Tuesday, 6 May 2014

May 6, 2014

Best, worst and funniest

Often when my kids were little we would have dinner while sharing our best, worst, and funniest moments of our day. As I sit at Heathrow waiting for the flight to Halifax, I am filled with many memories of this latest pilgrimmage to Corrymeela. At our final dinner on Sunday evening, we sat at a round table at a popular Italian restaurant in Belfast, Villa Italia, sharing our best, worst and funniest memories of the week. Among the best ...

-          The sessions with Paul, particularly the first day and how he had us laughing one minute and extremely uncomfortable the next, and how we realized that there was a lot of deep learning in the discomfort
-          The beauty and hospitality that emcompasses life at Corrymeela
-          Rachel’s sharing of her story
-          Rachel and Deryk greeting us as the bus arrived on Tuesday afternoon
-          The day in Derry, and the sacredness of Jon McCourt’s story

There weren’t a lot of worst moments – certainly watching one of our members take a tumble in the Interpretation Centre at the Giant’s Causeway was named (she’s ok ... but bruised and sore).

Some of the worst moments (particularly mine, it seems ...) became other people’s funniest ...

-          One of the worst moments for me was on Monday when we were accosted over and over by competing tour guides for the Belfast City bus tour ... in exasperation I practically yelled at them (okay, I’m pretty sure I did yell at them ...) “Stop it! Do you know how frustrating this is for a tourist?” I guess that was pretty funny to everyone else ... in hindsight I can see that.
-          There was another running joke throughout the week. On our first evening, when we were creating our group standards to be agreed to by all, I said that the one thing I didn’t want to do was stand on a street corner with 7 people and try to make a decision. I said that if that happened, the top of my head would blow off. It happened at least several times the first day ... by the time we got to Tuesday evening and the reflection with Rachel, I was realizing that I could survive 8 people on a street corner making decisions. Rachel gave us each a footprint to draw images and symbols of our journey so far ... mine is below. April was beside me while we were doing it. She looked over and said “Is that the top of your head blowing off?” “Yes” I said, “but the next picture is one where it’s back together. I am realizing that sometimes you have to make decisions on the street corner, and I guess that’s ok.”

Perhaps that’s a good metaphor for the week – in some ways, perhaps all of us had the top of our heads blown off as prior assumptions, new knowledge, emotions, and our own experiences  got all mixed together. But we survived, even thrived after the initial discomfort, thanks to the gentleness and generosity of spirit of each member of the group, and of our amazing facilitators, and the fact that Deryk and the Corrymeela community took care of us so well. 

This spring I read a wonderful book called "The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry", a story about a retired man who sets off to mail a letter one day, and instead of putting it in the mailbox, he decides to hand deliver it by walking across England. It's a wonderful story about surprises, friendship, love, pushing through the hard times, and the gift of the journey. Sometimes I thought that this trip should be called "The Unlikely Pilgrimmage to Corrymeela in May, 2014" ... but ...


Once again, I watched the hills of Belfast fade into the distance in the early morning. Until next time – hopefully February 2015.


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