Off the beaten path

A couple of days ago I wrote a piece about Caroline Myss and her experiences along the path of El Camino in northern Spain, when she spoke of a “tunnel of grace” built up by a thousand years of the footsteps of pilgrims.

And it made me think of the footsteps of our ancestors.

Motorised transport is still such a recent thing. My father, can remember a time when cars were so scarce in his town in Donegal in Ireland that his mother, my grandmother, got a lift to the hospital a couple of times a year. When my dad started working (towards the late 1960s) he got a job in a town 60 miles away, and his Friday evening and Sunday afternoon commutes to and from his “digs” could take several hours, usually relying on a series of hitch-hiking hops each taking him just a few miles further along the road.

As motorised transport is so recent, it follows that most of our roads are recent too. These roads criss-cross the country and concrete over the ground beneath them and remove the closeness of our connection to the earth.

Roads are not going away; it would be ludicrous to want them to.

But it’s not a binary choice. We can benefit from all the wondrous possibilities of modern transport without losing our connection to the paths our ancestors walked.

In many cases, when we get off the beaten path we find paths and trails and tunnels of grace that have been walked for dozens of centuries by those who went before us.

When we leave the newly beaten path, we might find a path that was beaten down by others hundreds or thousands of years ago, opens up an invisible but tangible history to all of us.

The trails of old pilgrimages and hilltop monuments and riverside towpaths all present opportunities to experience our own tunnel of grace. Go out and take the first step, and be open to what the energy of the world can give you.