Today I received an email that my priest and his wife plan to lead a pilgrimage next summer to the sacred places of our faith. Just glancing at the itinerary, which will tour holy sites in Scotland and England, made my heart leap. In particular, the idea of visiting the ancient Isle of Iona, Scotland, where the Book of Kells may have been written, made me pulse with desire. I want to be there, to walk among those ancient rocks, to tour the monastery, to be on that island in the company of spiritually like-minded companions.
I emailed my friend, and asked about the estimated expense, and when I received her reply, I felt myself physically deflate. Here are the thoughts I had when I read the cost:
- Oh, crap. That’s a lot of money.
- No one in our congregation wants to go more than I do.
- Stream of consciousness list of all those who will be able to go with no real financial effort.
- Holding it against them.
- Wondering why I don’t have more money.
- General feelings of bitterness.
- Thinking about things my husband would say, all of which are variations on “we can’t afford that.”
- Reminding myself how old I am. When will I get to do what I want
- Giving up on the idea altogether.
This all happened within a span of thirty seconds or so.
Giving up, friends, is most certainly not the same as allowing, but it seems that’s how I’ve been manifesting it. I think I’ve been experiencing “allowing” as not getting what I really want and resigning myself to it. And being sort of pissed off about it on a low-grade level.
Allowing means, I might be able to go. Then again, I might not be able to go. I may be able to afford it; I may not be able to afford it. Allowing, I think, is holding both possibilities in your mind simultaneously, and not cursing either. And most definitely, not cursing your self.
I am not there yet, because I still want to go to Iona, and I still sort of resent those who can effortlessly just decide to go.
What I learned today isn’t very yogic, except for the fact that it is what it is. I tend to throw in the towel pretty quickly, give up, dis-allow for any positive outcome. I seem pretty eager to embrace the certainty that I cannot do something: I cannot have an entire summer off like my teacher friends, I cannot stay home and write all day because I have a regular job, I cannot go to Iona next summer.
My dear friend, although not a student of yoga, is pretty yogic minded. Of course, she is married to a priest, but that doesn’t make her spiritual by default. Her reply, as I whined about not being able to afford the trip, was quite insightful. “Iona will be there in the future, but you never know what the year will hold,” she said.
She was telling me to allow for the possibility that something wonderful might happen, either next summer or some other time. Every wonderful thing does not have to happen on my tiny brain’s schedule.
So maybe I will get to go to Iona next summer, or maybe not. But I want to allow for both possibilities.
Here’s an Irish girl blessing for you today, stolen from Emily Dickinson, and which I need most of all:
Dwell in possibility.