The long walk home
If one has courage, nothing can dim the light which shines within… Since a price will be exacted from us for everything we do or leave undone, we should pluck up the courage to win, to win back our finer and kinder and healthier selves. There is no failure as long as you learn from your experience, continue to work, and continue to press on for success.
I like nothing more than to go for a gentle jog along a coastal path near where I live in Tramore. It helps clear the head and sets me up for the day ahead. One particular run I do leads me on a loop around the back strand, down the beach and back to the prom for a well-earned cool down in the sea. Just me and the universe, as the early morning sun casts its crimson glow across the bay. It’s as liberating as it gets! Once or twice old niggles surface on the soft sand and I turn the bend four miles out to face the long walk home. The elements often conspire to make it that bit tougher; rain, hailstones, a strong breeze coming right at you… you’ve got to dig deep. You’ve no choice!
The long walk home is your defining hour. It can make you or break you. I sometimes lose it for a moment, release a few choice words into the heavens and question myself for being out there in the first place. Just as well there’s no one around. It’s the frustration you feel more than the pain. Running to standstill – this was never in the plan. The way ahead seems blurred and in the haze I struggle. I find it good just to slow my cadence right down, stop by the water’s edge, breathe, listen. The ebb and flow reminds me that this too will pass. Waves roll into shore with unwavering ease to calm the stirrings of the restless mind. The universe always speaks when you need it most. Stillness draws you back to the source from where you find the strength to go again. You know you’re not alone. Your way back starts with one single step.
We cannot change the cards we’re dealt in life but we can choose how we play them. It is not how we start; it’s how we adapt when things don’t go to plan. Painful episodes leave a scar that only those closest will ever see. Hidden wounds become part of who you are. Somehow, you must find that spark even in the darkest of places. You cannot give up. I remember at one time in my life when things were particularly scary, staring out the window in search of a sign to help me move beyond my deepest fears. I could see a small bird on a ledge not too far from my humble abode surveying its surrounds before it took flight. There we were, before the world was yet to waken, just me and this bird.
I began to visualise the bird leaving the sanctuary of its lofty perch, its fragile wings yielding to the vagaries of the wind as it soared through the skies. At that moment, it felt so real. A once captive creature was free again to re-claim its place in the cosmos. The reverie lingered and lulled me back to sleep just for a while. When I awoke, the bird was still there. It had stayed exactly where it was. I needed to get closer. As if aware of my curiosity from afar, the bird nodded gracefully before descending at pace into the darkened space below. Minutes later, it reappeared, and rose steadily to embrace the freedom beyond the narrowed walls it had left behind. Light seeped through shaded skies as dawn broke. I too would rise.
A small, delicate creature had unearthed something in me I never knew existed. Its mystery lingered and eased the simmering pain of a broken man. Unspoken, unannounced… a simple truth had set me free. The peace we seek along the way doesn’t come from superiority and might. It flows from the deepest, most vulnerable part of our being, that unmistakable core within that makes us unique. A meaningful life does not come from being rich, being popular, being highly educated, being perfect. It comes from staying true to you especially when you’re tested most and staying humble to the end. Listen to your gut, your inner compass. It always points you where you need to be. Your deepest pain can reveal your higher purpose. Every fall is the beginning of your flight.
Gravitate to the light and the shadows will soon pass behind. Good people are priceless. You know the type. Those who will never hide away, who lift you up when you fall, who remind you of the song you’ve still got to sing. Others can be quick to ridicule and to judge. They have no idea of the price you have paid to be where you are now. Make time for those who are weak and are broken along the way. Make time for them. They too have their story. Walk the path with them rather than look on from afar. Leave your imprint on the sands of time. One tiny act of kindness ripples out in quiet abandon into the universe to reveal the source that makes it all possible in the first place. God is love and those who trust in love will endure to the last.
Musical airs drift into the evening skies in mystical homage to what has gone before. Chords once lost have now been found as I learn to laugh and smile all over again. Life feels good. This time everything does not have to rhyme. There is beauty in the flawed note beyond the reach of those who cannot hear. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore. A voice whispers from afar. You are a child of the universe. No less than the seas and the stars you have a right to be here. You have come this far. Now make your way home!
Starting today, learn more, laugh more and do what you truly love to do. Do not be denied your destiny. For what lies behind you and what lies in front of you matters little when compared to what lies in you.
Phil and Elaine are excited to be teaming up with Sinead Gaynor and Deirdre Lawlor of ‘ReNew You Retreats’ to roll out ‘The wellbeing way along the Waterford coastline’ from this autumn and to be rolling out our ‘St Declan’s Camino’ from August this year. September is already fully booked. You assemble the group, leave the rest to us. Check out www.waterfordcamino.com or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org