IMG_3632The other day I was on the mobile, talking to a friend, when she asked me what I was doing. Perhaps the heavy breathing made her curious!

“Walking home,” I answered.

I kept striding along the bayside trail and talking to my friend, both activities at a pretty hectic pace, but one part of me had stopped, rolling those two words over and over in my mind.

Walking home.

Walking home.

I’m always walking home, I realised. It’s what I do every time I set out for a stroll, a wander, a saunter or a pilgrimage. It’s what I do when I walk out the front door or into the wind; away from someone I love or toward a challenge; and even when I sit here at the desk, tapping at these keys, I am walking my self home. I’m not sure where that home is, but it’s located somewhere within, I think. It’s the part of me that is still and quiet; the part that grins like a loon when I’m loping along an open road; the part that remembers the rhythm of camino days; the part that knows I need nothing other than air to be happy. To be whole.

When I can locate it, it feels like what they call grace. But it eludes me too often.

I was not walking home when I sat on the phone for an hour yesterday, reporting a faulty telephone line. The call centre staff were doing their best, so why couldn’t I keep my breathing even and my tone calm? I’m not walking home when I wake at 2am panicking about failure or the uncertainty of the future. Of course the future is uncertain. I know there are no guarantees, even for those who have contracts and salaries. Why should that wake me in the night?

At those times, I forget that I am walking home; that every heartbeat, every in-breath and every out-breath is a reminder that if I choose to be, I am getting closer.

PB083824I must choose.

I can’t always expect to know I’m on the path, as I do when I walk out on welcoming, shaded roads.

I must actively choose to see every step as a step toward home. I must hold the memory of that in every cell, and trust that I am getting there. That we are all getting there.


Home safe.

Home free.

That’s something to write home about, isn’t it?

Coming home. Going home.

“Walking home,” I said, when she asked what I was doing. Even if I never make it, the journey will be beauty-filled if I can only keep that simple mantra close.

Walk home. Walk home. With every breath, may you walk yourself closer to home.



22 thoughts on “Walking home

    1. Thank you, Emily. For stopping by, and for that quote. I have never heard it. I like the idea of walking each other, too. That somehow it’s a communal experience. Beautiful.

  1. Dear Ailsa,

    Wonderful words. Thank you for them.
    I am baaack.. never really left, of course, just too bloody disorganised to tap in…..

    I know well the walking home feeling …… and can barely say those two words without tearing up. Our secure “home” has been turned over somewhat in past 18 months with financial and employment upset, but have learnt to live better with insecurity and embrace hope and faith more.

    Had a lovely “home” moment a couple of weeks ago that I immediately thought of you with and wanted to tell you about.
    I read for a couple of young foster children ( boys) through an organisation called Pyjama Angels. I love it and usually opt for boyish stories, Harry Potter or some such. For some reason I chose a Poems for young children volume at the library just to try them out – and they LOVED it. The now choose it every week over other books, and beg me to read them poems in a rhythmic tone – and often the same one over and over …( The Jabberwocky is a favorite?) Is this their coming home song? Does it feel like they are being rocked again , soothed and tucked into words that touch a core of them unreachable by other means?
    Maybe I am reading too much into it, but when I was driving home from my first poetry experience with them, I was bawling my eyes out.
    It felt like grace – and that I was also coming home.
    Best to you.

    1. Dear Julie,
      Welcome back – or welcome home! We have so many homes, don’t we? Or maybe way-stops…
      Whatever, it is lovely to see you here again, and with such an extraordinary story. Your little boys sound like they are being nourished beautifully by you and the poems. I am thrilled to hear that they ask for verse, and that you are walking them home – see Emily’s comment above. I have never heard of Pyjama Angels – what a name, and what a remarkable sounding group. I am going to google them. Have you tried The Owl and the Pussycat yet? I wonder if they would like it. Just finished reading The Woman Upstairs – a far cry from the book of poetry, but the Jabberwock played a surprising role in it, and I’ve been much in the world of Alice.
      Such byways, we take each other to…
      I hope that your own home is calmer now, and that faith and hope are constant companions. Insecurity has always been such a given in my world, yet it can still bite hard, so I understand that if it has not been so present, it must be shocking to the system. I hope that your garden still provides some solace, and that stability feels possible again.
      Grace and coming home. In the midst of the insecurity, how lovely that those boys gave you that, in return for you giving them the gift of poetry. Sometimes it even feels like there might be a kind of goodness in operation, even when it’s dark.
      Spring approaches…
      Thank you for returning. For coming back to this little “home”. It is renewed by your story.

