As we transition seasons from Autumn to Winter here in Melbourne, the remainder of the deciduous trees are in the final stages of surrendering their autumn dresses of lemon and lime, and tangerine, wine red and paper-bag brown. And I feel ready to surrender the silence that unexpectedly enveloped me after I fell.
I spent 1.5 weeks on crutches and 3 weeks applying ice for two hours every night to reduce the enormous swelling. An x-ray confirmed it wasn’t broken. However, I tore the anterior talofibular ligament in my ankle almost entirely apart. As you can imagine, this isn’t ideal for someone planning on walking thousands of kilometres. The healing has been steady but slow. And the fall triggered realisations that caused me to surrender plans made:
I surrendered the need to be fully prepared
I intended to start seriously training physically for my pilgrimage to Jerusalem as of Easter to give my body 5 months to condition to walking long distance again. Sustaining my injury the week before Easter with a long healing period forced me to release that plan.
As I learned from walking Via Francigena, the actual walking is the training. Nothing fully prepared me for walking an average of 23 kilometres day after day carrying all I needed on my back other than doing it.
Sometimes we delay our dreams because we’re not prepared enough or we don’t know enough or it’s not the right time. A lot of the time that’s just the rubbish our egos tell us to keep us “safe” where we are right now. You probably know enough to start and you’ll figure out the rest as you go.
I have listened to my body and waited patiently to return to exercise only now that it feels ready. I have 12 weeks to train as much as I can, however much that ends up being. It will be enough.
I surrendered the plans made by my ego
Late last year I started considering the possibilities for my pilgrimage — which way I would walk and from where I could start without overstaying the Schengen visa constraints. I decided I could start in Padua (near Venice) and walk to Jerusalem via Rome a journey of 4,200 kilometres.
After I fell, I realised that my ego hijacked my dreaming, that I played into my ego’s story of not being enough, that I felt I had to prove myself as a pilgrim and walk as far as other pilgrims I had read about that ventured off the mainstream path.
I was also trying to draw out the journey as long as possible to avoid the return and the actions that must be taken and the decisions made after I return.
When I dreamed back into my journey after falling, I realised that my dreaming points take me from from Canterbury to Rome and now from Rome to Jerusalem — not Padua to Jerusalem, not any other starting point to Jerusalem than Rome.
And so it is from Rome I will begin walking to Jerusalem on 1st September.
I let down a friend to walk alone
Initially I had planned to walk to Jerusalem alone. Then feeling scared and uncertain, I asked my pilgrim friend Peter (with whom I walked the last 9 days along Via Francigena into Rome) to join me and he agreed. A while later he cancelled because he fell in love with a gorgeous French lady he met walking from his home in Denmark to Santiago de Compostela. Then only a few weeks before I fell he asked if he could walk with me again to help alleviate his sleeping disorder. I agreed as I thoroughly enjoy Peter's company but after I fell and hurt my left foot, I suddenly realised that I needed to walk alone.
So many people ask me if I am afraid. I was apprehensive in the very beginning but after all my dreaming into my journey and the inner work I have done, I find now that I’m not.
Although I was taught “stranger danger” as a child, as I walked Via Francigena, I was only ever received with curiousity and offered support from local "strangers" I encountered along the way. I expect exactly the same as I walk from Rome to Jerusalem.
Marianne Williamson said, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
By walking alone without fear, I want others to know, especially women, that they can walk their own way, and alone if they choose.
By walking alone, I want to take away the potential rationale that I was safe because I walked with a man.
I long for women to follow their deeper callings and not hold back because of fear as I believe this will bring deep healing to our world.
This is not about putting myself in unnecessary risky situations — I walk with awareness and intuition and take considered risks.
This is about not letting fear choose the path I walk in life.
My fall and this period of silence has turned out to be a source of great strength to me and I am grateful for the gifts it has given me.
Now I am ready to walk in anticipation of the journey ahead.
Now I am ready to emerge from my silence and share my voice, my insights, my stories so you can walk beside me on this pilgrim path.
With love and courage,
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