Tag Archive | grief

El Camino

foxgloveRecently I went to the movies to watch “Walking the Camino”. It was the penultimate screening and we had the theatre almost entirely to ourselves. This is how I like it, the dark, the quietening of the breath and the unfolding of the story. As I listened to the stories of the half dozen people (out of many) who were sharing their experience, I was waiting to feel the yearning rise up within me to follow in their footsteps. The idea of travelling light; letting go and confronting change on a daily basis all hold much allure. The transformative experiences abounded and were shared with depth and humility.

Searches for the meaning of life, a new better way to be sat alongside the yearning to connect. One young woman bought her small son and her brother. Her dream; that her brother would grow to understand her Christian values and they would become closer. Loss was also present in the stories of those who had died and were still being grieved. All of the stories continued to unfold along with the road and the vista beckoning the pilgrim onward.

The stories were heart warming. Yet, throughout the whole movie the most powerful player was Nature herself.  In sun and rain the natural world stood out; the bedewed blades of grass; leaves lime green in their newness. Heather, in thick rich banks adorned the roadside,    urging me to reach out and run my hands through it.

I know I would never survive the walk; the shared sleeping dormitories alone would be the end of me. I am a light sleeper and often only manage 4-5 hours a night – in the quietest of spaces. I am not physically able to walk the 790kms, my body would teach me a lesson in humility never to be forgotten. Such beauty along the Way, I would love to experience that; I’d take the chance to immerse myself in it wherever it appeared.

It was almost at the end of the movie; the young women had fallen out with her brother. He had misbehaved – his Pan-ness had offended her values. He wasn’t taking it at all seriously and so she drove him away, thereby negating her original desire for connection.  Poor thing, she was trying so hard to be a good/godly pilgrim. He didn’t seem concerned at all. It seemed to me that he was inherently panentheistic and she was – a fundamentalist!

His lightness of spirit captured me and spoke to the mood that had overtaken me as I drank in the scenery. Right then the camera followed the curving stem of a foxglove, honouring each individual flower. From somewhere deep inside me powerful emotion welled up; the thought “I bow before you” sprang into my mind and my heart opened. For me, all the joy of the Camino was represented in that one sinuous curve.

I know that I walk my own inner Camino every day. The Nature mystic in me takes me on many varied and challenging paths. I hope I walk them in humility; staying connected to all the glory of the natural world, grounding myself in Her.

There is always a gift along the road. A dappled glade, a glorious sunset, a field of wheat moving in a gentle breeze. All these expressions of the Divine enliven me and fill me up so that, just like a pilgrim who reaches Finisterre I am filled with joy and deep peace.

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Garden Grief and Joy.

Today as I listen to the rain beating out a dirge on my roof I feel no desire to go outside. There is a gloomy grey and dismal tone to the day; flowers and shrubs bend their heads forlornly. It reminds me that there once was a time when our connection to nature overshadowed all our actions.  The ancient Greeks had a ritual for this time, a dromenon, in which they enacted the dance of death and rebirth. They understood that the end of winter meant not only the passing of hard times, but also the loss of many of their people. Spring came, but at a cost. Therefore they ritualised their loss so as  to propitiate the spirits of their dead ancestors in order that they would protect the tribe from the spirit world. Attached to this was the celebration of the return of Spring,  the possibility of new life and plenty. We live distantly from these concerns now and have become complacent about the power of Mother Nature to impact our lives so intimately. Even so, in my past work as a florist I made many wreaths for elderly townsfolk over the winter months. The winter is a time of harvest too.  Looking out the rain beaded window I feel that sense of loss; the weeping heads of the flowers, the wailing of wind in the eucalypts evokes a powerful, palpable grief.  It’s nothing maudlin, however, only a reminder of the need need to give thanks for what was. Out of death and decay comes new life. And so it is, that Spring reminds us that after the loss comes the celebration. As I walked around the garden a few days ago I noticed the new figs swelling on almost naked branches.  Spring’s promise to us, her little joke, the fruit that is really a flower tricking us into belief in the harvest to come.