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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Journeys.

In November 2009, the group focused on the topic 'Journey'. What type of a journey it might be was left open to the imagination of each writer. I chose to engage in a personal journey.


JOURNEY.

There is an old saying that states a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Although there is truth to this statement, I believe a journey must begin with a decision to undergo some transformational initiative. Our first step, then, is a realization of a need for such a journey. Perhaps our second step on that journey is taken with the recognition of the focal launch point for this life-altering experience. Every journey has a beginning…sometimes we only understand the journey from inside the tumultuous ride, the cranking and churning of our wheels and valves, as we become aware that indeed we are on some mythical and wonderful personal journey. It is a journey that could take us a lifetime.
Ah, could I lay me down in this long grass
And close my eyes, and let the quiet wind
Blow over me – I am so tired, so tired
Of passing pleasant voices! All my life
Following Care along the dusty road…
                                                Edna St. Vincent Malay

Most commonly, journeys are physical relocations from point A to point B.
               The women come and go
               Talking of Michelangelo.
                                    T.S. Elliot
They might encompass a preparation aspect, but primarily they consist largely of the movement through time and space. They take effort, concentration, and will to persevere. They may overlap with or intersect journeys of self discovery where the individual remains physically transfixed while an emotional or mental sojourn is undertaken. This emotional or spiritual journey can end in an awakening (or re-awakening) of personal response to our environment, or to the humanity that cohabit in our sphere of existence. It may bring us spiritual rejuvenation. It may cast us into the throes of despair. After all, not all journeys are happy and life fulfilling ones.

A personal ‘journey’ through life is another dimension of the ‘journey’ concept. The way in which we are exposed to various stimuli and the impact those incursions have on our state of mind and our actions, is a well-explored theme in various forms of literature. As we age, we leave behind our old selves - our perceptions, our understandings, our personal baggage, sometimes even our ideals – as we stretch and grow into something or someone we never even saw coming. Perhaps in the end we become a caricature of our dreams and our ideals. Perhaps we are left bitter and lonely with our negative experiences.
I grow old…I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
                                                            T.S. Elliot

Each day is a journey from the opening of eyes, until the head reclines at end of eve. Opportunities to change, to experience, to dare, are all within grasp. We take a few more steps. We can continue along a well worn path, or deviate to break free into uncharted territory. My daily journey is about how I fill in those precious hours.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
                                    Robert Frost

 

            Our Christian journey must be our most fulfilling.
            I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
            I fled Him, down the arches of the years
            I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
            Of my mind; and in the midst of tears
            I hid from Him, and under running laughter…


            ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
            I am He whom thou seekest!
            Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’
                                                 Francis Thompson
We find our purpose and meaning as we draw closer to our Creator God. We feel His love for us, utterly undeserved, utterly free and life affirming. We experience the freedom of the liberation from earthly desires and ties. We feast on the intoxicating freedom as we give praise and glory to Him. Our lifelong journey is not a journey away from what we were at birth, but a struggle to overcome the obstacles of life as we travel toward that bright light and the reunion with an all-loving God, having made the choice to bare our souls and allow Him to enter into our life and transform it.

By: H.M. Peter Westin



Another member recalled a more tangible earth bound journey.


The Journey, Jamaica to Bermuda.

The journey began on January 11th, 1947, travelling first from Mandeville (Jamaica) to the Capital city of Kingston, a drive of about 70 miles. Mandeville, the place of my birth, was a quiet town, set inn the beautiful hill country, approximately 2000 feet up – known for its perfect climate. A small town, everyone knew everyone else.

            Except for a few years of boarding school in Brown’s Town, I had never left my mother and home. The coming journey had taken a considerable time and planning. I was in my 18th year.

            The drive to Kingston was uneventful, except passing through great herds of the beautiful, so called, Indian cattle, used for transport in the vast cane fields – these animals were very large, and dwarfed the small Austin 7 car – towering over us, but quiet and harmless.

