Category Archives: Spirituality

Great North Walk: Post script from Stockton Beach

My footsteps in the sand in Awabakal lands

My footsteps in the sand in Awabakal lands

Time of writing: 8:00pm 14 July

As I lay here in my tent for my final night before returning home, I can’t help but look back on the highlights of the past two weeks. It already seems so far away; it’s odd how that happens.

I think the thing that’s touched me most are the people I’ve met along the way:

  • the artist lady and her children who reminded me to keep an eye out for animals and birds
  • the fitness walkers in Lane Cove who wished me well
  • the father with his children who kept me company that first day when I was quite anxious about whether I’d make it to the finish
  • the Duke of Edinborough group who welcomed me around their campfire
  • the Christian missionaries who left me with such a sense of peace
  • the cyclist who took me to water
  • the Scout leader who shared a yarn with me when I was lonely
  • the teenage boy who insisted I take $3 in change because he thought what I was doing in taking on the GNW was inspiring (I am going to donate the money towards my Cycling for Hope challenge)
  • the wounded warrior camped next to me at Stockton Beach who gave so much for my freedom (I hope he finds peace for he is only my age but has paid a heavy physical and emotional price)
  • the man camped on the other side of me who I only met tonight but who offered me a lift to the airport (I politely declined because I have to leave early in the morning)
  • all the other people who’ve taken the time to stop and chat as our paths have crossed.

The journey has been intensely physical but also deeply spiritual. Everyday I have spoken to the elders past to tell them why I was traveling through their land and to offer my respect. Everyday I made time for prayer. Today I bought some simple prayer cards from a church of another denomination from mine. I spoke with the good people there and they gave me an extra card: A Blessing for Travelers. I will keep the prayer in my heart and will also wish it on others who take a journey on or off the road:

Loving and gracious God, you always show mercy to those who love you, and you are never far away from those who seek you.

Remain with your servants as they travel far from home, and guide their way by the light of your Word.

Shelter them with your protection by day, given them the light of your grace by night, and as their companion on their journey, bring them to their destination in safety.

May they see your face in everyone they meet, and know the depth of your love on every road they walk.

At the end of their journey, may they return home once again with renewed faith and hearts full of joy.

On this journey I learned that if I just put one foot in front of the other and don’t give up, then, even with a heavy load and rest stops, I will get to my destination. It might not go according to plan and plans might change. But that’s just par for the course. And the most magical moments occur when my heard is open to hear what my ears cannot.

The End

(for the Great North Walk story)

Total: 16km walking around Newcastle over two days

Links

Long ride to think about stuff

Ford Road by Andrew Gills
Ford Road, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I set off into the darkness, pedaling out in a direction yet to be determined. It’s rather metaphorical for where my life is at right now; heading in a direction yet to be determined.

This ride isn’t about the scenery but about the time I need to think things through. There’s a lot going on in my head right now. Simple dreams I pushed aside because I thought that I was expected to do ‘more’ with my life. I have opened a can of worms recently by starting to talk about those dreams. A scary can because I know the coming years are going to force me to choose between financial security and answering a call I have felt in my heart most of my life. While it’s easy to say ‘follow your heart’, I have to consider my partner and son’s financial needs too; not just my own.

So the long ride gave me a chance to think about things. I’m not yet ready to find the answer but at least I am finally open to considering my options.

Total: 59.4km road cycle

Stopping to listen

I don’t usually talk much about it but I am a man of faith. It’s something important in my life but, like so many things, I sometimes forget to stop and listen to my faith.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of complaining about my back. I’ve been a little self-centred. It’s normal and it’s human to feel this way sometimes. But it’s important not to make it a habit because it can become a trap.

This morning I went to Mass. As a Catholic I have been absent from church services since I left school in 1996. My transition from female-to-male in 1998 created a barrier between me and the institution of my religion but did not hamper my faith. If anything, it forced to evaluate my beliefs and strengthened my commitment to live in Jesus image. Recently, I had the courage to write my local priest, Fr Marce, to ask whether I would be welcome in his parish as a transgender man. He welcomed me with open arms and I have now attended two of his services.

Returning to the point of this post: This morning I felt the call to attend Mass. And I listened.

The Gospel and sermon were about how we need to put Jesus at the centre of our beings because Jesus is about Peace. It was about how sometimes worries and anxieties fill us with darkness but that Peace will push the darkness aside.

It’s nothing I didn’t already know. But it is something I had forgotten. It’s something I needed to hear.

As I sat and prayed I engaged my core, I sat up straight, I relaxed my shoulders and I remembered to breath. And today I will focus my chi on allowing peace to flow rather than on complaining about something that is a minor frustration in the broad scheme of things. A frustration that is actually creating space in my life for reflection, refocus and a pain free future.