In preparing for the journey we pack our bags and get ready. There are the usual personal items we pack for a trip: clothes, toiletries, etc. These days, an essential personal item is our phone charger. At Canterbury people will sometimes come for an extended conference that lasts a week or more. You forget a toothbrush or razor and it causes only mild frustration. But forget your phone or laptop charger, it becomes a major crisis!
In life we depend on many things. Sometimes packing for a trip begs the question, “What do I really need for this journey?” The essentials of life (food, water, clothing, shelter) are very basic.
Beyond the basics, we count on certain creature comforts – these are things that are important to us; when we don’t have them we feel a little lost. In a month or so I will travel to a favorite hideaway in the Appalachian Mountains. It is fully furnished and then some, everything I need is there but I still take a favorite blue furry blanket. It is something that I have traveled with it for over 25 years, it is exceptionally warm and I like having it with me.
I take off my wedding ring at night. There have been a few days in the mad rush of a busy morning I have forgotten to put it on. I feel it’s absence all day long. My hand is accustomed to it and it is almost as if I am out of balance with it missing form my finger. In and of itself the ring is not of great value but that ring has become a part of me. I feel lost without it.
These non-essential but important items give meaning and security to our journey. What are the important non-essentials you need for your Journey? After the basic needs of life are met our lists may vary greatly. Years ago I was leading a workshop and I asked this question: “If your house was burning down and everyone and all the pets were safe and you had time to run in and grab two things what would they be?” A man answered, “Probably my briefcase as it has all my work and my golf clubs.” A woman then answered and said, “I would grab the family picture albums and my wedding dress that was worn by my mother, her mother and grandmother and I want my daughter to wear it.” The first man then chimed in, “I would like to change my answer.”
Packing for a journey should make us ask, “What do I really need?” As you go about your day think of what is important, what is really valuable and you take those things with you. You’ll be glad you did.
Mary Ann McCunn, Canterbury Staff:
“Home was always a healing place from my earliest childhood memories and throughout many years of marriage and family. It was a place of joy and celebration as well as dedication and work. But then it wasn’t. Canterbury became my home of healing.
I had been there before. It was so lovely. This time, however was different. Very different. My husband of 30 years had just left me for another woman. There are barely words to describe what followed. My beautiful teenage daughter was daily spewing anger at me and when she left for school I could barely get off the floor. But I HAD to. I had to get to work, I had to cook; I had to function… I had to just keep putting one foot in front of the other…
I printed “Do the next thing.” on my bathroom mirror and kitchen window, because that’s all I could manage to do – the next thing… And I needed reminding! I can only describe this as akin to a drive-by shooting. Our lives were in critical condition, everything, past, present and future, and all we believed to be true was being incinerated right before our eyes. It took months to “zombie” walk through the shock, the unceasing, searing pain but decisions had to be made and most importantly I had a daughter who was reeling as much, if not more, than I. I had to be strong and keep life as “normal” when it was anything but that. Having a front-row seat to her despair only deepened my own.
Month after month, I would go to the dock at Canterbury…for hours. Summer turned to winter, and winter to spring. Then summer again. Canterbury has been the most painful, beautiful gift. It gave me my place of healing. It became my home when “home” was a neither a peaceful nor a healing place. I’ve seen lovingkindness so many times, in so many people, and especially on that dock at Canterbury.
It’s been years now. I still go to the dock at Canterbury. There is huge turtle there. He comes every time I’m there. What a sweet, sweet reminder of life! In the little metropolis of Oviedo and the businesses just outside Canterbury, this dock, this place, and the sheer beauty of it is saturated with peace and healing. That’s the best Canterbury Tale I know!”
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