  2. Hi Ailsa, Thank you so much for the beautiful words about walking home. It reminds me to be more mindful of all the precious gifts that come into our life to help us find our home within. The photos are beautiful, I’m holding the image of the trust stone in my heart as a reminder to focus on trusting and turn away from fear.
    Thanks again for your inspiring words Ailsa.

    1. How lovely of you to write, Kathryn.
      Yes, fear…if we could all turn our backs on it, we’d be free.
      The little stone is a beauty. I carry it all over with me. The word is rubbed pretty thin, now, but I know it is there. A kind of palimpsest. Trust rubbed onto my fingers.
      May it infuse you.
      Thanks for your visit.
      Ailsa x

  3. Sooo beautiful, so so beautiful. And the rock, the grand finale. Loved it. I feel such calm and sublime when I read your words and thoughts. Thank you for sharing.
    And I miss you!

    1. Ah Miss Soula. The day is better just for seeing your name. Thank you dear one. Let’s rectify the “missing” very soon. Strength to your spirit. Xxx

    1. I was thinking the other day that we rely too much on words, but then sometimes they are the most direct connectors we have, aren’t they? I’m so glad that sometimes mine can hit the spot for people. Part of that is finding the word to articulate it to me – and of course, we are all the same, deep down, so the resonances can occur when I can see myself.
      Bit circular, but you get the drift!
      Thanks Karen. We shall keep walking!

  4. I love what you write “walking home ” is such a comforting thought, home to the nest, the safe shelter, the comfortable haven, the warm den.

  5. Hi Joan,
    Yes, all those delicious images and home-comings. And all somehow inside of us too. Trust your homecoming is always peaceful and easy. Thanks so much for stopping in at this little way-station. A kind of shared home! xx

  6. What a beautiful image of “walking” – active and moving forward and a rythmic cadance to the stride which requires looking forward to the path before you. If you look too closely at each step you are more likely to stumble and lose your way, but you must keep your eyes up to the path ahead. And then there is “home.” A sense of stability, comfort, familarity, security, where we expect to be sheltered and loved and love and find nourishment. I have been reminded from so many different directions that it is important to nourish our souls with the activities that involve our unique “gifts” which is where we find this internal “home.” This has touched me, Thank you for putting those words together, they have inspired my day! I must keep my eyes on “home” to experience it in my everyday life!

  7. Hi Ruth,
    Yes, that juxtaposition of motion and stasis is powerful. We need both. Opposites can teach so much. Touching on each brings balance, hopefully. The inner and the outer. So vital. Keep homing in on self. Keep walking. Send me a wave! Thanks for your visit and your reflections. X

  8. Home, home, glorious home! Keep walking… and “may the final miracle be home” – you know where that’s from! Can’t wait to see you. Lxx

  9. Oh I do do do know where it is from. What a poem and what a way to make me get misty eyes. Thank you dear one. Tomorrow, tomorrow… Xxxxx

  10. Hi Ailsa,

    You have this lovely writers ability to trigger all sorts of favourite memories !

    Visiting mum in the secure dementia section we would often find her bag packed on the top of her bed.
    “Where are you off to ?”
    “Home” was the simple reply.
    But where home was varied from no. 134 with her parents, no. 9 where she and dad first lived with her sister and husband, to no. 25 her family home of 48 years and very occasionally to her little unit near the sea.
    Each home with its own special memories.
    “Going Home”

    1. That is completely beautiful Brian. So tender and kind. Always wanting home. Always going home. Even when she was going nowhere she was still going home. Beautiful. Thanks.

  11. Hi Ailsa, I am so glad that I was sent the link to your wonderful blog by a friend whom I had recommended to read your thought -provoking book. Since I have read it, I have lent it to two other friends, both avid walkers and now my daughter is reading it. We have all found it a fascinating read. I have now caught up with all your previous blogs and podcasts and also been inspired to seek out more poems by the poets you have generously shared in the book and online. Your reflections on home particularly spoke to me, as the older I get, the more I think about what ‘coming home’ means to me and how important it is in sustaining my sense of self in our busy lives. So I just want to say thank you for all your insightful reflections, poems and photos.

    1. Dear Caitlin,
      What a gift you give me. Thanks so much. It means such a lot to hear that the words resonate – that they come home. I’m very very grateful to you for taking the time to leave such a beautiful note. Gracias. X

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