Connecting With More Than Grief
Connections. That is one theme that is emerging as day four comes to a close. Making them. Missing them. Connecting with others, self, ancients, ocean, rocks, trees, birds, sheep…the list is long. The more I slow, the more open I am to connecting to who or whatever is presented.
A missed connection (I was supposed to be on a boat tour today) leads to meeting someone who I strike up a friendship with as she offers me a ride back to Tobermory from Calgary. Today was her mother’s (now dead 35+ years) birthday. She “just happened” to toss an old book in her car, and when she opened to the back a photo of her mother “fell out.” A fellow writer and keeper of journals, she had stories of loss and ritual and being a strong woman. A spiritual woman. Of returning home after being out of the country for ten years. Lynne, if you read this, thank you for an enjoyable two hours.
A Musician and Poet Meet on a Train
As the train offered an unsteady rhythm of stops and starts on its way from Glasgow to Oban, I connected with a musician. Originally noticing him in the train station, I thought it was curious when our seats were facing each other. He welcomed a chance to chat and bemoaned the use of electronic devices as a way to avoid contact (he doesn’t own a smart phone or use social media.) He shared a couple of his songs, one written when he was younger and smitten by Julie Christie that was all about her beautiful face, about having a sister living in the states, and when he was a younger man (he is now in his mid-50’s) about sky diving in Florida during his 30’s. He confided that his “ice tea” was really half whiskey and my sense was he had a deeper relationship with is guitar and the golden brew than family or a significant other. He sang me one of his songs before his stop (most of the car clapped) and I wrote him a short poem based on our conversation: “His words free fall/ as last night’s whiskey/ still lingers on his tongue./ Lost days gather/ in his sharing/ across the table./ Time past./ Time now./ Future strumming forward./ Calloused fingertips/ imagine Julie Christie/ as they caress the strings/ Sharing story between this place/ & the next.” (No edits—this is what I gave John.)
Another man sits beside me on the train, body language not wanting to connect, everything screaming, “Shut the drunk musician up! What an idiot” and relief seeps from his pores when John exits the train. The cover to his inner storybook is closed, but a teddy bear keychain on his bag tells me there is a page that would like to be read aloud and heard if given the chance. I hope he finds an attentive listener and is willing to share one day.
A brief connection at the end of the bus ride: When I first got on the bus, I asked the man which side would be best to sit. He told me the side he was on, for he has done the ride “eleven times.” The man has a bouquet of flowers. As we get off the bus I mention that he will make someone's day. He says they are for his “girlfriend who died of cancer. She lived here and her ashes were scattered in the bay. I bring flowers from her son and me on the anniversary of her death.” “What a lovely way to honor her,” I reply. Today as I return from dinner, I see the bouquet attached to the railing by the bay. A sweet, visible note tucked inside signed “love R & R.” She is still loved. She has not been forgotten.
Stories Can Reflect Our Similarities
Wednesday I met Jackie, retired social work from Yorkshire. I am on a long hike up to Glengorm Castle and come across her walking her dog while the rest of her family is on a nature tour. We chat over lunch and somehow the conversation comes round to discussing how those of us who think we have open minds are often tested in unexpected ways. This is good, as long as we are on the lookout for our “hidden” (and sometimes not so hidden) prejudices and give them a good shake out. After our chat, I set off on a walk to come close to the Atlantic and thought how even though an ocean separated Jackie and I, many of our issues and concerns were similar.
Connecting With My Self
Then there is my connection with self. Though I am early in this sojourn, traveling solo is sweet, soul medicine. Except for transport connections, for five of the nine weeks of this journey I am on my own timeline. There is time to listen, meander, reach out to strangers, appreciate bird songs and, since this is lambing season, spend time watching lambs frolic. Yes, they truly frolic. There will be more to unpack about my connection to self in future blogs. I will say, as an interesting metaphor, I have had “luggage lock” issues. Though something practical that needs to be resolved, metaphorically, it is a reminder to keep my heart open.
I have written pages in my journal trying to capture all that is unfolding before the memories start to fold in on one another. Time is starting to shift from “real” to “semi-liminal.” I gave myself permission to not write a post everyday and when I do, certainly not a complete entry. Even choosing a theme to focus on barely scratched the surface of my outer and inner experiences the last three days. And I also want you to join me on this journey, so I would rather write an incomplete, imperfect entry than nothing at all. The connection (there is that word again) to my parents, my ancestors, the land is growing stronger. Thank you for being my witnesses.
If you could go on a spiritual sojourn, where would it be? If it helps, try not to think too literally. Be curious and imaginative.
Click on the image below to see a few images from my sojourn so far.