Travel Light. You need much less than you think. Alternatives can always be found for those things you deem so necessary. For example, the swimming costume I sent home on the morning of the afternoon I finally had a chance to go wild swimming. It turns out that swimming in your undies works perfectly well. Nobody was there to see me anyway.
Don’t have too fixed a plan. Getting lost might lead you to somewhere you didn’t expect which might be an unexpected bonus.
Rely on the goodness of people. From the prayers of my companions on the Cursillo, their love and good wishes, to the hospitality of complete strangers: air B&B hosts who simply left the door unlocked in order for me to arrive and make myself at home, the local farmer who stopped for me and took me to the ferry for Iona. I’d been waiting at the roadside expecting to flag down a bus but he not only guessed where I was going (there really is only one destination once you’re that far west on Mull) but he also guessed who I had been staying with, and regaled me with entertaining stories about the locals for the entire 10 minute journey.
Don’t waste time worrying what people think of you. My companion Fiona needed a new waterproof jacket and finding some on sale in a local store, she decided to buy one. They had one in my size so I asked her if she minded me buying one the same. I think maybe she might have minded just a little bit but she was very gracious in not saying so. So it was that we left the store in matching jackets. Here we are in a photo taken by the shopkeeper – you’ll notice my lovely rainbow handbag… I think possibly this handbag and the matching jackets may have then given rise to a number of misunderstandings about the nature of our relationship. We were particularly tickled the following day when, on arrival at a cafe, the waiter took one look at us and brought out the ‘gay’ crockery set. The experience was an interesting one in that you realise how quick people are to make judgements. Not that any of those judgements were unkind, thankfully and nor did we feel any need to explain ourselves.
Keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see. This beautiful deer ran across a country road only 20 feet ahead of me. Thinking I had missed the opportunity for a photograph, I was delighted when it paused and posed for me at the crest of the hill beside the road.
Remember that what might seem like a problem might actually turn out to be okay. We arrived at one place we were staying, a hotel, and opened up our room to find out that it had not been cleaned from the previous night’s guests. Although we were tired and ready for a shower, the hotel gave us free tea and cake in the lounge for an hour while they sorted out the room and when we finally got in there was also a free bottle of prosecco
Try not to be too disappointed when you are not able to do things the way you had planned to do them, instead try to enjoy doing what you can. I had planned to do this entire trip on a bike but actually really enjoyed walking about 8 miles each day and when I reached my final destination, Iona, I was delighted to discover that I could rent a bike for two hours – so I did get to cycle in Scotland after all.
Be kinder to your husband who snores. My light sleeping friend had to wake me up twice to tell me to stop snoring. This has made me much more understanding of the fact that David’s snoring is completely beyond his control
The world is full of sad things so if you are given the chance to experience joy beauty or the opportunity to relax, it is your duty to enjoy it. There is a time for joy and a time for sorrow, don’t dilute the former by misplaced guilt over the latter. When the time for sorrow comes round your experience of joy will sustain you.
Remember that you are a) utterly insignificant and b) magnificently unique. At the start of my retreat weekend I was given a stone and I was invited to either give it back in the final service or hold onto it, depending on what the Holy Spirit might have said “through” this stone. Here is the stone that was given to me and I have chosen to carry with me through this sabbatical. Since that first weekend I have walked on many beaches with many such stones which is why this particular stone reminds me of this beautiful paradox. I am utterly and completely insignificant, like a pebble on a beach I am only one individual in one brief moment of time. BUT, just like every single one of those stones on the beach, it took aeons to bring me into being. The stripe of differently coloured rock in the middle of this pebble was laid down millions and millions of years ago. Since then, the pebble once part of a much larger piece of rock, has been shaped and smoothed by thousands and thousands of years. My faith reminds me that I was a person in the mind of God, even before time began. This stone, then, reminds me not just to keep myself in perspective but also to honour the God who uniquely created me, the same God who promised Abraham that his descendants would be “make the grains of sand on the sea shore” or like pebbles on a beach.