Camino de Santiago

 

“ONE Woman’s Journal on the WAY to Santiago”

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO…A Pilgrimage
March 23rd to May 2nd, 2015

 

As I began my journey,
I was mindful of the words of a Balinese Dancer…
someone out there is waiting for you, so live your life so that they might find you.
As soon as my soles touched the earth, I discovered who it was WAITING for me—
IT WAS SANDRA.

I traversed 500+ miles with endless pilgrims of the past—ANCESTORS who made
this trek…ALL of us walked with our own PURPOSE.  Yet, a collective unity enveloped me.

Join me if you so choose.  The walk has been and continues to be an eternal prayer for me—
its ending was my beginning (T.S. Elliot)

The very temple I sought I discovered within myself—in EVERY pilgrim I met (and did not
meet along The Way.)

An array of pictures cascades through the journal so that you might ‘see’ and feel the ground
I encountered, the landscape—the weathers.

May ‘we’ all share in the blessings life brings to us.  I’m NEVER the same after ‘someone’ has
joined me AND found a morsel of the “Source” who dwells in us—

BUEN CAMINO

A Seeker of Temples…One Pilgrim’s Journal on The Way to Santiago

A Seeker of Temples…One Pilgrim’s Journal on The Way to Santiago

 

What’s In the Temple?

In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still,
but ready to spring.
It begs me to open the door so it can walk about.
The poet speak in obscure terms pointing madly
at the unsayable.
The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting
their thigh calling for us to follow.
The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the
cloud of unknowing.
The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth.
If she stands still it will catch up with her.
Pause with us here awhile.
Put your ear to the wall of your heart.
Listen for the whisper of knowing there.
Love will touch you if you are very still.

If I say the word God, people run away.
They’ve been frightened—sat on till the spirit cried “uncle.”
Now they play hide and seek with somebody
they can’t name.
They know he’s out there looking for them,
and they want to be found.
But there is all this stuff in the way.

I can’t talk about God and make any sense.
And I can’t not talk about God and make any sense.
So we talk about the weather, and we are
talking about God.

I miss the old temples where you would hang out with God.
Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love
draped in warm fur,
and sense the whole tragedy of life and death.
You see there the consequences,
and you feel there the yapping urgency of life
that wants to be lived.
The only things lacking are the frankincense & myrrh.

We don’t build many temples anymore.
Maybe we learned that the sacred can’t be contained.
Or maybe it can’t be sustained inside a building.
Buildings crumble.
It’s the spirit that lives on.

If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart
What would you worship there?
What would you bring to sacrifice?
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?

Get there now..

~Tom Barrett~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
George Berkeley Anglo-Irish Philosopher

March 23rd

“Who are you, O God?  And who am I?”    Francis of Assisi

…AND, so it begins (although it began months ago).  A seed planted in the deepest recesses of dark earth pushed, pulled, tugged, cracked and finally died.  It was ONLY then a shoot thrust itself through the soils—
Somehow it knew in which direction to stretch and NOW it has broken ground…

This seed knows this place as if it passed this way countless times and still this moment is a first.

An ‘angel’ uprooted this seed bringing it to the place that would TRANSPORT this lifeform, this human being to its first ‘carrier’ (this would NOT be the destination).

The second ‘angel’ (so sad if you do not believe in them) was from Africa.  He did not wear a suit and tie but his smile was wider than his face, his t-shirt and jeans made him ordinary.  BUT, he was far from this.  He embraced the first angel…she did her take and now he put the vehicle in drive transferring me to the airport.  Now—here I AM.

Soon a silver bird with metal wings will carry me to a foreign place, a foreign land, a foreign people and language—and it is I who am the FOREIGNER.

I will become an angel unto myself and transport my being onto the fertile earth of the Camino de Santiago.

A solitary stem ‘preparing’ to spread its roots like a vine connecting with thousands, millions of ancient ancestors who walked the Way—each on a spiritual quest to discover or perhaps embrace WHO they were, who they ARE in the God who from before beginnings walked into the cosmos and whispered, “THIS IS GOOD.”

Fairytale, myth, mysterious truth, a cloud of unknowing—it hardly matters.

I’m stirred by the words of George Berkeley, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Alone, yet far from lonely…I am that tree and I will fall into step each day—500 miles.  My soles will ‘join’ her wet, barren, moist, rocky, carpeted, mossy, muddy, snowy floor AND it will NOT matter if no one else HEARS.

I AM seeking Temples.  Perhaps, I seek a Temple.  I will pass countless stone cathedrals, BUT the Temple I seek to embrace most intimately is the ONE inside my very being.  I hear it pulsating as I pen these words.  I am filled with a HOST of emotions…divine hunger preparing to consume the Source ALREADY meeting me saying NOTHING.  Yet, in the NOTHINGNESS I’m hearing—the seed planted, grown, transplanted, FALLEN from Eden realizes it was NEVER truly cast out of this pregnant womb ONLY it burst—is endlessly becoming the FRUIT of its womb RIPENED by the eternal I AM creating and re-creating NOT only yesterday, BUT NOW, yes—this very moment.

Tomorrow’s labor pains are just feeling the contractions—all original blessings as Matthew Fox dared bring to light—the same light Einstein sought to discover again and again AND when Meister Eckhart echoed, “I pray God to make me free of God that we may gain truth and enjoy it eternally.”  How silly those long ago who missed his deepest desires.

I end this day with a final thought before a NEW beginning.  I heard it said by a Balinese Dancer, “Someone out there is waiting for you, so LIVE your life so they might find you.”  What if the someone IS me waiting for me—silently…without recognition, attention from others, without accolades or applause, without wondering, WHAT WILL I DO WITH THIS, THIS__________________?

I’m waiting for ME to love the me embracing this PRESENT moment.

I heard the tree fall…an orchestrated piece never to be heard in the same beat.

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Camino de Santiago/Arrival

March 24th

“This is what Yahweh asks of you; only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to WALK humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

I have arrived in St Jean Pied de Port—the beginning of what is.  Mindful of Micah’s words, I’m drenched literally and figuratively as the rain falls on this evening’s beginning.  Tomorrow I have a full day to explore…to walk patiently and to take in every site, sound, smell…TOUCH!

I MUST return to this morning’s arrival—
I was able to move through the airport like an unnoticed shadow.  In my limited Spanish, I was able to find a cab.  My TRANSPORT—an unbelievable angel.  I do think I saw him tuck in his wings—
He was the first, in Spain, to speak with deep sensitivity, “BUEN CAMINO.”  I nearly cried as I headed to get aboard a train.

I made it with minutes to spare.
The whistle blew and we chugged to Pamplona.

The landscape was an easel painted with NEW hues—green grass, pink buds, muddy water and drooping eyelids.  I dozed a bit trying to fight rest, but then gave in.

The next taxi ride—my final transport to the destination sought.  Upon arriving, THIS angel hugged me—“Buen Camino.”  It felt like a father’s embrace—no awkwardness…a shared glance and his wings took flight.

Here I was—my room adorned with feminine imagery, artifacts, wall hangings…HOLY MOTHER.

I breathed a sigh (not so heavy) when I was told at the pilgrim’s office that the road over the Pyrenees was closed.  The weather had been too inclement—snows buried the trails.  All pilgrims were alerted to the dangers of climbing the mountains so I would not lay my eyes upon the Mother and child blessing me, watching over me as I headed out on Thursday.

BUT, for me…a chord strikes ‘loudly’—knocking me from what I thought was ‘balanced.’  Every root within my being has grown without ‘seeing’—in the darkest places movement ceases AND I trust ONE is there.  I TRUST the SHE who is EVER PRESENT…the carrier, the nurturer of EVERY ‘living’ first—humankind included.  She said yes—having been changed in a moment.  We are NOT certain how it came to be, BUT she bore what grew inside her dwelling—just as every child is born from the womb that has held it…not always with love, yet love is born and reborn a first time over and over.