            The last night in Jamaica was spent with old friends. I was overcome by many emotions. I was excited at the thought of the new adventure, trying to convince myself that I was doing the right thing. Uncertainty continued to ‘knock at the door’. Fear, yes, and sadness at the thought of leaving my mother alone. Sleep did not come easily that night.

            January 1217th, 1947. The journey begins. Palisados Airport, and waiting, on the apron, was my aircraft. It looked quite small to me, but I did not know what to expect. My methods of transportation previously were cars, bicycles, horses and donkeys! There she was, a converted Lancaster Bomber, in large letters ‘British South American Airways’. Waiting at the other end of the journey, The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Nursing School.

            My first flight! I had no idea what to expect, I felt so for my mother, but ‘the dye was cast’. The flight was called and I walked out in a daze! Entering the aircraft I noticed that there was no clear walkway up forward, to the nose of the aircraft – instead, there was a series of ‘spaced’ bulkheads about 2 ½ feet high. Seating, only for about 12 people, an elderly couple and myself were the only occupants. There was a stewardess, and obviously the pilot and co-pilot. An engineer? I was not aware of other crew. We taxied down the runway. I was nervous, clutching the arms of my seat. Then I looked out of the small window – what a shock! We were in the air.

Normally this flight went from Jamaica to Caracas, Venezuela. For some reason, we were, instead, going direct to Bermuda. I was delighted about that – as I thought of the vast ocean over which we were flying. The pilot announced that our altitude would be no higher than 9000 feet. As we proceeded, the temperature in the cabin got colder and colder – I sat shivering, clutching myself with my arms. The stewardess presented me with a light blanket – even then I was very cold. I was wearing a long sleeved navy blue wool chalet dress, and as I looked at the dress, it was covered with white fluff from the blanket – making me think of sheep that needed shearing!

Seeing my discomfort, the stewardess suggested that I come up forward, and sit beside the pilot, as the sun was shining in brightly and I would feel warmer. Walking forward through the cabin meant climbing over the numerous bulkheads, I did so, and was welcomed by the pilot. I was so scared I don’t think I said a word to the pilot, but sat down beside him, then I looked out of the windscreen, but it just kept on curving downwards, there were my feet, and as if there was nothing solid beneath me – I could see straight down, 9000 feet to the ocean. At that point I jumped up – I did not have a seatbelt, which was probably just as well, and I went as rapidly as I could back to my seat – trailing the fluff and the blanket. This was a 6 ½ hour flight, I just sat, dumbfounded, asking what am I doing here? It seemed as if we flew not hours, but days, and gradually it was dark and the small overhead lights did nothing to cheer me up.

I had not thought of taking any reading material, however, I doubt that I could have concentrated on anything but the drone of the engines. I had been assured that the engines were “top of the line” Rolls Royce. Doubtless, they had given many thousands of miles service during World War II. At last! An announcement telling us that we would be landing in Bermuda at Kindly Field Airport – out destination.

Walking in to the terminal I probably looked like a lost sheep, in every way. An official from The King Edward Hospital  was due to meet me on arrival – no one showed up, but finally a message saying they would be with me shortly.

I have no recollection of the drive to Padget, but was taken up to the Nurses Residence, met by one of the RNs, she was from Jamaica, and we had know each other some years past. She thought I might like something to eat! Another new experience! Prudence opened a can of something that looked pretty unappetizing saying, have some sauerkraut – one taste and that was enough! Innocent girl that I was – food for me was good Jamaica cooking. I have never tried sauerkraut since, and have no intention of doing so.

Unfortunately, my room mate was late arriving from Canada, so I was on my own. I must have slept at some point, and awoke to a sunny but cold Bermuda January day. My room mate arrived later, wearing a full length fur coat – as she entered our room, my first remark was – “You look like a bear!” We have been friends for many years since that traumatic experience of my first journey, and my room mate’s too.

By: Brenda Quin.
           


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