I penned this piece as I sat in the hotel terrace perched on the brow of a hill just outside Kastamonu; a small town at an altitude of almost 1,000 m which dates back to the 18th century BC Hellenic period.
The name of the town is derived from a later period when Kastra Komnenon (the fortress or castle of Komnenon) was built in the 10th century Byzantine era. It is also mentioned in the tales of the travels of Sinbad where he reputed stayed for 40 days. The fortress town of Kastamonu later flourished under Turkish rule and several archeological sites from the Turkish era from the late middle ages onwards dot the town. It is markedly orient in demeanure.
That morning I was awakened by the muezzin calling for prayer. Four calls later, my day’s work was over and I was back at my accommodation enjoying a fiery sky slowly submitting to the nocturnal hues over the Byzantine castle beyond the town on the horizon.
The gentle reflections of the great celestial fireball on a town about to sleep set the tone of my mood and compelled me to reflect.
Life is a journey – and what a beautiful journey it can be if we allow it to be.
Perhaps one of the underlying secrets in life is to know when to pull, when to push and when to “let go”.
No one chooses the hand that we are dealt. But we all choose how to play it.
What I have learnt from hiking in the company of like-minded individuals from diverse walks of life over the years is the importance of companions, or fellow pilgrims, on this great Camino called life. I am sure many can identify with this. We can all narrate our personal experiences of how a helping hand, a shoulder to lean – or even cry – on, a word of encouragement were gratuitously experienced by virtue of us being at a particular place (real or virtual) at a particular time. These gratuitous encounters may also have come from sources that we least expected. They may even have helped transform challenges into new opportunities of growth or kindled a spirit of adventure; strangers became friends, concern morphed into relief or accomplishment as we lived to “walk another day.”
My life companion and I were recently at an event where we met friends that we had not crossed paths with for several years. It was nice to reaffirm old friendships and reminisce with them on the diverse, intricate roads life has led each one of us on. I was also reminded at this event of a psalm that I hold close to my heart, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
Almost 30 years of travelling and even living overseas has presented its fair share of uncertainties and challenges. I am sure that many can relate to this because we all have our uncertainties and challenges in life. In the midst of this, one of the cardinal rules I have learnt to embrace is that, “the Almighty does not do flood lights.” He can if he chooses to; but He doesn’t.
This reality means that, in continually accepting light, warmth, love or affirmation in bite-size chunks, we can digest these better. Gluttony even of all things good leads to waste and to taking our Benefactor or his emissaries for-granted.
The daily provision of a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (in whichever form this presents itself) is also a daily re-affirmation of the Almighty’s constant commitment to humanity and His vote of confidence in us on our journey called life.