I hear the drops tapping the window roof over my bed—they carry me to sleep.  I need do nothing but lay this temple down.  Good night!

 

When the heart awakes from sorrow…

It pauses a moment
between each beat.

Listening…
Listening to the sound
every chamber held as it chose
to remain flooded through
the ‘aches’ of grief.

And—
even so…
the chambers expanded… (without seeing).
In time, MORE room was made
by the tremendous ‘weight’ held
till one day
not really certain ‘why’
or how come.

Well…the heart knew
all along—
If ONLY I lift this latch
and then a next and a next,
the delivery of stagnant
blood held itself back
for a single breath.

Then it coursed its way
through veins come ALIVE.
Arteries danced to the rhythm
of its flow…

The heart once broken
NOW ‘crushed’ by love—

Love squeezing and squeezing
until the heart realizes it never stopped beating.

Awake—
The heart has made a friend of
sorrow…

They cannot stop ‘laughing’ with each other
embracing all that is
until the beating stops.

AND—then it understands
how fully it HAS lived.

 

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Camino (One day before I walk)

March 25th (One day before I walk)

 

Across from me…

An empty chair—

I sat across from it
as breakfast was served.

A first meal—
bread broken.
An array of fine spreads—
steamed milk—
and, a pot of fresh coffee.

I bowed my head—
at first, in disbelief…
and then, in gratitude.

The table before me
NOW an altar—
A blessed
Communion.

And—the chair in
front of me
was no longer empty.

I was at
eucharist
and BECAME the
food I ate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In less than 24 hours I shall begin walking The Way…
Mindful of Holy Mother…in the unseeing mystery, I set out upon St Jean Pied de Port to explore.

The sun split the clouds, the rain stopped (for now).  My eyes could not stop scanning ALL the vistas before me.

The cobblestone street beneath my steps led me to The Church of Our Lady—
St James stood before me holding a staff.  The arch I would walk under/through tomorrow pulled me like a string.

I, a fine piece of thread, began rolling into a spool of fabric.  What will I LOOK like in the end? (NOT physically, but yes, physically).  Will my color change from day to day?  Will I become more resilient, strong, able to break by a simple pull only to graft myself back in?

No fears—only a certain sadness as the church doors were LOCKED.  I took a few steps and saw a woman drawing nearer.  She held what appeared an ancient key.  Something in me spoke before I thought, “Mam, is that the KEY to the church?”  She nodded, “Yes” and told me, invited me, “COME.”

I followed—she opened the door and welcomed me to enter.  She gave me permission to walk in first.  I almost declined, but some THING nudged me through.

Deep darkness…in the corner I saw candles burning.  The woman turned on the lights, AND there SHE was.

I wept like someone released the flood gates.  From where did all these tears come?  BEFORE me, the WOMAN holding the seed of Her womb.

I, too, a seed of CREATION’S MOTHER’S womb.  Each of us is born ‘into’ life…a maternal thrust inviting us to BE.  I tried to pray…all that kept coming was THANK YOU, THANK YOU, and THANK YOU!

I felt like the MOST beautiful dandelion.  Yes, a magnificent weed in the garden of life fully blossomed…my seeds already whipped by the winds into the Universe and all that is left…a heavenly stem.  This is not sad…its ending has prepared for this beginning.

 

In the words of Meister Eckhart, “I pray God to make me free of God…that we (I) may gain the truth & enjoy it eternally.”

I’m in the eternal BELIEVING and disbelieving.  I’ve left so much of me behind seeking the me in SILENT WONDERMENT…already I’m seeing so much I know NOT how to take it all in.

The ‘me’ back HOME a LIVING rescuer…No wonder my background…Chaplain (at the age of 25, and even before that during my early years growing up) and a Police Officer for a short time.

The wise words of a member of the Board of Chaplains haunts me—“Sandra, it will be a fine day when you choose a path where you’re NOT caring for the rest of the world!”

Caring for OTHERS has always come naturally to me.  While I am able to share my past with all the moments that brought me here—persons who stretched me to breaking points, this is not about these stories…it is about me and who I’ve become and continue becoming.  I would NOT change one thing…everything has been gift—yes, even the losses.  I know I’ve hurt some, disappointed others, but I can honestly say it WAS NOT deliberate.  I ask forgiveness and I give back forgiveness…trying, trying, trying to BREATHE in and out—LOVE.

It is here that I know God or by whatever name you wish to call the One dwelling inside YOU.  I am the fruit of the womb.  I ‘TASTE’ for this moment for I am ripe, bruised in certain places and still sweet…a few sour patches adding a new flavor to my lips licking just enough for today.

So many faces pass by me this day—The greeting, “Buen Camino” a sacramental blessing ALL can share.

The changing faces of the land, the sky, the sun, the clouds…it feels as if I’m playing
hide & seek—
“Come out, come out wherever You are…”
AND again the Source of life—right there.

I light a candle in the Church of Our Lady—the glow still in my eyes.  May I be a small flicker of its flame as I prepare to GO.

Solemnity (Feast) of the Annunciation

 

A book picked me from a shelf the eve before my walk (A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan)—Its beginning spoke these words to my soul…

“Poets claim that we capture for a moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden (or temple) in which we used to live in our youth.  But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success.  It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years.”

“The unknown element in the lives of other people is like that of nature, which each fresh scientific discovery merely reduces but does not abolish.”

                                                                                         Marcel Proust—In Search of Lost Time

The eve before the journey…I lay in my bed gazing out the window cut in the ceiling…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so many emotions.  I tried to close my eyes, BUT then a sudden LIGHT—then gone.  Was something playing tricks on me?  There it was again, AND this time She lingered
awhile…LUNA’S crescent face above my bed.  I whispered GOODNIGHT and She faded behind the clouds.

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Camino—Day 1

Camino de Santiago—Day 1

March 26th
St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles

I stepped out ‘into’ the morning—the sun MAKING its WAY splashing hues of pink and orange upon the snow covered mountains.  The air—pleasantly crisp and I sang the tune which came to me and which I penned a while ago in preparation for THIS very moment… (and every day forward).

Christ all around me
Christ beside me
Christ within me—Alleluia

Christ all around…all around me!
Christ beside me…beside me!
Christ within me…within me!

Alleluia…Alleluia!

The words barely broke through my lips—tears held for a simple moment.

This CHRIST I knew was WALKING with me.  NOW, if you’re NOT religious I said to myself, I’m NOT speaking of that CHRIST.  AND—if you are religious YES, I’m speaking of THAT Jesus WHO TRANSFORMED the world in His humanness.

He dared to walk a path true unto Himself—
Could I try in this time to ‘look’ ‘inward’ and ‘see’ ‘outward’ the divine incarnation in EVERYTHING?  Yes, even in me—THIS living breathing temple…

A couple hours into the walk, I felt calm, peace—a certain adrenaline rush ‘bursting’ through me.  My dearest Buddhist friend entered my HEART space, “Every single step you are taking Sandy IS exactly where you are meant to be.”

Such freedom.  And, I ask, “Who am I?”  “Who am I God in relation to/with YOU?”  This is who I AM…I’m not changing language to be politically correct.  This is MY WALK with
the ONE I love.

I’m walking through Heaven’s door—openings EVERYWHERE.  I’m so mindful of this HERMIT’S desire…I’ve cared and loved persons a lifetime OFTEN loving me last or NOT talking the moments to LOVE me.

I’m certainly not anti-social.  I embrace the energy within me that draws persons closer & closer & closer.

