Have you ever noticed how wonderful it feels to come home after being away for awhile? Or to be healthy after being sick? I got to experience both together recently, and I really noticed the impact on my gratitude, joy, and sense of contentment.
It all started last fall, when I received a newsletter about a week-long workshop that would be taking place in Scotland at the Callanish Standing Stones. I knew immediately that I was supposed to be there. From there, it grew into a 6 week odyssey that took my husband and I through The Netherlands, Amsterdam, France, the UK, and the Northwestern Isles of Scotland.
We began and ended in Minneapolis, where winter still ruled the day. A week there on either side of the trip helped with the jetlag, splitting the distance between Hawaii and Amsterdam. We spent three nights in Amsterdam, one in Antwerp, and two in Paris. It was all very whirlwind, a mere taste of each place. Then on to the UK for a three nights in Edinburgh and a disconcerting drive on the left side of the road to Inverness. From Inverness, we flew to the Isle of Lewis and were driven to the Doune Braes Hotel to be with our group of 27 workshop participants and facilitators.
What brought us halfway around the world was a workshop entitled Renaissance of the Sacred Feminine, Re-dreaming the Magical Link between Land and Sky, Soul and Spirit. It was a return to my spiritual roots of Celtic Earth-based spirituality, sprinkled with Shamanic Astrology, ceremony, Shamanic Breathwork, and visits to four of the twenty-plus Callanish Standing Stone sites. It all took place during the April full moon lunar eclipse and the astrological “grand cross,” aligning us with important celestial and ceremonial timings.
The stones felt like old friends. It was cold, wet, and windy, and we were always bundled in coats, gloves, hats, and “wellies” to tromp through the soft, wet, squishy peat that covers the island. We were up at 4:30 am and out with the stones during the sunrise and moonset of the lunar eclipse, which would begin at this northern latitude just after the moon slipped below the horizon. It was a magical day!
That afternoon, as I was sitting alone in the lounge, a local couple walked in and sat down. They asked about the workshop and I told them about what we were doing. Turned out that Roger was very knowledgeable about the Callanish Stones, and Christina was an artist who painted the stones, highlighting their mystical and magical qualities and symbolism. She was bringing two of her paintings to be hung at the hotel, and with her permission, we hung them above our altar in our workshop room for the duration of our stay there. After seeing her painting of the Carloway Broch, I was inspired to see it for myself and set out on the 20 minute walk from the hotel.
On the last day of the workshop, I woke up with a nasty cold. Others in our group had been sick as well, and I was at the end of my resources after all the travelling and exposure to the wind, wet and cold. I took care of myself, rested, and hoped to move through it quickly, but it was not meant to be. There was still a few days of travel ahead of me, and I did the best I could with it. The descent into Minneapolis after an 8-hour flight was challenging. I rested all the week we were in Minneapolis, and still took the lingering cough and congestion home with me. As of this writing, I’m nearly well again.
I’ve come home full of gratitude not only to be home and feeling healthy again, but for the incredible opportunity to experience for the first time European cultures and countries and languages. It was a rich time of exploration and adventure, in contrast with the calm routine of being home and settled and having easy access to necessities and amenities that I take for granted most of the time.
Contrast offers us the opportunity to turn up the volume on our appreciation of life. Sometimes we can create the contrast, as I did with my travels, and other times, life creates it for us. It’s part and parcel of our human condition, so I say, let’s work it to our advantage!
How has contrast enhanced gratitude in your life? Your comments are invited and welcomed.
Love & Bright Blessings, Amrita