I’m in the midst of attempting to pack and prepare for my upcoming soul strolling adventure in Galway, Ireland. I’m both excited and nervous at the same time. I’m going to be traveling with some wonderful fellow pilgrims, some of whom I know and others who I am yet to meet. My friends Christine and John Paintner are the wonderful leaders of this pilgrimage (www.abbeyofthearts.com).
This pilgrimage feels important to me, and I can’t quite seem to put to words all that is sifting within my soul. My maiden name is Heaney, and my Dad’s paternal family line is from Ireland. The Heaney family can first be found in the Northern Irish county known as Derry, in the province of Ulster. Aside from that, I don’t really know that much about my Irish heritage. My Dad’s father was born and raised in Alexandria, Scotland, along with his five sisters. He didn’t talk much with my Dad about his family whilst growing up. Apparently, his father was a heavy drinker and that’s about as much as I know. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away 7 years ago, so I don’t have him present to ask. I am intrigued and curious to see what unfolds for me internally, in the simple act of holding my ancestors and whatever their stories are, in prayer. I will be in Ireland during the time of Samhain. A Gaelic festival which is celebrated from sunset on Oct. 31 – sunset, Nov. 1. It marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, or ‘darker half’ of the year. In Celtic spirituality it’s known as a ‘liminal’ time, where the veil is considered thin between this world and the next. My Dad always celebrated with bonfires that lit up the night sky, and as part of our family Hallowe’en tradition, growing up in Canada, we always had fireworks and celebratory smaller ‘bonfires’. In retrospect, this was my Dad’s practice of bringing his faith and spiritual practices into our family. One of my favorite authors on pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau, has this to say: “If your journey is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren’t trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn’t the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion.” The Art of Pilgrimage. I think this has much to do with my internal sifting 🙂
Are there places that call you to practice ‘soul strolling’ and pilgrimage? Where might those be?