I know when I’m breaking open story—referencing Scripture, I see in the eyes before me such a desire AND then my desire BECOMES a flame.  It’s as if I cannot stop pouring out a LOVE message from the ONE whom I often see to be a MIGHTY TREE…roots down, down, down, unseen, untouchable.  They plunge ‘into’ the CORE of the Universe and call—“hurry, hurry—you’re so, so close.”  I’ve hung in the branches, changed by the seasons AND this TIME the story is being told to me.

I’m trying to listen—

I’ve listened to others—TRULY listened.
So often it exhausts me—this ART of truly LISTENING.

Yes, I know what the presentation I share GIVES—it’s a lure and persons want connection, community.  AS much as I feel it, I RUN to SILENCE because I am drained by the barrage of NEEDS (pastoral care/spiritual direction in daily doses).
The wanting…
The hoping…
And I cry OUT, “It’s yours.”
“IT’S IN YOU”—“BELIEVE”—why all this UNBELIEF?

Endless returns to retreats that last a few weeks—and then persons go back to their WAYS awaiting another chance for a fix.  ‘You have it inside you’…I say to myself as I walk.

The scene has changed…
Snow has blanketed the path…mud sucks my boots into the soil—my body aches—every part of me feels its ALIVENESS.

While I said I would be silent, he came upon me.  He needed to share with me his physical aches.  I listened and then STOPPED long enough to thank him for joining me.  I paused for a few moments to gather my ‘bag’ of SOLACE!  He pressed on and my entire BEING lifted into the clouds…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pack on my back carries my earthly needs…we are ONE and I call her Pilgrim Perk.  The name has endearing qualities for what it carries.  I’m going to hold this sentence as SOME things simply need not be written.

I walk alongside countless others.  I knew I was stepping in the same tracks made by hundreds, thousands of pilgrims who made THIS WAY…all for their own reasons.

I sensed those who departed this world lurking behind trees, singing in the rush of the majestic river that has run alongside me ALL day.

I know I’m NEVER alone because the very nearness of those I sat beside, as a Chaplain, are ALWAYS near.  They don’t speak audibly—still I sense their BEING.  I look up—the mix of snow and rain falling, drenching me to the bone.  Although the sky lay hidden and the night’s stars have yet to beam, I’m mindful of our brothers and sisters who lead us to a Native American Spirituality.  From their depths, they ‘see’ the stars NOT as stars, but as CAMP FIRES.  Our ancient ancestors light The Way…teach us to listen and let go when time calls.

For NOW—LOOK to Luna…don’t get caught on the finger pointing to the LIGHT—behold the Light.  As I close my eyes this very NIGHT—even with my lids closed I see, I feel, I’m embraced by a LIGHT and my ONLY prayer is one Eckhart so eloquently stated,
“THANK YOU” “THANK YOU” “THANK YOU!”

 

 

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Camino—Day 2

Camino de Santiago—Day 2

March 27th
Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Who is the man above AND why is he here in this journal?

Let me begin by saying that this morning’s WALK began with my shadow way out in front of me…

Seems my shadow might know me better or it’s walking ahead ‘checking’ out the terrain—the ONE beneath my feet and the terrain of my heart.  I’m writing my heart—words flowing in each step…I’m mindful of the man above—ERNEST HEMINGWAY.  He spent time writing in Roncesvalles (he spent time throughout Spain—writing)…tomorrow I journey to Pamplona.
Hemingway…the riding of the bulls…I don’t think I’ll ‘grab’ hold of any horns while there, BUT…with me, one never knows.  Walking along with my shadow, I reflected on Hemingway’s work, The Old Man & the Sea.  I’m not on a fishing trip here, BUT wait—perhaps, I AM.  I’ve cast myself into the wind—my line is dangling so very freely.  There are moments I ‘capture’ SOME-thing…the sound of the bells dangling from grazing sheep in the fields…from the cows as we stop and stare ONLY a moment…a field with horses grazing…the morning air painting their breath steaming from out of their nostrils…birds chirping each its own symphony—playing on simply because they can.  I hear footsteps from behind—Pilgrims… “Buen Camino” and off they go.  Every once in a while the reality of a car down below curving a bend in the road…I don’t see it but I know it’s there.  A river runs by knowing its flow and pouring itself over the edges because the thawing snow adds to the current.  I’ve captured so much in this solitary day, AND yet—I’ve captured NO-thing.  I’m fishing with a line connecting me to ALL things and at the same time possessing NOTHING.  I look at my life, and when I think something “MINE”—like the old man and the sea…he caught the BIG FISH…so big he could NOT hurl it in, I sit back and reflect.  He carried the fish alongside the boat attempting to get it back—seeking a PRIZE, but in the end what HE thought HIS was devoured.  When he ARRIVED, there was NO catch to be seen.  Would anyone BELIEVE his story?  Would anyone believe my story or care about the words that spill from this pen?  It doesn’t matter…

THIS MOMENT…I’m following my shadow…the very font of life dwelling inside me silently laughing and crying—
“I AM HERE…I AM HERE…” what matters is the BEING—being present, rushing nowhere, getting nowhere except the reality from which I came.  It was my time to be there and now I’m here in this moment THAT passed, that played itself out never again to be.

Time has become something NEW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Clock

I’ve lost my watch
AND
this is good…

The hands I NOW count on
need no circular face to wind around.

My body clock
wakes me before dawn
catching the moon and its stars in
dazzling display.

Before the rising of the sun I’m
out…the chill of the air causes me
to bow—I cup my hands in
gratitude
and LIGHT begins to RISE.

I trust in this time—
the sun pushes itself in front of
Me…I walk in its zenith
and even when the clouds appear
I know it there…NEVER diminishing
its fiery flame—such power…
enormous really.
I’m drawn to the sun’s warmth
from THIS glorious distance—
it touches me AND IF I ACTUALLY touched it—I’d be consumed.

Dusk approaches…
the hands of my body’s clock
know the world is closing its eyes…
its tired face just now over my shoulder…

It rolled over my shoulder a while ago—
somehow in all my ‘thinking’ it passed…
Sometimes life has a way of taking
ME out of these prophetic moments
AND this is good…

I wouldn’t wish to think I’ve grasped
life because when I believe I have,
I’ll have to go and buy
a watch to start all over again.

Now, my body’s clock
No longer needs the seconds
or minutes or hours to say
GOODNIGHT.

So with that…
SWEET DREAMS.

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Camino—Day 3

Camino de Santiago—Day 3

March 28th
Zubiri to Pamplona

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work.

And that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings..

                                                                                               ~Wendell Berry~

Wendell Berry’s words resonate throughout the pages of my journal…they sing in and through me.

I woke early (NOT anything NEW).  It was still dark, but in 10 minutes the sky would shed its light and I would set out in the unknown darkness—The Way just ahead.  I sang the prayer into the dampness, echoed Micah’s words, (6:8) “This is what Yahweh asks of you; only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God,” and breathed a silent thank you In and OUT.  C.G. Jung came to mind and stirred my unconsciousness—THIS was so good.  I went back in time when I was a little child in love with WORDS, but I did NOT know how to write them, YET.  My message was always a love note to my mom, and when I handed her my make believe writing on paper, she would sit looking into my eyes and let me read aloud ALL I had written.  From where did that TIMELESS memory return?

No matter…

Paging ahead…my years stretched out before me.  I wrote poems, reflections on LIFE…so many stories.  I paused countless times this day remembering them—a box of trail mix…a unique blend of so much—

Amidst great joys, there was sorrow.  A wise soul read ‘THOSE’ poems and whispered, “It’s time to LET THEM GO!”  I really don’t believe I understood the depth of those three words, BUT I watched endless pages of my story dissolve in FLAMES.  They were gone, but my STORY LIVED.

My pen sat idle for a long while until Professor Bailey, my college instructor, taught a Scripture course and shared the gift of verses.  He asked us to memorize certain verses—NOT simply to ‘give’ them or utter them to persons WHO NEEDED THEM.  No, they were for us…for us to sit with, reflect about and ponder—BUT what he asked of us most was to keep a journal (each day) and he would collect them at the end of the semester.

