The constant inbetween

Dear ones

This week I recommenced a regular walking practice. I call it a practice because I don’t just walk for exercise, I walk to see the world around me slowly on foot, and to invite inspiration for writing as well as for inner knowing and guidance on my life path.

A few nights ago, I left the house a little later than usual, it was very late dusk but not quite nighttime. As I walked I reflected on this particular time of day where it’s not dark, but not light. It’s an inbetween time. And I remembered this poem that I wrote while I was walking the Via Francigena pilgrimage route…

 

You see the road

stretch long before you.

Just as you begin to fall

into despair’s embrace,

you are caught by grace,

set back on your feet,

to do the one thing

you know you can do;

take one step

then one step more.

You are here

where you have

chosen to stand.

The goal is never arriving,

which of course you will

then leave again.

Accept there will always

be a long road,

a coming,

a going.

That stillness you crave

only a temporary possibility.

Let go of the clinging

and the desire

to be other than where you are.

Learn to love this life

in the constant inbetween.

I wrote this poem on Day 15 of my Via Francigena pilgrimage while I was walking from Laon to Corbeny in France. While it was only a 27 kilometre walking day, I felt like I would never make it to Corbeny and that I would be walking forever. To distract myself, I decided that I would write as I walked. I asked for inspiration, opened up a writing app on my Ipad called Textilus and this poem streamed out. With it came a deep peace and acceptance of where I was on my journey and trust that I would arrive when I arrived as I had done for the 14 days I had been walking.

For me, this simple realisation (and re-realisation) of living in the inbetween still brings me much peace and acceptance in my life now. I am inbetween leaving a career and starting a new one but I am filled with peace and faith that I am being guided and supported by life no matter how slowly things seem to unfold.

I hope that this realisation serves you in your life too.

And if you are contemplating a journey such as Via Francigena, I hope you will trust the whispers of your heart urging you to go. The calling is sacred. The insights that are waiting to be revealed to you may continue to serve you for the rest of your life too.

With love and courage,

Kym xx

After the rain comes sun (and an excerpt from my book)

Looking down at the cemetery on the way into Berceto (Italy) on the Via Francigena

Looking down at the cemetery on the way into Berceto (Italy) on the Via Francigena

It’s been a tough 6 weeks with constant stomach pain, and grief and stress all coming up to be loved and healed.

Last weekend my body voiced its need to rest, heavy and lethargic with no desire to go anywhere or do anything. So I rested at home watching a new favourite series, Call the Midwife. I adore Sister Monica Joan with her poetic, mystical, deeply emotional and wise nature.

Contemplating what I would write about today in light of my current challenges, I remembered when I was walking the Via Francigena, how the ever-changing weather and the mud that clung to my boots tested me almost daily.  And so I felt inspired to share some excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Path We Make.

“After the rain comes sun. It managed to break through the clouds for large parts of the day. I welcomed its warmth on my skin, pausing to bask in the simple pleasure of it. Yet after the rain also comes wet grass and mud. Although my map showed that the canal path continued all the way into Châlons-en-Champagne, I followed the guidebook’s detour via Juvigny and trudged through 500 metres of thick, gunky mud that clung to the soles of my boots, gluing my feet to the ground. I hated the mud to the point of repulsion. I hated how it felt under my feet and I hated getting dirty. After stomping along for a time, I was relieved to turn onto a gravel path, but after 900 metres the gravel led to more wet grass and thick mud. The last 100 metres I walked through were a tangled mess of knee-high grass and blackberry bushes. The Red Beasts were wet again and so were my feet. My soles were clumped with mud and my pants smeared grey-brown. I missed the turn onto Rue St Martin that led to another field, but I didn’t mind walking along the hard bitumen for a while longer. At least my feet weren’t getting wetter or coated in more mud. Two kilometres down the road, I turned onto a gravel track back towards the main trail that became four more kilometres of clay and wet grass.

If I had to choose between walking all day in the rain on bitumen roads or walking in the sunshine on muddy wet tracks, I’m not sure which I would choose. They were both short straws: the bitumen punishingly hard, the rain a pain and the mud just plain repulsive. I tried to find something positive about mud and wet grass but couldn’t. It was annoying and gross and that was all. I was so happy when I finally turned back onto the concrete towpath and scraped the mud off my boots with a small stick. I had never spent this much time outdoors with limited shelter, exposed to whatever weather swept through, and with the need to keep moving. Unlike the week I walked through Tuscany in summer, when it was hot and hot only, I was experiencing four seasons almost every day, often numerous times each day, and it was testing my ability to accept what is.”

