Our two weeks in Nova Scotia gave us lots of “aha” moments. We will never forget the late night guided graveyard tour in Annapolis Royal when the heavens suddenly opened and rain quenched the candles in the lanterns. The voices of new immigrants telling their poignant stories at Pier 21, where almost a million people set foot on Canadian soil for the first time, will echo in our minds. And we will smile at the memory of the old red phone box plunked in the middle of a vineyard, where we were invited to make a free call to anyone in the US or Canada.
I like what St. Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” There are times when I just long to gobble up every page in that book, and hope there’s a library of more.
So I was taken up short when I read these words in Inspired Rug Hooking by artist Deanne Fitzpatrick: “We need to believe in the value and importance of our own lives, and the way we do things, and what we have around us. We need to sit on our own front stoops to find ourselves first before we set off on some transcontinental journey. The way home is in your own breath and in your own stillness.”
I don’t think Deanne Fitzpatrick is telling us to quit traveling. Rather, if I read her right, she is saying that if we are travelling just to escape what we consider our own mundane life, we might be better off first to take a close look at the life that is around us right here, right now. If we are bored with that, all the journeys in the world won’t give us lasting pleasures. There are life-enriching discoveries to be made right in our own backyard, if we’ll only cultivate an awareness of possibilities.
Case in point: one morning, a week before we were going to depart on our Maritime trip, I woke up to find our yard bedecked by hundreds of spider webs. They were draped over the evergreen shrubs like white handkerchiefs made of gossamer threads. They were hanging between shrub and post, finely woven in dew-drenched silk. The yard was booby-trapped with sticky invisible threads that suddenly wrapped themselves around me as I unsuspectingly crossed the patio or opened a door. It felt like the spiders had dropped in overnight in their silk parachutes, invading the country of our backyard.
|my idea of a spider and spiderweb, stitched on a crazy quilt|
When I did a little research into what was going on, I found out that, no, there were no more spiders than there normally are – but the weather changes had made their webs more visible. Also, spiders were nearing the end of their life cycle, and were feverishly trying to pack it all in (reminding me of myself, as I become more aware of the passing of time!) I also learned fascinating myths and stories about spiders that got me thinking about spiritual things, but that’s for another blog. What had begun as a small visible experience became an inner journey. Sitting on my own stoop had launched me on a voyage of discovery of a different sort than any exotic journey, but valuable none-the-less.
And here’s the bonus: weeks later, as were hiking the seashore in Nova Scotia, with a continent stretching between us and home, I discovered ... spiders! They had stretched webs between the bushes lining the cliff, and there were dozens of them within a square meter, all doing their thing.
The farther you go, I discovered, the closer you may be to home!