The road was calling me north and I couldn’t wait to finish work and give in to its blandishments. The sun was shining and warm, the forecast unusually good for England. The fields were ablaze with the brilliant yellow of rapeseed, the hedgerows, bending beneath the weight of May blossom, awash with wildflowers. Pink campions covered the roadside, pale blue forget-me-nots, bright starry ransom and banks of anemones, and, in the shade of the trees, carpets of bluebells linger. The dandelion clocks swayed in the breeze, sending fairy-like seeds up in clouds to dance beneacth the trees. It was a glorious day.
As my job extends over seven days each week and any day off is deducted from my holiday entitlement, I make the most of these trips north for the monthly meeting of the Silent Eye, so the journey is part of the adventure. Refusing the mind-numbing boredom of the motorways, I have a route I now know so well that I could drive it with my eyes closed, if I didn’t enjoy it so much.
South to north, crossing half a dozen counties, I watch the seasons change. In the south, the roses and summer flowers are starting to bloom and spring is almost over… in the north, the bluebells still flourish and all the eager energy of spring is in the air.
The road, though, sometimes has ideas of its own, and beckons me in new directions. Following some inexplicable impulse, I took a new turning, finding a lake had never seen, where golden gorse tumbled down the hillsides, impossibly bright. There was a village that announced itself as a Saxon settlement, where I was obliged to stop and visit a little Norman church that just happened to smile at me as I drove past… and which contained some rather interesting Norman and Saxon artefacts things, given the current state of our research. As I drove through Matlock, I spotted a perfect prop for next April’s workshop in a shop window too…
When I finally arrived in Sheffield, we spent the evening talking through the workshops and, next morning, the discussions continued until we left for the meeting and throughout the drive across the hills to Sale in Greater Manchester, stopping to check in with a friend on the way, leaving a note when he wasn’t home.
The meeting went very well and proved even more productive than we could have hoped, leaving us with yet another avenue to explore with our latest research. We called in on our friend again and this time, found him at home. We stayed an hour or so, catching up, before crossing the hills once again, watching the sun set over the moors.
Next morning, we got down to some serious work for the June workshop in Dorset. It was thirsty work, so by lunchtime, we had adjourned to the Druid Inn, where we continued over cider in the sunshine.
“What are you teaching with that?” asked the gentleman at the next table who had been listening as we read aloud. We explained, and a lengthy discussion ensued. He and is wife were replaced by another family with similar interests… and, after finishing our work, stroking a stray chicken, and wandering down to the churchyard, we headed out to Matlock to buy that ‘perfect prop’… and then in search of a very late lunch.
Sunday morning, we had arranged to meet a friend who had been with us on the last two workshops and take her to a stone circle. With the access land closed for the nesting season, we had to rethink, and took her to another one instead, where we did some work with the stones… and by the time we all sat down to lunch, it was tea-time and we were shattered. All that remained was to get up at six next morning for the long drive south to work… even though we had, in a different way, been ‘on duty’ all weekend.
It had been a wonderful and productive couple of days and I had thoroughly enjoyed it all, but, as I drove home, I found it amusing to note that our weekend ‘off’ work had been so busy. Then again, they always are. The day job may be a practical necessity, but the work we do the rest of the time never ceases, even when we do no more than talk. In fact, the weekend itself had been a perfect analogy for how the spiritual path, once its call is accepted, pervades every area and moment of life.
Some of the work had been formal and structured, requiring our concerted effort and attention. Some of it had needed no more than the lightest touch, a response to a moment, or listening to the needs of others or the inner promptings that defy logic. Some of it touched our hearts and called up tears… and some of it had been pure joy. But we had not been ‘off duty’ for a moment.
We walk a spiritual path, whether we are aware of it or not. Once you have chosen to do so in awareness, however, there is a shifting of gears and you cannot move blindly on your journey. In esoteric circles, it is called ‘the Work’ for a reason. There are no boxes, neatly labelled, into which you can pack different aspects of your life, no Monday to Friday or nine-to-five compartments, no slot on the calendar for ‘being spiritual’. It touches every fibre of your being and informs every moment of your life. Even when you ‘get things wrong’, and that is human and inevitable, you will take responsibility and use each mistake as fuel for growth.
Just like the weekend, sometimes the spiritual path calls upon your full attention, sometimes it feels a hard path to walk, sometimes it is but the lightest of touches… and at others, it is pure joy. You are never ‘off duty’… but it is always an adventure.