The night before I left, Grace, Gabrielle and Gabrielle’s boyfriend Matthew, all came over to dinner with Karen and I. We had a great sharing and prayer time before departure.
During the evening, Grace said something that stuck with me. It pierced me. It reached to my core. It was the simple phrase, “stay with your feet.”
As i left the next day, said goodbye to Karen, flew to San Francisco and then to Dublin, I was pondering the call to be present where my feet were. I was present doing yoga with Karen that morning. I was present saying goodbye. It was my call to be real, be present to the teacher who had just spent a year in Auckland and was flying home to Dublin on the flight from SFO.
Be present to Andy our dear friend who met my flight and whom with his wife Louise, hosted me. Be Current. Available. Engaged as we connected after three years. Remarkable that they would welcome me again, a virtual stranger, into their lives!! We shared deeply that first evening over dinner and in subsequent conversations. Rich fellowship. Deep similarities in life stories. Connected points of pain and recovery. We used the same language to describe our stories.
It is easy to become distracted in a conversation but I was consciously present. My feet were there, at table, I too needed to stay present there.
Stay with your feet, Shimer.
The next day I found myself wandering the wet shining cobblestone streets of Dublin. I love that city!
A man, lost in Dublin, accosted me for assistance finding his way!! Ah “the blind leading the blind,” I thought!!
This dear man had recently arrived from India and was more lost than was I, an incredible thought! And, equally marvelous– I located his street on my small map and was able to direct him to his destination.
Stay with your feet. Remarkable, for on that day I was frequently lost and needed the assistance of others to be find my way.
Actually I received the same instructions more than once- “keep walking that way,” they’d tell me, pointing, then often added, “it’s basically a straight line from here.” It was anything but…
Staying with my feet meant walking — some 13 miles that day — noticing the people, being aware of my own heart, in touch with the environment around me, and finding the “way” anything but straight. Praying, giving thanks for the angels who helped find my way. “Step through the garden, turn right, and it’s basically a straight line from there.” “Follow this way to the end, turn left, and the road be right in front of you.”
I lost and found big buildings in Dublin — Trinity College, Dublin castle, Christ Church and the National Museum — reminding me that I needed to not worry forward, but stay with my feet in the experience of being disoriented, slightly lost, finding the next set of directions.
Some of those Angels were: the young black woman with the beautiful smile and super curly hair who ran from her station in front of the whiskey museum around the corner and got “a better Dublin city map” for me, found where I was and how to follow the basically straight line!
The policeman in his crisp uniform who in finding my actual location on my map pointed me in the exact opposite direction than I thought I needed to go 😳🙊 and instructed me to follow the road ahead for my destination was “basically a straight line from there.”
The large, portly, smiling, gray-haired woman in the tourist agency who handed me the map saying, slightly soured on life, “it’s the only thing free around here.”
The museum greeter, with his rosy red cheeks, half glasses, gray hair, and jovial expression, who made me an official badge, and found my friend Andy for me while I waited in the lobby.
The tour guide in her smart suit who pointed me in what turned out to be the wrong direction, but because she did, a sign in that way got me on the right path.
All these, and more, helped my feet take my next step in hopefully a better direction, to focus not on the destination but on the path. To stay with my feet.
I joined the long line of 200-some passengers for the plane to Bilbao, but, because I had delayed in boarding, then visited the toilet one more time, returned to line to find, there in front of me, a girl with a small backpack. And there hanging on the back of her pack — a Camino shell. My feet had placed me behind a fellow pilgrim.
In our brief conversation before we boarded, I learned we will be walking the same route but starting from different places. She had walked a good portion of the frances route three months ago and learned all she didn’t need. Back now meeting her family to walk a portion of the northern route she had shed all she wouldn’t need. Her pack weighed only 9 pounds!
I arrived in Bilbao to the shocking news that the “Bilbao hotel” I’d booked was actually a nine-hour drive away in another city! Oops!!! Staying with my feet meant accepting that mistake, the disorientation, the fear and just move forward without a rush into the future or the past!!
On my first day walking 13 miles, 3090 feet up and then down again, I’ve found I’ve needed to stay aware of my Feet in the way of caring for their needs they’ve had– taking off my shoes, rubbing down my feet, stretching out.
On this journey hopefully I will simply stay with my feet!