We left Scotland today and crossed over into England, landing first on Lindisfarne Island, a.k.a. Holy Island.
There is so much about this pilgrimage that is liminal for me—crossing borders, shifting accents, the weather, the effects of jet lag, changing rooms and lugging luggage, not to mention slight waves of nausea on the long bus rides.
Which brings me to the corporal nature of our group. Which could end up being, seriously, my favorite aspect of our journey together, I am surprised to say.
At least nine of us are in our 80’s, for which I am, actually, grateful. These individuals provide our steady wisdom. I flood often with love for them, perking up for instance during their check-ins after Evening Prayer.
At the same time, sometimes they ask God’s soft eyes of me and, wow, I am not there yet. Their needs require me to slow way down. I am constantly reminded that none of us gets out of this alive. So along with just accepting my irritations and letting them go, I must acknowledge my sadness—mostly as I think of my even frailer mother. In his book Being Mortal, Atul Gawande explains: What we want most as we age is to continue to live fully. And those who love and care for us want us to be safe.
There’s the rub. Paradoxically, we want two seemingly contradictory things.
My personal beliefs—about individual and group agency, about caring directly and indirectly for ourselves and others, and about the efficacy of prayer—help. Understatement. Pause.
God holds us. My desire to be and do God’s desire is, and will be, part of seeing us through.