I accepted this invitation—not like something I had to do, but every fiber of my being wanted to write.  The exercise I embarked upon meant I had to pause—it was NOT a quick, “Oh, I’ll splash some words,”  BUT a conscious undertaking of what was stirring in my CORE— (did I truly know?)

Spirit nudged and the day to hand in our journals came—it was our FINAL…

A week passed…I took some respite from writing BUT the quiet pause, the silent meditations, the time for DOING nothing unraveled…it’s STILL unraveling.

The day to receive our journals dawned and Prof. Bailey stated he was pleased.  “There was one journal I read through entirely…I could not put it down.”  He turned to me, handed me my journal and said, “Well done.”

Tears fell from my cheeks.  I walked in THIS moment—lost in time and now re-found…

I’m trying to write each day…I have been walking the Camino three days and finding words to describe my journey is far from an effort, BUT there is so much I am experiencing in between, so much more to say and NOT say.

During this day’s walk to Pamplona, a few blisters emerged.  I punctured the one behind the toe…Yes, the nail will go, BUT I’m not one for pedicures so it will not make a difference.  My feet fit nicely into my boots.  I’m not too worried about heels—those WHO really know me understand that when I’m teaching I’d much rather be in my New Balance sneakers or cowboy boots! (Ha!Ha!)

I did leave out a cute story that took place the first day of my Camino walk.  There was a beautiful miniature horse and I wanted to click a photo.  I thought the strap of my camera was around my neck…oops!  The camera unhinged and I watched it make its way down the hill.  YES…I went after it.   It is still WORKING (for how long…oh, well)
AND, I did get a photo of the horse.

 

 

Back to Pamplona…I walked with and beside several pilgrims today…a silent gift we were for each other.  We walked—young, old, middle aged—SOME rushing, some slowly tracing their steps.

Each person has a personal reason for walking.  I’m still seeking temples…I’m seeking the temple within.  NOW, in front of me, stood the HOLY CATHEDRAL of Pamplona.  A rush of emotions filled me.  I knew I had to go “IN…” into this Cathedral which has been standing since before the 12th century.  I entered as if I were ENTERING my SOUL.

The MOTHER—EVERYWHERE—and Magdalene over her BELOVED.  His life was taken, BUT the story lives.  The pregnant witness I’m taking in is birthing itself each day in everything I see and don’t see.  The soft scent of spring flowers perfumes the air and I’m mindful tomorrow is Palm Sunday.  Perhaps, I’ll ‘see’ a little donkey—one related to the same ONE that Christ sat upon.  He was NOT seeking KINGSHIP—
if He were, do you really believe He’d have chosen an ass…?

Christ simply said, “Follow me”…and so I’m trying—

I thought my life in this world—my work DONE…AND, NOW in THIS MOMENT, my work—to write and scribble a few sketches in between—

I don’t know the path tomorrow, but I’ll journey…this present NOW.

My mind is swimming and some of life’s greatest ‘rocks’ in the pool of my journey gave me a chance to become me in this moment…

I’m sure more stones or boulders will make their way, but for NOW, I’ll keep right on singing.  Thanks, Wendell Berry.

 

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Camino—Day 4

Camino de Santiago—Day 4

March 29th (Palm Sunday)
Pamplona to Puente La Reina

 

 

The Hill of Forgiveness/Alto del Perdon

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Your being stirred me, Hemingway..
I heard the bells clanging outside my window—
“I HEARD”~~~Pamplona had its mystical moments for me as soon as I stood outside its cathedral— (that was yesterday eve).  Today—all the temples.

Atop the Hill of Forgiveness, wouldn’t you know it—I found a donkey.  He wasn’t real, but he did ‘whinny’ confirming the one who rode a mule this day—2,000 years ago…to the Holy City of Jerusalem.  It stood atop this hill.  The wind blew mightily ‘opening’ the gates to what now faced me—ME!

I’ve come to ‘forgive me’ on this little hill high up in reach of the clouds.  I had come to forgive my ‘knee’—

It gave out some years ago ‘changing’ my entire world.  My hopes, dreams, desires all thrown as if out a window.

I was a Peace Officer.  I made it through the physical rigors, written exams, polygraph tests, oral boards, interview one, Chief interview.  I became a Police Officer.  Suddenly, injury took away my life’s dream.

The knee injury I sustained took away my ability to ‘run’— I used to run…it was my prayer as well as my escape.  You can call prayer a bit of an escape, but it also let me work through ‘topsy-turvey’ life dramas…now the ability to run was taken—GONE!

For months my knee was in a permanent bend…I walked with crutches.  My mind raced and I cried, “could I ever walk again?”

These were trying times…every fiber of my being stretching, breaking, until no elastic was left.

I was adrift at sea without paddles, but I learned, re-learned to use my hands.  Now I was sketching portraits of persons.  Unbeknownst to me, at first, they became ‘images’ of people from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.  Their faces emerged on my blank canvas.  I sketched many faces of men and women who exemplified persons to me in this life…a new understanding, or an old understanding found a NEW way to be born.

This was Sandy—artist, writer…creator…sharer of story—AND I learned to walk.  I had to retire because of my injury, but the time of rehabilitation allowed me moments of grace.  I had to face me and say, “No—not anymore…this is WHO I AM.”  I walk NOW in gratitude for this knee which carefully guards me, and it, with each descent and every ascending curve.

My knee speaks—“slow down, stop, look out a while” and my being honors the message.  I never was ‘angry’ with the knee—I simply wanted/continue to want to play and the knee responds, “Don’t you ever stop…together we’ll always find a way.”

Many persons who traverse this Camino walk with injuries, serious diagnosis, grief and an abundance of ‘things’ weighted on their backs.  Each day I walk becomes a little easier to make because I am able to forgive.

I have little with me.  Yet, it is ALL I need.  I’m mindful of all I do own and I shudder asking myself, “What for?”  The ONLY ‘gift’ I want most in  my pack is LOVE.  I’m mindful of those back home ‘walking’ with me in spirit.  I’m astonished and bathed in my own tears of being.  I wish I were able to tell each person how he/she appeared in my mind when I looked out at something
OR SOME-THING
as it showed up in that moment AND…

AND there SHE was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I knew it was she…a statue hidden in trees.  I slowed down…I’m not certain why, but when I reached Her, I sat down.  Her words to my heart…”You child, have beheld my Son…NOW, I behold you, my daughter.  Go, bring love into the world.  Care no longer what others think, feel or say because you embrace a feminine face of God.  You embrace God in all things for God LIVES in you…Be NOT Afraid.”

The remainder of my walk put me outside/in front of one temple after another.

I stood facing each structure and whispered, “I’m a temple, too” …and as I passed each church, the bells rang.

There was only one church whose bell did not ring out, BUT the tiniest dog appeared as if out of nowhere, ‘barking’ in delight.  When I finally arrived in Puente La Reina, I stepped into the church countless centuries old.  ‘Inner’ stirrings began again and I was mindful of Hildegarde, Jullian, Mechtild…Holy Women who KNEW God.  These women lived the message through their lives amidst grave injustices…still they LOVED.  This day—I give thanks for those women and today’s women (EVERY WOMAN) who finds the courage to be who she is meant to be in the world, cutting all the cords binding her by contrived, manipulative tools holding women in ‘A PLACE.’  Our place is in all things beside our brothers, and this day as I write my last words and begin to sketch PUENTE LA REINA—renamed the Queen’s bridge—Dona Mayor commanded the Romanesque bridge be built to support safe movement for medieval pilgrims,

I am humbled by those pilgrims—
They walked with NOTHING!

