welcome to my world
accepting being where I am,
yet walking persistent and hopeful
step by step by step
Summer in Scotland: tales of a personal pilgrimage
For three weeks in the summer of 2021 my husband and I walked the breadth of the Scotland, from Iona in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, to Lindisfarne, off the east coast of England: linking one holy island to the other, step by step by step.
Three hundred miles!
I did not take photos, and I did not write a journal, at least not in my usual word-rich and thought-filled style. Instead, I painted one watercolour image a day, in a tiny little book that fitted in the palm of my hand.
For two weeks I wrote very little each day, just a comment on what I had experienced or seen, or how I was feeling. Click on any of the pictures above to see what I wrote on these days. Sometimes almost nothing ...
But for the last week, along St Cuthbert's Way, from Melrose to Lindisfarne, I let loose, writing more fluently and fully, experimenting with more traditionally religious reflections. It's all an experiment, really, isn't it? Life, that is. I have expressed elsewhere that I reckon that not really knowing where I start and finish at least indicates that my life is happening: I haven't rigidified yet!
For the purposes of this page, let me suggest you read the whole final blog post, where I reflect back after several weeks back home. What changed in me with this experience, what happened since returning home? (Day 24, as above)
Here is a taste of that, which perhaps sums up the whole:
At the start of this journey I asked the question what makes a Very Long Walk into Pilgrimage. And really all I could find as an answer was 'intention': the attitudes and habits that I carry and practice, What I think and what I do. Not a lightly claimed paste-on title, "Pilgrimage", as if the geography of my walk could claim automatic status, but a decision of the heart. I did that, for this trip; yes, I feel satisfied that I made my trek into something significant, by the attitudes and habits I practised, step by step, day by day. Perhaps I might even dare to claim that by the intention of my heart and the practice of each moment this walking adventure became something sacred. Is 'pilgrimage' perhaps intrinsically a holy thing?
And now the question needs to be asked again, phrased for my stay-at-home existence: what will make my ordinary life - of home, work, family, friends, community - into something sacred? Again, I notice that intention may be the key. And, to my relief, I begin to glimpse the reality that this may be enough. That it will be the small decisions I make, and the small acts that I carry out, that make the difference.
And how I relate what I think and do, indeed who I am, to the bigger reality that is wonder, beauty, love, life (and all the other expressions and experiences that I described) ... that is, to God.
That is what I want.
Yes, that is what I really want.
Walking over the sands to Holy Island,
barefoot like thousands of pilgrims over hundreds of years before us,