Pilgrimage

This morning is the winter solstice.  This is the mid point.  It is an hour before sunrise.  It is very dark. 

My boyfriend and I are planning to drive up to the top of the nearest hill to watch the sunrise. The view up there on a sunny day is amazing.  The photo attached is of me on that hill a few months ago, standing beside Cloughmore  (The ‘great stone’ in Irish).  This is a pilgrimage.  We don’t know if we’ll make it, or if the sky will clear, if we’ll see anything at all.  But still we start with the intention.  

Walking is a profound spiritual practice.  In 2017, I want to walk some of Ireland’s ancient pilgrimage routes.  There’s a new listing of them here. http://www.pilgrimpath.ie/

Blessings of the greatest darkness and of the returning light to you. 

This post is day eight of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

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Talk me walking

Day 60 of #100Daychallenge

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I am prone to anxiety and worry. I am prone to stress. The worst case scenario is my default option. It’s just how I’m built. I’ve always felt this way. The times where I feel completely at peace, and complete safe, are rare. My sleep is easily troubled. If I experience any anxiety at all, I can’t sleep. I dream fitfully. I wake in the dark. My solution is to walk. Walking doesn’t fix things but it gives me and my body something to do.

I grew up in the countryside and my walk was an hour through the fields that connected from ours. I would walk when I had things to think about, or if I wanted to be alone, or if I had to process any emotions be they anger or fear or sadness. As an adult, walking has been my safe place. In times when I’ve had problems in relationships or worries or I have felt emotionally unsafe, I have walked, for hours. Hours.

I couldn’t sleep last night. I have emotions to process. I went for a three hour walk. I walked by the sea and the river. The night sky was beautifully clear. I saw mars and venus. I saw gemini, leo, orion, and ursa major. I saw the sky lighten with the dawn. It’s a magical thing to see the world transform.

On the 5Rhythms dancefloor, walking is the basis of all my movement. When there is nothing else I can do, I can walk. My knees can soften, and my feet fall one before the other across the floor. I can relax into the rhythm. In walking, I don’t ever leave my problems behind. I take them with me. I talk to them, about them, around them. In walking I pray, sometimes aloud, sometimes in an inner silence asking for grace. Walking is my way to self-soothe, to find some semblance of peace. I don’t think that will ever change, just as I don’t think I will ever stop being prone to anxiety. I am grateful for walks.

We’ll Go For a Walk

Day 44 of #100Daychallenge

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We’ll go for a walk together, maybe along a seashore, maybe over a grassy headland. We’ll talk about the world around us but also the state of our hearts. We’ll be catching up, sharing our stories. We’ll occassionally catch each other’s gaze, and we’ll get stuck in it a little too long, unable to speak, unable to look away. There’ll be an awkward silence. I’ll comment on the clouds and assess the chance of rain. And being Irish, we’ll both agree that at least it’s not raining and we’re lucky to have good weather.

As we walk side by side, my hand will accidentally touch yours and I’ll wonder if you noticed it too. I’ll wonder if you made it happen on purpose. I’ll wonder if you want it to happen again.

I’ll loose my train of thought.

We’ll sit side by side on the grass and look out at the sea. I’ll look at you to make a point and your eyes will be open and looking deeply into mine. I’ll look away and quickly look back. There will be silence. I’ll smile. You’ll smile. I’ll take a deep breath. It’ll feel intense, awkward, and wonderful. You’ll lean your head towards mine. Our lips will touch for the first time. We’ll kiss briefly and then return to looking at the waves. I’ll get a little bolder and I’ll put my arm around your shoulders. We’ll sit like that for a moment and then I’ll turn to face you. I’ll put my hand on the side of your face as I lean in to kiss you, this time with an intensity and a hunger that’s been building for years.

Walking in Memory

Day 15 of #100Daychallenge

  
Tonight I went on an historical walk of Sunday’s Well in Cork city. I went with my cousin. She grew up in the city. The guide told us about the development of the city in that area over the last three hundred years and showed us maps and so on. I enjoyed the tour but the best was yet to come. 

My cousin took me on a walk by the university which is where she grew up. She pointed out the shops and talked about her childhood experiences. I went to the university several decades later. The buildings I knew as department offices, she knew as homes. When I went to college, all that history was invisible to me. History is all around us. 

I’m really grateful to have learned more about this city and more about my family too. I’m also grateful for the experience of walking and talking with my cousin. When did you last tell someone about your history? When did you last walk a street you once lived on, remembering it how it once was?