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Camino — Day 5

Camino de Santiago— Day 5

March 30th (Easter Week)
PUENTE LA REINA to ESTELLA

Estella is Spanish for STAR.  AS I set out this morning walking under the stars, I walked into a fellow pilgrim who lost his direction.  We walked ‘together,’ and yet solitary, under a night sky soon meeting the dawn.

We, the pilgrim and I, looked out at the land which stretched on and on like a rolling carpet…at the rush of the river, we heard the pregnant silence, and took in the scent of spring in the air—fresh wild flowers, tilled earth, fertile fields, olive trees…

 

I’m so mindful of this Monday.  I feel as if I’m in Bethany…the place where THAT woman would rub ‘spikenard’ on the feet of the One whom she LOVED.  (What a sacrament)  She believed EVERYTHING He said and it was she who began the preparations.  I was lost in this moment as if I could smell the sweet perfumes in the air, AND then I began to sing aloud…

“To dream, the impossible dream, to…this is my quest; this is my star…To dream the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.”

Yes, I was taken in by Don Quixote—the gallant knight who would bravely go to defend the honor of his Dulcinea—he, and only he, saw ‘Heaven’ in her eyes.  At first she thought him mad, (perhaps he was a tad), but he would not allow her to see herself as anything BUT beautiful.  No one ever told her that, but certainly enough men had their way with her.  She wondered in her mind what he was really after—LOVE.

Is this a story so different from the one we listen to this week?  The message we hear is the transformative gift of love.  It ALWAYS comes with a price… (Not a monetary one).

I’ve walked with some young people whose dream is to study in America—their parents gifted them this CAMINO before they were to begin ‘THEIR SCHOOLING.’  They did not choose a Caribbean Cruise or a visit to Disney World.  They chose to walk…their reasons—“DREAMS.”  I listen to them speak and marvel at their JOY…at their attempts to embrace ‘quiet.’  Each stops to ‘look’ upon…into churches…YES, THOSE dwelling places—

Again and again I am taken in by the structures of the churches, the architecture, the talent of the builders, behind the ARTISTIC expressions NEVER to be duplicated, AND all I see speaks to me…SHOUTS to me—

“As are YOU, as are YOU, as are YOU and you and you—”

We are all temples of Divine Mystery.  We are LOVE and THIS week my soul feels this GOOD NEWS, but I experience a certain melancholy because today there is so much noise.  As I write, a machine began operating outside my hostel window, BUT I can HEAR the church bell toll…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pray the church bell never stops ringing in my ear.  That bell has many ways of clanging…a chirping bird, a horse’s whinny, the rush of wind, and yes, the sound of the machine…

I hope false ‘gadgets’ don’t take away the reality that angels do walk with us.  It is so easy to miss them when what we seek is ANYTHING but love.

I’ll NEVER stop DREAMING the IMPOSSIBLE…

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Camino—Day 6

Camino de Santiago—Day 6

March 31st
ESTELLA to LOS ARCOS

 

How do I begin to pen what has MOVED me when so much within me is STILL MOVIN’?

I walked in so much BLISS today.  I stopped, gazed upon the rising sun enveloping the landscape as tears rolled down my cheeks drenching the soils beneath my boots.  “Thank you God for this Life!”  So many persons came into ‘focus.’  I clicked snapshots and became ever mindful of a teacher in my life, Jan Phillips.  I took my first ‘real’ photography workshop with Jan AND since then I’ve not stopped SHOOTING!  I gave thanks for her with every ‘image’ that came before me…that whispered, “NOW, click NOW.”  I’m mindful of ‘all’ the women Jan has ‘brought’ together.  Many of those ‘sisters’ remain etched in the fabric of my life…
(MOST especially the women from the International Women’s Writer’s Guild)

Jan’s life is “loving kindness” AND it was she who told me things about myself that I heard before, yet didn’t believe.  Now I do…

“Because the One I love lives inside you I lean as close to you as I can…”

Yes, that refrain remained with me as I walked…silently I hummed, and hummed, and hummed.  I’m amazed at how my legs have strengthened…my blistered feet callousing over letting me know that we’re going to do this, Sandy.

I don’t know a single pilgrim without BLISTERS…needles & thread are sold out, tape is a priceless commodity.  Blister bandages are worth more than gold.

I laugh to myself when I think of the pilgrims who traversed this land—NO way markers, NO REI Backpacks, NO Merrell boots, NO walking poles, NO ‘food’ stops to purchase a pilgrim’s lunch or a hot coffee.  These early pilgrims did NOT have dry-fit clothes, sunscreen, rain gear—AND they walked…not to punish themselves, but as a journey of forgiveness (and THIS could be understood in many forms).

I reached Los Arcos in the afternoon…there was some on-going construction so MARKERS to the center were a bit skewed.  Out she came…the most beautiful “Crone,” bending to pick some fresh lavender.  Her hair was soft as snow, and as she rose, she looked into my eyes and said, “Buen Camino.”  SHE walked with me enough of the way to get me to the path.

I walked to the church.  The doors were locked so I went beyond the arch to capture a photo.  An older gent greeted me with “Buen Camino” and I inquired as to the time the church doors open.  He spoke no English and my Spanish was ‘poco’, BUT we understood each other. ‘Cinco” he responded.  He put his hands together in prayer…gently took my shoulders in his hands…kissed my left cheek and then my right.  What could I say but MUCHAS GRACIAS.

I walked back through the arch and noticed a little man coming out of the church.  I addressed him, “Sir,” just before he locked the door.  “Come, come in for a momento.”  He said he’d be back.  I ENTERED and ‘the BEAUTY caught my breath.’  I heard, ‘it is the same BEAUTY that is inside you…’ and the bells began to toll.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did not ask the three individuals whom I met if I might take their photo…I WISHED to hold the images of these persons in my MIND’S eye as Eckhart’s words spilled over my OPENED soul… “May your eyes be the eyes through which God sees YOU!”  I’m seeing God EVERYWHERE and the most majestic temples that have held my breath ARE the natural landscapes…no doors, no windows, NEVER locked—always there even for the eye that forgets to STOP to see!

The sun was vibrant today.  I sat in the square and ordered my first coke and a pizza with pepperoni…yes, I did.  I ate the WHOLE thing and licked my fingers.  No, I did not forget my manners—well, perhaps I did for a moment.

Some know—if ever this be read…I’m NOT to eat the food I devoured.  A long story.  In 2005, I was diagnosed with Systemic Mastocytosis.  What in God’s name is that?  That was my response when the diagnosis was presented to me.  So many serious turning points at/in that moment in my life.

While my faith has always been my guide & strength, stressors were ‘beating’ me.  I found my way or a way found me to Dr. Mariana Castells (Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA) and to a society tirelessly, supportively, compassionately working on a cure for this dis-ease.
I’ve overcome countless hurdles under her care.  Presently I’m in a benign stage ever aware to care for body and soul…AND, I’m living gratefully.  I might have a mast cell incident later, a few extra red speckles under the skin—BUT, the pizza was worth it—mmm-GOOD!

I could wait no longer to walk this Camino.  I came upon some impasses that attempted to ‘block’ this pilgrimage, but there are ‘special’ people who helped make this journey possible for me.  I AM supposed to be here in this moment because there will NEVER be another moment like this—the rest of my days.  NEVER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camino—Day 7

Camino de Santiago—Day 7

April 1st
LOS ARCOS to LOGRONO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A walking stick…it has become for me MORE than JUST a stick, (I’ve named her STICKEY—creative, huh?), but she likes it.  She has a cord near her top.  She prefers I loop my hand through it so we seem connected TWICE.  My grip is firm, yet gentle.  AT different moments I feel as If I’m choking her especially up those steep ascents, stony pathways.  It is then SHE rises to the occasion all the more.  I dropped her once…maybe deliberately wondering if when she touched the ground she’d turn into a snake.  SHE didn’t and I was most grateful.  We have a WAY to go…don’t know what I’d do if she slithered away. (Ha!Ha!)

