New Boots…

I bought a new pair of walking boots yesterday. The perfect pair to fit my growing feet. Feet that seem to keep growing, with each long walk that I do. I start my next Camino de Santiago (an old friend, a Camino I’ve walked three times before) in less than a week. And it’s currently snowing…something that I hadn’t expected…and so the speedy purchase of new waterproof boots.

But this is why I walk the Camino. This is why I walk the same Camino…because it’s never the same…and that’s both the beauty and the bounty of it. Something that my forgetful self still needs to be reminded of it seems.

Only a few weeks ago I was thinking about the length of time the walk would take, what I would do when I arrived in Santiago, and the likely stops that I’d make along the way. I’d already informally labelled it ‘My Gratitude Camino’ in my head; a physical act of thanks for all the gifts of good health and good fortune I’ve received in the last few years. A sort of ‘tying up of loose ends’ before seeing what comes next.

But now I see Life smiling at me again, gently shaking its head, and silently whispering “When will you learn? There are no loose ends. It’s all my Way.”

I had a different blog piece prepared for today. It was called ‘Why we’re all Superheros at heart’ and I’d been adding to it, honing it and polishing it throughout this week. But, even as I was working on it, I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be using it. Because my heart is already putting on its thermal hat, strapping on its backpack and, now, lacing up its new boots. Ready to walk again. In a slightly different way. And all is as it’s meant to be…

Every time you leave home
another road takes you
into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
will pretend nothing changed
since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
alone, in a different way,
more attentive now,
to the self you bring along.
Your more subtle eye
watching you abroad;
and how what meets you
touches that part of the heart
that lies low at home.

How you unexpectedly attune
to the timbre in some voice,
opening a conversation
you want to take in
to where your longing
has pressed hard enough
inward, on some unsaid dark,
to create a crystal of insight
you could not have known
you needed
to illuminate
your way.

When you travel,
a new silence
goes with you.
And, if you listen,
you will hear
what your heart
would love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing.

Make sure, before you go,
to take the time
to bless your going forth,
to free your heart of ballast
so that the compass of your soul
might direct you towards
the territories of spirit
where you will discover
more of your hidden life,
and the urgencies
that deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
gathered wisely into your inner ground;
that you may not waste the invitations
which wait along the way
to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrived refreshed,
and live your time away to its fullest;
return home more enriched, and free
to balance the gift of days which call you.

- John O'Donohue


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