Travelling – A Severer, more Girt-up Way.

Gleaming boots, bright morning.
Gleaming boots, bright morning.

So proud am I. My boots have not looked so good in years. Cleaned and polished ready to take me along the towpath beside the Thames in Reading, Berkshire. From north to south the whole feel of the country changes. The buzz and bustle of humanity is notched up considerably down here in the south and so close to London. North Eastern Cumbria is a backwater by comparison. The major buzz up there is sheep getting ready to lamb. Barrrr! Transplanting oneself, traveling, involves *girt*ing up to leave the known and step into that vulnerable place of being-on-the-road.

And it isn’t just traveling that has one vulnerable and in need of finding refuge from the buzz and bustle of life. Where do you go to for safety and comfort? On a radio program last Saturday one of the precentors posed that question. As a child he would climb into his built-in wardrobe. Really! And then listeners phoned in with their revelations. One grown woman said she climbs under her office desk so she can’t be seen or found. Others take refuge in wardrobes, airing cupboards, under a bed etc. One could think this is a sign of mental/emotional instability however I am thinking maybe such behaviour is not so strange. Small confined spaces are where we can feel physically secure providing the opportunity to let the buzz, settle. A space which facilitates the call to turn within oneself and reflect on big questions, without distraction.

Yesterday, emerging from the car at the priory here in Reading I realized how the confined space of the car insulates and holds secure and safe. Relatively safe I have to say considering how physically vulnerable one actually is in a vehicle traveling in fast-moving traffic! So there is an illusory element to that safety pod on wheels, as also with that cupboard or favorite hidy-hole of childhood. We know the temporary/ethereal nature of these secret spaces and perhaps that is what draws us back.

Our girt-up way of living, our on-the-road severer and constantly active way, is balanced by answering the often subtle call to return within ourselves. The mediation cushion or bench, or chair is the answer to that call. Or it might a hidy-hole…

*Girt up*; prepared or equipped, as for a journey or for work, an allusion to the ancient custom of gathering the long flowing garments into the girdle and tightening it before any exertion; hence, adjectively, eagerly or constantly active; strenuous; striving. “A severer, more girt-up way of living.” J. C. Shairp.

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