This stick ‘picked’ me back in St Jean…I picked it up putting it back down and she leaned ‘into’ me.  It has been my constant companion…a piece of wood—it carries me.

My thoughts were so MEANING-filled today.  I pondered the ‘day’—WEDNESDAY of Holy Week.  I was in deep thought about Christ, the man, who knew what lay before Him.  Tomorrow He would share the PASSOVER with his friends and a room was needed.

I re-called a room where two years earlier I gathered with 28 other pilgrim brothers & sisters…our final night together after having WALKED the Camino Mary Magdalene (The Sacred Feminine).

James Twyman (Peace Troubadour) sent an invitation to journey with Benedicte Meyer (guide) who would journey with us to MYSTICAL dwelling places, holy caves, temples and secret landscapes others would prefer not be known so as NOT to create “SHRINES” for thousands who would come to WORSHIP.  Christ said simply, “Follow me.”  What has happened to that message?

Today I remembered each individual on that pilgrimage.  MANY have become a part of the very fabric of my life!  My soul brother James is ‘singing’ into the world A Course in Miracles.  I’m not hearing him in these moments, BUT I am ‘seeing’ the Cosmic Miracle of Christ—ALIVE all around me, beside me, within me.  My soul sister Benedicte told me I had to go this ‘path’ alone.  Sometimes I think I can see her running along the rocks, skipping in fields of flowers…
I WANT to name each of you, but I only have so much paper on which to write. (Ha!Ha!)  I see you, and feel the essence of our ‘communion’—I AM because you are.

Most of us were intimate strangers NOT seeing what was to be.  It was that Camino that gave me the courage to set out on the Divine Masculine Camino (The Way of St James) and my being is wedded to the joy found along the trail of Mary Magdalene and NOW of St James.

The moon, Luna, has set Her face in the sky while it is still light…in a few days she will be FULL.  Already I feel the energy and whisper—most especially to my Camino Family, “I LOVE YOU all to the Moon and back.”

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Camino—Day 8

Camino —Day 8

April 2nd (Holy Thursday)
LOGRONO  to NAJERA

“…THERE IS NO WAY TO HAPPINESS—happyness is THE WAY!”
(pg 104/ A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)

This morning I set out under the stars—the eve before this day I was wakened from a sound sleep to DRUMMING.  I rushed to the window and looked down into the streets below…a procession was under way.  A large number of men CARRIED the Sorrowful Mother who was adorned by flowers while drums were beaten by others who were draped in costume.  I could smell the sweet incense rise.  Behind the MOTHER, two men carried the cross.  Singing heralded the festivities and the music lulled me to sleep…

I was joined this morning by a few pilgrims.  Suddenly, we were interrupted by a young man who insisted that we were OFF the Way.  I pointed to the arrows, but he continued to insist.  A police car came up the roadway and I waved the officers down…they assured us that we were FOLLOWING the WAY!

I whispered a blessing for the young man—whatever his intent…I’m trusting an ‘inner’ way—

The sun rose from its easel painting scenes I’ve NEVER experienced (again, it is a first time for me—or is it?)  A pristine body of water lay before me.  Young boys were casting their reels—OFF from school because it is HOLY THURSDAY…little fisher men.  When they were out of sight, the path took a curve around the LAKE and there…a family of SWANS.  A tear formed and then another—I WAS SO HAPPY.  After my grandmother (affectionately called Nanny) died, the swan became her messenger to me.  How fitting—on Holy Thursdays I would visit 7 churches with her (tradition).  She was NOT a learned woman, but she exuded KINDNESS to me.  She always let me be a child growing up…I didn’t always have to be responsible.  I walked with her to church EVERY Sunday…I couldn’t wait until she gave me my quarter to go and light a candle.  She NEVER demanded that I be anyone but who I was.  Church attendance was NOT a weekly solitary EVENT.  Nanny began each morning in prayer—on her knees…she did the same before she tucked herself in at night.  I was mindful of her ‘gazing’ out the window.  She was somewhere else and often I’d say to myself, “I WANT TO GO THERE!”  When I sat beside her in church, she’d look at me and say, “We are here for ONLY ONE reason—the ONE who has RISEN.”  I thought I understood, but what did I know?

Today, WALKING, everything is RISING—including me.  THIS IS THE CHRIST message dwelling in my holy temple.

I felt Nanny’s smile in the dainty yellow flowers.  Before her time in this world came to an end, she was unable to speak because of a stroke.  I would lay my head on her belly, her fingers in my hair… (I felt them again as the wind blew).  I raised my head looking into her eyes and she folded her hands in prayer—this uneducated woman…A Theologian who ALWAYS believed.  She needed no SAVING.  GRACE was sufficient in her living and her dying.  “What ‘sweeter communion’ could feed me this day?”

 

Songs began to flood my mind—“Joy is like the Rain” and the one of young Mary going off to her cousin Elizabeth, the one who also held a child in her ANCIENT WOMB.  Yes, MT Winter, a professor at Hartford Seminary, my mentor, was instrumental in cultivating the feminine in the ‘body’ of so many of us (sisters) in the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI).  These women are in my mind and in my heart as I walk the Camino and I sense their “being” with me.

Today I recalled MT’s book Eucharist with a small “e”…fitting this day as I walked into church and as I sat for some moments THINKING about that “PASSOVER” meal—living it in a NEW way after MT put flesh on it for me as she does in so many instances in my life (without even realizing).

I felt myself in that room with Christ and His friends who gathered with Him.  When He says “THIS IS MY BODY,” He meant everyone in front of Him…He meant ME and YOU!  We are the LIVING body of Christ and EVERY TIME we eat it, it is a banquet of LOVE.  Often I forget that what I consume becomes a part of me and I a part of it—the connections are ETERNAL.

How , how can I NOT be HAPPY…?

“I am the joy in your tomorrow; when all is lost you still remain…”
(Deep gratitude MT—and all you Ladies who are and have been part of WLI)

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Camino—Day 9

Camino—Day 9

April 3rd (Good Friday)
NAJERA to SANTO DOMINGO de la CALZADA

It was a GOOD Friday morning—I set off missing a “Way” marker and had to back track.  At just the right moment with the sun NOT having yet broken the horizon’s line—I looked back and noticed two pillars in the sky…one to the right, the other to the left—they were RAINBOWS.  In between the center, lay the COSMIC MYSTERY (at least for me).

 

This day, this Friday remembered, celebrated by Christians around the world…for me what HAPPENED was likened to the same mystery beheld.

Heaven and Earth, Two Thieves on a cross…in that solemn moment CHRIST brought Heaven and Earth together.  Note—when Heaven and Earth were separated it was not whispered as GOOD—NOW each day so good because there is no LONGER any division, no dualities—ALL IS ONE~~~ (Genesis Note).

My tears are joining this resurrection day.  The landscape stretched beyond my sight line, and I see the snow covered mountains in the distance.  I’m pondering much AND meditating on Richard Rohr’s explanation of the three temptations that Christ faced after being baptized by John, then going off into the desert and JUST before beginning His public ministry.  Time and again I have tried to live the message—AND I’m still trying…

Christ’s first temptation…having fasted 40 days, Christ was hungry and the Tempter knew this—so insisted, “Turn these stones into bread.”  Jesus gives up SUCCESS.  Go away Tempter…

The Tempter knows the Scriptures (So many do, or think they do—and wound more hearts than they spread LOVE).  The Tempter says, “Throw yourself down…you won’t dash your foot.”  Jesus gives up the need to be RIGHT.  How often in dialogues…to get in the last word, bantering continues.  AGAIN, Jesus says, “Go away Tempter.”

