Sunday 2 August 2020

And Still, The Road Stretches On...

Recently, my co-author and friend Dr. Zachary White and I have been chatting 
about caregiving with the distinguished Assistant Professor of nursing at Loyola 
University (New Orleans), Dr. Warren Hebert. Warren is an inspiring leader 
in the areas of family caregiving and home care. Our chat led us to topics such as 
the 'sacred space of home', the need for rituals and rites to mark the caregiver 
journey and finally, we discussed metaphors for caring. Warren introduced us to 
a poem by the philosopher David Whyte titled 'Santiago' as one example of metaphor. 
Whyte's niece had inspired him to write the poem by walking the ancient 'Camino 
de Santiago' trail all the way from St. Pierre du Pont in France, across northern Spain 
all the way to Finisterre (or, literally 'the end of the earth, where earth meets the sea'). 
Thousands of pilgrims walk this trail every year for reasons to do with contemplation, 
prayer and inspiration. 

In 2015, my husband Jim and I walked a tiny part of the Camino in northern Spain. 
We only had four days to walk, but I located a tour company that arranged for our 
bags to be transported to a different hotel each day as we were a little too old to 
carry heavy packs. I did reflect on my walk as a metaphor for my life of caring. 
Steep hills led to gorgeous views. Valleys obscured the path till a sunbeam revealed it 

And finally, we came to the sea - an opportunity to gaze 
at our reflections in the water and I remember thinking, "I made it."
SANTIAGO - by David Whyte
The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back
to the only road in the end you could follow, walking
as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice
that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,
so that one day you realized that what you wanted
had already happened long ago and in the dwelling place
you had lived in before you began,
and that every step along the way, you had carried
the heart and the mind and the promise
that first set you off and drew you on and that you were
more marvelous in your simple wish to find a way
than the gilded roofs of any destination you could reach:
as if, all along, you had thought the end point might be a city
with golden towers, and cheering crowds,
and turning the corner at what you thought was the end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:
like a person and a place you had sought forever,
like a broad field of freedom that beckoned you beyond;
like another life, and the road still stretching on.


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