The Via Francigena pilgrimage tested me deeply and consistently on emotional, physical, spiritual and mental levels.  But for all the challenges, there were many gifts. Here’s another excerpt from my book from when I was walking from Berry-au-Bac to Reims in France. Kermit cloak is the name I gave to my green rain poncho.

“During the day I cursed the weather frequently. Melbourne is renowned for having four seasons in one day, but on this road it was four seasons every hour. Kermit cloak on then off, warm layer off then on again. Repeat, repeat, repeat! As frustrating as the weather was, it had its blessings too. A sudden shower forced me to put Kermit back on and then five minutes later the sun came out scorching, leaving me cursing as I ripped the Kermit off again. I rounded a corner and saw a host of yellow and purple wildflowers glistening in the sun. My cursing turned into cries of amazement.”

Amidst the frustration and trying times can be great beauty. And if there’s no beauty to be seen, don’t lose faith. The weather will eventually change, as will the seasons and the terrain you travel. Keep breathing.

With love and courage

Kym xx

What you are capable of

When you are tired and your feet are throbbing from the forty thousandth step and the fourteen kilos loaded on your back.

When your hips muscles spasm rebelling against the thirtieth kilometre you have walked today alone.

When your body is crying its song of pain only you can hear and begging that you stop.

You do not.

You question why you do this day after day and if it is the only way to find what you seek.

But each morning you still wake to walk, and you keep going until you reach the place you know you must be to find shelter and warmth and nourishment to thank your body for its service despite its complaints.

As you pass through another village, the chalky smoke of old fires burning invoke desire for rest.

The dark whispers tell you that it’s okay to stop, that you can quit and just go home.

But your spirit surges through your heart, strong and determined.

It tells you, laughing kindly, that you still don't know what you are fully capable of and you will never know if you skirt the flames.

You did not come into this world to live easy.

You came into this world to find out who you are and to discover the enormity of your own power.

You came into this world, to live this ordinary human life extraordinarily.

Rediscovering the thread: an urban pilgrimage

Rediscovering the thread: an urban pilgrimage

"For in their hearts doth Nature stir them so, Then people long on pilgrimage to go."
—Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

From the silence beneath the noise, I feel it—a tug from the unmet mystery to wander out into the world, and a push from my desire to meet it.

My mind starts trying to formulate a plan: starting and end points, how long and far I want to walk, what time I will leave.

But this call asks for none of that.  It is not about duration, exercise or a final destination. The call just asks me to get out of my chair, get dressed and follow where it leads without needing to understand where, why, how or when.

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Life: a masterpiece of curiosity

Life: a masterpiece of curiosity

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”—Joseph Campbell

At the moment my writing is going through another phase of floating through a snow dome and so I have been quiet on the blog. There has been some significant change in my inner and outer life and more injury so I must simply wait for the mud to settle before I can write about it. However, I feel inspired to share a small timely insight.

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The best worst days of my life

The best worst days of my life

“Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant.”—Paul Coelho

The eternal optimist, I kept on hoping and believing that my body would heal so I could walk from Rome to Jerusalem.

When I started to accept that even if my body did miraculously recover in the next few weeks that the distance and duration of the walk might turn out to be too much I started flirting with the idea that walking the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela could be a possibility instead because the total duration and distances between towns is shorter.

Yes, I was still thinking about walking somewhere even as my body was screaming out “no friggin’ way” and cramping down to protect itself— even on the days I could barely walk 40 minutes without having to sit down because of the spasms and pain. 

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Will I walk? Hope, miracles and uncertainty

Will I walk? Hope, miracles and uncertainty

I arrived in London four weeks ago today. I never thought I would travel halfway around the world to spend weeks sitting in my friend Viv's living room but that is how I have spent most days since my back seized.

Pain and illness are often our body crying out for us to look at what is happening in our lives. Too often we ignore it and get on with life and its busyness.

In Australia, I grew up with the Codral Cold n Flu ad telling me to "Soldier on with Codral, soldier on, soldier on."  

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