The tempter, losing patience, but ALWAYS persistent, takes Jesus to a lofty Place.  “All this can be YOURS…only bow to me.”  Jesus gives over POWER and the Tempter goes away…for a while.

I’m so taken by the words ‘A WHILE.”  I am peace-filled at present.  I have so little except what I carry and even this is MORE than I need.  It is a long way BEFORE I return HOME, but I know SOME-THING will come quickly trying to take away this PEACE…

For now…I hold the RAINBOWS and WALK into an ETERNAL CENTER.

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Camino—Day 10

Camino—Day 10

April 4th (Holy Saturday)
SANTO DOMINGO de la CALZADA to BELORADO

 “…Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water, clean floor.  After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water, clean floor…”
(pg 120/ A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)

Clouds and a soft rain blanketed this Saturday.  I recalled a story by Diarmuid O’Murchu at an Easter Triduum Retreat I attended several years ago—

A little girl sat in a classroom filled with many young children.  The teacher decided to question the children…she asked if they knew the significance of each of the final days before Easter.  “What happened on Holy Thursday?”  All the children raised their hands explaining what took place on Holy Thursday…all except for one little girl at the back of the classroom.  The teacher was overjoyed by the children’s excitement, but made a mental note of the little girl’s lack of response.  “Well, what happened on GOOD Friday?”  There was a pause—BUT then bodies leaped from their desks except the little girl in the back of the room.  Now, the teacher was concerned and could not concentrate.  Before thinking, she asked “What happened on Saturday?”  Now, she herself, was not certain.  Not a hand rose, BUT in the back row the little girl raised her hand.  The teacher, mystified, paused and said to the child, “Your know what happened on Saturday?”  She nodded her head and responded— “That is when Jesus descended into hell and went to get his good friend Judas!”

There was NOT a dry eye among the retreatants.  Today, as I recalled this story, my eyes were not dry.  Suddenly from behind, I was joined by a young man who walked beside me yesterday for part of the path.

He taught me two Spanish words:
1. ULTREIA…meaning WALK and 2. SUSEIA…meaning ‘up’…one pilgrim wishes the first word to the other and the other pilgrim responds SUSEIA.

He knew enough English that for some time we broke open parts of ‘our’ stories—
Then we began singing, “It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart…without saying a word you light up the dark…you say it BEST when you say NOTHING at all.”
We both began to laugh and then walked along quietly.

My path came to an end for the day, but he was going on.  He was 28 years old…lost his father two years ago.  He stopped…removed his Camino shell from his pack, and handed it to me.  He found one with an eagle painted on the inside.  He gave me his shell…the one he carried for his dad AND he found a new one today.

I accepted the gift and said, “ULTREIA“—he smiled and said, “SUSEIA“—we embraced and went our WAY…truly a Soul Brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND…with that I was mindful of a dynamic bond of women I’ve come to call ‘Soul Sisters.’

My first ‘gathering’ with these women took place at Mercy Center…Madison, CT.
Edwina Gateley celebrated this retreat.  I attended several more programs she facilitated.  The unique part was that I re-gathered with women from previous retreats led by E. Gateley.  One retreat, in  particular, again at Madison (my true Baptismal Place), connected me to a special Sister, my kayak pal.  She offered me the use of her kayak.  Out of the clear blue she simply said, “Go for it.”  That was all I needed—I rose early, the sun still finding its way.  I sat in the kayak, it held me like a womb, and I pushed off.  Out I went, paddling with all my might, further and further from shore,  I finally STOPPED…I cried out, “I AM HERE—where are YOU?”  Silently, the little kayak began rocking back and forth, back and forth and SHE sprayed me with a mist of sea water and seemed to say, “I’ve waited for you my child—I’ve been waiting all ALONG.”  I saw before me a feminine face and my heart strings tugged and pulled and said, “Don’t GO.  Don’t make me go back.”  I did not understand what happened.  All I thought I understood began to CHANGE…my life NEVER could go back…and still it WAS the same.

Many of the women I met were changed by this Feminine FACE and , I believe, our bond was/is the face of God that we see in one another.

I inherited a unique name from these, my Soul Sisters…it was/is affectionately ‘The Plumber.’  A group of us decided that every Monday at 9 a.m.—wherever we were, whatever we were doing we would pause MINDFUL of our connection and breathe a prayer into the Universe.  I decided to post a thought or poem on those Mondays—to be used or not used.  I could NEVER foresee what has unfolded.  Gradually, I extended the Monday messages to the Soul Brothers in my life AND others looking for ‘COMMUNITY.’  I was encouraged to place my reflections and photography into the weekly missives which I post on THURSDAYS.  Reaching out to others has moved my life.  The number of recipients has expanded, and others are playing it forward.  The blessings I receive are endless.  What others share with me, and not share, has become a spring of life flowing waters.  At the end of each week, I collect NO check.  But the payment I receive—NO treasure chest could hold—

In gratitude for you, Soul Sisters & Brothers.

The MOST fitting words tucked in my journal this day:

“The planet does not need more successful people.  The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”

                                                                                                                    ~Dalai Lama

*Remembering a Soul Sister taken too soon from this world…Carmelyn Hevey*

 

 

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Camino—Day 11

Camino—Day 11

April 5th (Easter Day)
BELORADO to ATAPUERCA

 

“Will we have served our purpose for this incarnation?  It takes so many thousand years to wake, but will we wake for pity’s sake.”
(pg 120/ A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)

This morning I set out ‘mindful’ of the long stretch ahead…the journey reminded me of the road to Emmaus.  I walked in the deep solace of SILENCE—the chill in the air brushed my face and the wind picked up its face (we gazed at one another) as ‘we’ began to ascend the mountains.  I say ‘we’ because three IMPORTANT women were with me this day—my mom, my friend Helen (affectionately called Peanut), and Alberta (her endearing name, Nunny—my greatest teacher, kindred soul and friend).

I walked with my mom.  I am her youngest…her baby.  I stayed close to her as I was growing up…we were ‘companions.’  I have two older siblings—a sister and a brother.  It seemed that I had two sets of parents as I grew…I mean this in the most loving sense.  MY sister, seven years older, ALWAYS had a HEART— bigger than an ocean.  She wanted to give ‘good’ things and she loved me for who I was.  My mom has a deep affection for her first born—it’s a bond I cannot explain, but have come to admire.  My sister and I could not be ANY more different…she is the epitome of a girly-girl while I’m the extreme tom boy—still am…boots, mud, sneakers—the WILD.  Surprised I’m walking THIS Camino?  NOT A DOUBT.

My brother…if my mom’s father ever got to ‘see’ his grandson, he would never have given him back to my mother and father.  My brother was my guide in my growing-up years.  He looked after me, talked to me about life and the road ahead…temptations that would enter my path.  When he left for the service (Navy), my heart broke.  No one ever left our family.  I MISSED him.

My mom’s three children are her prized possession.  If she could keep us with her, she would, BUT she’s ‘stretched’ through the years.  We are still HERS, but she shares (ha!-ha!) SOMETIMES!

My dad and she just could not make things work—they tried, but their lives lived separately seemed to work for the best in later years.  My mom is a care-giver…even if you don’t need care—she’ll HELP you.  She cannot STOP offering what is hers.  There was a time in our relationship that we ‘parted.’  We both needed to grow apart in order to find our way back—AND we have…I know she is present daily.  We all have our own ‘MOTHER’ stories.  As an adult, I realize how richly blessed I am by my Mother’s love.

 

 

I  journeyed with Peanut (Helen)…Alberta’s mom.  Peanut and I connected more than 30 years ago during this exact time (The Easter Season).  We had ‘some-thing’ special immediately and I also shared this bond with her life’s LOVE—Mikey.  They welcomed me into their lives—taking me in while I studied in college and in the seminary.  Oh, the stories—ENDLESS!  So many joys…memories that have made me who I am today.

