I heard a fascinating talk recently by Deacon Andrew Carter, a member of the Methodist Diaconal Order who shared, in word and image, from his own recent experiences of a journey millions of pilgrims have completed over thousands of years “Walking the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James) to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.”
Earlier today, I was brought back to something he’d said about journeying that the pilgrims walking the way had experienced. That by taking it slowly they began to notice things around them they hadn’t seen before and, in particular, if a small object – maybe a stone – stood out for them in some way they picked it up and carried it with them, not knowing what it represented until they placed it down at their journey’s end – as a symbol of letting go of what it was that prevented them from being free to simply be.
My opportunity to accept Andrew’s challenge and try this out for myself came earlier today, although not on a 500 mile journey, I hasten to add.
After my session at the gym, I walked down onto the beach in Scarborough, to try and cool down in the hot sunshine. As I strolled along the shore line ankle-deep in sea water I noticed two silver coloured soldiers discarded in the sand. Further on, I spotted an unusual stone-type shell. As I held the three objects in my hand I made a connection between them and contemplated on that for a while. I felt it represented a long-term estrangement within the family where any hope for reconciliation is long gone: the soldiers being the two conflicting parties and the stony shell the wall between them.
(I know I wasn’t supposed to know what it was I needed to let go of yet but I’ve been carry this for 12 years so it does tend to hover in the background somewhat.)
When I ran out of beach I sat on a wall waiting for my sandy feet to dry off and engaged in an hour long conversation with a holiday-maker who was also waiting for her sandy feet to dry off. Another thing we had in common was family estrangement. Sharing our stories was a beautiful experience of healing in its own right. We both accepted that we cannot fix it. We have to wait for it to fix itself.
I left my objects on the wall, feeling lighter as I carried on with my journey home.
I’ll do my best not to pick them up again.
Go well my friends, take things slowly and embrace the little things as you journey on.
with love and prayer