“it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” ~ Henry David Thoreau
After five years it was the dogs that took me there
We discover new gems each time, but also have our favourites and rituals. One of these is to venture to Holy Island or Lindisfarne – a small tidal island with a rich spiritual heritage. You have to plan a trip carefully as only at low tide is the causeway road passable. Arrive too soon or too late, or forget about returning, and you’ll have a long wait until the tide drops again.
We park up, (visit the loos), head towards the castle, let the dogs off the lead and on to the coastal path. Walking along the path, eventually we can see a white stone obelisk in the distance. In past years we’ve decided it’s too far and take a left turn to bring us back to the village. But this time the dogs ran on ahead. Clearly, we were going further – to the obelisk.
It’s strange that this large construction is here on this beautiful headland, yet it feels in the right place and the right size. It’s a white granite daymark navigation beacon positioned to help seafarers navigate the correct way into the channel. So, it needs to be in that place, and it needs to be that size given its purpose.
Now closer up than ever before, in that instant I held the image inside me – “that’s it” I said, “that’s my vital voice”. With a new realisation I could speak with a different timbre, a braver more authentic voice. Sometimes we are gifted an image or form or words (sherpa was to become another such for me) that speaks to us in a way that is instantly transformational. We are taken across a threshold to a place of certainty, a big Yes!.
These moments and gifts are giving conscious awareness and form to our unique transformational proposition in life. They are naming and sighting that which sits at the centre of our being and that we simply have to be faithful to, because to do otherwise would mean we are not living our unique and distinctive life. Spiritual teachers talk of this experience and knowing being akin to discovering our own personal myth, or the realisation of our mythopoetic identity (e.g. here).
Whatever way we describe it or experience it, I have found little value in deconstructing its meaning. I have adopted the practice of apprenticing myself to it. I come back to that image, and moreover the sensation it evokes time and again. I often find myself inquiring “what is the obelisk asking of me now?”.