dark and obscure.
Myth has it that if you walk north on Iona you get healing—west, you get patience—south, you get clarity—and finally, east offers grace. In a sense it is like walking the stations of the cross only in a natural sanctuary rather than a church.
The process has proved to be a sound one—to be healed takes time and patience. Throughout the process if one stays open there is clarity. And, as a result of being faithful to the journey, a woman is blessed with grace.
Although no one who begins such a journey has any idea of the outcome, having come so far and with strong convictions and intentions this band of soul sisters are confident that triumph will be theirs.
The poet, Stanley Kunitz suggested: “I have walked through many lives—some of them my own—and I am not who I was though some principles of my being abide.” Iona is the place we’ve chosen to re-write our scripts, add new chapters, and rid ourselves of illusion as the real burns to be born.
So we follow the piper and surrender to the haunting sounds as he leads us out of town and into the moors so that we can be in a state of mind that allows new thoughts and objectives to be revealed. We have come from storms to silence—changeable weather for our changeable beings.
Questions to Ponder:
Find a remote place—an unfamiliar setting where it is unlikely you would meet a friend, or be disturbed…the ponder one of the following questions.
1.Identify something heavy within you that seems to get in the way of you feeling peaceful—How could you replace this negative burden with a positive thought and work toward the light rather than stay with the dark?
2.As you walk begin to praise the gifts you have and give thanks for who you are, rather then holding onto to the old tapes that denigrate your being.
I am walker, runner and cyclist. I use exercise to bring me peace and begin my day. On days I do not exercise, I struggle with completing tasks, thoughts, and just plain feel out of sorts. I have always used the time for myself, no one works out with me and that way I can focus. I find clarity. I find I don’t always know where I am going, but somehow that doesn’t matter as long as I am still moving forward.
I am working on turning a losing a job being denied tenure into the light for it has made me dark for too long. I have a new job at another university. I have been approaching it with one out to keep it at a distance. It still hurts to know that in my past job, I won the appeal and arbitration only to still have it gone. So in my new job I walk in new way, sometime very guarded, sometimes keeping it at a distance, for fear I will get too involved and that may hurt me as it did before. I was a good citizen at the university and got snagged by people using my tenure as power play against an administrator. So not willing to go there again I walk proud and carry my head high. I am using the exercises from the online retreat and Joan’s works tohelp me come out on the otherside. I see the light!
Thank you Joan and others
I have always been a walker, also, and it has kept me centered many times in my life, whether hiking in the mountains, walking by the ocean, or just around the neighborhood. I am so enjoying this blog on your time in Iona – I hope to go there one day. Blessings.
I so affirm “Never trust a thought that didn’t come by walking.” I have been a ‘walker’ for years and oftentimes I do my affirmations while I walk, or I pray, or I listen to an inspirational CD. It has been my time to practice self care and it truly has been my salvation.
Also, the quote by poet, Stanley Kunitz spoke to me as one of my favorite sayings is “I’have lived many lives in this lifetime.” It helps me to have more self acceptance, forgiveness and to ‘harvest’ my life as I live in the NOW.