Things You Leave Behind

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m remembering that day in September when I stood with the others on the shore of Iona Sound.  All forty-one of us from the Abbey were invited to take a pilgrimage to all the important sites on the island.  That portion of the beach was where St. Columba and his followers landed their boats in 563, bringing Christianity from Ireland to Scotland.  The sand was covered with rocks, all rounded and smooth, the most I’d ever seen.  We were asked to pick one, to symbolize something that was burdening us, and throw it into the sound in an act of leaving it behind.  Without the weight of that rock, we could move forward to be all we were created to be.

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St. Columba’s Bay

I chose a large black one, holding it in my hands and feeling the heft of it.  Standing in the sun, I thought about what burdened me.  Soon the answer came.  Much of my energy was spent trying to protect myself– from embarrassment, from making mistakes, from being less than perfect.  It was hard to freely move as God’s spirit led when I was having to keep up my defenses.

What if I let that go and just live in the moment, trusting that God will make up for my inadequacies?

I stayed with that question and walked on the rocks, holding the one in my hand, considering how fear had been at the base of my defensiveness.  I was tired of holding the rock, and I was tired of holding on to my need to defend myself.  It was time to let go.

Standing at the shore, I threw the rock into the water, waiting to hear the “thunk” when it hit the surface, a reminder of the weight that I’d let go of.  Others from our group were doing the same, quietly walking out to their own meditative spot and dropping their rocks on that Scottish shore.

We gradually returned to the trail and continued on with our pilgrimage.  I wondered if I’d be able to leave that burden back in the sound.

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Island Pilgrimage Iona, Scotland

I kept that thought with me as the week progressed.  The next night at dinner, staff from the Iona headquarters in Glasgow joined us, including one who was a videographer.  They had come to get footage of participants sharing what it was like to live in the Abbey community.  The two men and woman happened to sit at the table I hosted as part of my evening meal duty.

As we were clearing plates, the woman, who’d sat next to me asked, “Would you mind being interviewed?”

“Right now?” I asked, remembering I hadn’t had time to brush my hair or freshen up before dinner.

“Yes.  We’ll go out by the cloisters,” she said.

Let it go, Connie, that still small voice of God seemed to be saying.  Just be yourself.  Don’t worry about how you look or how you sound.  The sound part was the ongoing self-consciousness I had when people made comments about my Southern accent.  While most were good-humored, they still made me uncomfortable at times.  This would be my first test of letting the rock sink in the sound.

I found myself relaxing as the interviewer helped me stand at the best angle for the camera and told me the questions he’d ask.  It felt good to be part of their project and to express my gratitude for how that week had enriched my life.

There would be many more tests since that September day.  It occurs to me that I needed to leave that burden behind so that I can move forward into 2018.  Now I’m free to be fully engaged in whatever God puts in my path in the new year.

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Iona Abbey Cloisters

What about you?

What burden do you need to leave behind before you step into 2018?

How would that impact your journey?

 

9 thoughts on “Things You Leave Behind

  1. Connie, How fortunate you are to have experienced what you were able to hold such as The Abby at Ionia. You were able to search for, learn about, question more, and find an action to the meaning of your life. Where you hit the home-run was having the strength to meet the challenge and move to another plain at which you chose to observe. Your little voice is connected and you chose to connect to it for the ultimate guidance. The year 2018 will prove to be the year of pivots to many paths. Your understanding and Faith has given you the edge on acceptance of those pivots. A Blessed and Best New Year to you and all you know.
    John

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting, John. We all have that guidance available to us. I think if we start each day with the intention of listening for God’s voice, and following step-by-step in the way we feel led, then we’ll find the person we’re meant to be. Best to you in 2018 as you step toward the desires of your heart. Happy New Year! Connie

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad to have found you Connie. I trust this is no accident. I enjoyed your post. Leaving behind burdens was a big part of my early journey with God, then this past summer I had to come face to face with more buried pain. With He who held my hand, I am able to move into 2018 more free individually. Yet, still weight in parenting a son with anxiety. Thank you for this post. Blessings, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Julie. I don’t think there are ‘accidents’ as the #peopleinourpath are there for a reason. Yes, there are phases of letting go to the things that bind us. As long as we’re human, it’s never ‘once and done.’ Parenting is the most rewarding and the most difficult job in the world, especially when our children struggle. I pray that God will help you to release your anxiety about your son, and just be present in your love for your child. I have two sons and know some of what you’re speaking of. Best to you, Connie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you had a beautiful experience that day. Self-preservation seems to be built into our psyche but often works against us, doesn’t it? It prevents us from being our fully authentic selves. Fear can cripple and then we don’t realize the full potential God put in us. As I get older I’m getting better at it, but like anything, it’s a process. I’m glad you are learning to ‘let it go’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully written. I could picture you on the shore with that rock, hoping, praying to be able to let go of that burden. I’ve taken burdens to the altar and tried to leave them–sometimes I’m successful and sometimes not. Thank you for reminding me that the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to let go of pain and move forward with Jesus. Wishing you a happy and blessed 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Katherine. I agree with “sometimes I’m successful and sometimes not.” Life is a process, and we just keep honestly trying. You’re right, we move forward with Jesus, our companion for the journey. Hope you have a great 2018, too! Connie

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