Mikey has moved on from this world and Peanut is 96.  Talk about an amazing woman.  When her LOVE died, her world collapsed.  Grief can be a STINGER that NO TIME can heal.  Her spirit and faith go on…I’ve never seen such resilience.  I’ve watched as the years have taken so much from her and still she prays—“Just for today God, just for today—it’s all I ask.”

I watched and admire her as she gave up driving, her home, as she transferred to an Assisted Living facility where everyone LOVES her.  She’d fallen far too many times—the walker was given up and a wheel chair replaced her mode of transportation.  She found ways to make her rounds…to roam…to visit and help others less able than she.  In her mind, she is INDEPENDENT.  To watch her raise ‘her’ temple from that wheel chair is a feat beyond words.  She’s stronger than anyone I’ve ever known, AND she has a heart bigger than I can describe (I’m blessed that she has shared some of her heart’s most intimate treasures with me).  She is ready to move on from this world.  When her number is called, she will REMAIN in my heart…a place ONLY she/Peanut will fill.
(While I was on the Camino…she was on the Camino with me every step of the way.  Peanut listened to Alberta explain where I was each day.  The day I returned HOME—I spoke with Peanut three times—each time she was delighted to hear my voice as if hearing it a first time in a long while.  Her gentle words—“YOU’RE HOME, NOW NUNNY IS NOT ALONE—” a mother’s heart for her child—so, so endearing!  That night Peanut was hospitalized and we almost lost her.  She’ll NEVER return to the Assisted Living—she’s preparing for her Eternal Camino…again with ageless GRACE).

 

 

 

I  traverse the terrain with Peanut’s daughter, Alberta…Nunny—

I met her when I was a student in college…attempted to avoid her course at all costs.  Rumor had it that SHE WAS TOUGH.  I do like a challenge…in my final semester I registered for a seminar she taught, HEMINGWAY, FAULKNER & FITZGERALD.  Needless to say, I was lassoed into an amazing world of writers.  It was also a time in my life when I was fed up with religion…I saw too much AND I stole away by myself with God…this was GOOD!

One day, because of some life altering circumstances, I took to the chapel…ALWAYS a place of refuge for me.  BEFORE I knew it, I was not ALONE.  A hand was on my shoulder and I heard the gentle words, “About time you prayed, MATTUCCI.”  Nunny & I bonded that moment.  I did have to ‘test’ the waters a bit—so we went out for a bite to eat on a Friday in Lent.  I purposely ordered a ham submarine.  Nunny did not bat an eye.  We laugh about it to this day.  She was/is so many things for countless young people—especially me.  She SAW in me SOMEONE who had SOMETHING to offer life.

‘Our’ story is a collection of endless chapters—each day another page is written and often more than one.  We are community to & for each other AND love inviting others into our ‘holy dwelling’ place.

It is because of Nunny, that I AM here NOW—at this MOMENT.  It has been ALMOST two years that I have cared for her after she experienced a series of falls.  She is NOT a complainer…takes after her mom—women with strong constitutions, BUT one fall too many and she was NOT able to walk.

The first surgery led to rehab, but gains were NOT happening…a knee replacement was scheduled.  Nunny, being a  cancer survivor, thought this would be a WALK in the park—it has taken a long time for her to get to the park.  Many a day, her spirit adrift, her exercises slowed, but she did them.  Through ALL these personal challenges, she continues to love and care for her mom—even from 700 miles away.  Her devotion and love for Peanut is like an ocean that has no shore.  She made a promise to her dad—AND she continues to fill it even at a great price.  Yes, Alberta is my greatest teacher.  She is honest and wise; she is truthful and follows her instinct even when others would disapprove because of her unwillingness to go along with ‘unjust’ maneuvers…(Before her father died he asked us both for forgiveness—he knew).

She bears this weight amidst EVERYTHING else she carries, AND she NEVER stops LOVING.  Even when sharp remarks are made, she does not waver.  I have held the tears…tears I sprinkle along this path….because she, so like the mother bird, again & again pushes me from the nest and says, “Go fly—return with stories of your adventurers…I’ll be right here WAITING…”

I’m not naive…one day her chair will be empty.  Many persons don’t like to talk about death.  Imagine—we’re and Easter people afraid to speak of death—ALLELUIA…

I’m so NOT alone on this path—this overall  path called LIFE.  If death opened its door to me tomorrow, I would miss so many of my soul sisters and brothers, BUT my life…ONE incredible STORY.

Thank you Mother, Peanut , and Nunny.  Today you have RISEN, indeed, AND it is I who am no longer the same for your PRESENCE…I love you!

 

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Camino—Day 12

Camino—Day 12

April 6th
ATAPUERCA to BURGOS

“In a gentle way, you can shake the wor(l)d.”   Gandhi

So…What Now?

The ‘space’ was EMPTY
only the coverings remained.

So…what NOW?
what could this possibly mean?

The last several days
played over and over in my mind
like a bad dream—
I wish I could wake and it would
ALL be as it was…

But He said—
He said so MANY things.
I set aside EVERYTHING
to follow Him.

His messages, stories so simple—
those who you’d think would not get it
‘GOT IT’ and when we were alone—
Together, HE explained ‘THE MEANING’
behind words…some-TIMES I got it.

Right at this moment
NO-thing makes sense…
Hiding is the ONLY safe thing to do.

I followed Him—
NOW He’s gone…what NOW?

I’m no longer the SAME
And still I AM who I am…

He showed me how simple truth can be—
how easy to love without the expectations
of a return…

I’ll try to live this WAY…
it will NOT be easy—
the world, many of its people won’t
understand—
The world, ‘creation’ gets it…look how
simply it moves with the seasons
AND Lives…

I ‘see’ HIM…He’s NOT GONE

He is in ALL

So…what NOW?
I’ll keep walking alongside Him.

 

 

These words flowed from my heart.  I walked this morning—a painted orange hue landscape behind my back…in front of me the light of the moon casting silhouettes along the country side.  A flock of sheep—undisturbed…a few ‘clangs’—the little bell dangling from their necks.  It was as if the service began.  I  AM in ‘c’hurch with a small ‘c.’  The fragrance of spring flowers opening—sweet incense to my nostrils!  I climbed a stony path…it seemed to go on forever.  ‘Stickey,’ ever faithful, and Pilgrim Perk holding up her end.  I looked up at this moment to find a single cross at the top of a hill.  It did NOT speak of VIOLENCE…it spoke of an END to HATRED & WAR and it stood—LOVE being its ONLY message.

Last night while dining, I met a mother & daughter (she might have been eleven).  We had passed each other along the way these past few days—glances exchanged, a simple understanding…’we’ are walking…

THIS eve the mother spoke.  She would take a bus to Leon as the road was a bit too long for her little girl…not the physical demands, but the mental fortitude one needs to walk the Camino.  The mother spoke…”Today, when we reached ATAPUERCA (the place where the earliest human remains were discovered in Europe dating back over 900,000 yrs.), we danced.”  The expression on the child’s face ‘glowed’—THE MOTHER…holy is she.

How can one not DANCE?
I hope your feet are moving—

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Camino—Day 14

Camino—Day 14

April 8th
BURGOS to HORNILLOS del CAMINO

Outside the Church Doors

Outside the doors of the
Cathedral…there she sat.

The stony pavement beneath her—
cold and damp.

She held a small basket
in her hand…
She spoke not a word
and barely raised her head.

I dropped a coin
into her basket…
I just happened to have one
within reach…

A soft voice spoke, “Gracias”…
Something ‘inside’ me barely could
look her in the eye…

Who really was the pilgrim here?
Who of us knew the meaning of
the word humility?

I’ve NEVER sat ‘hoping’ my cup would
get filled…
she sat for an entire day trusting
that enough persons would come along so that
she’d receive just enough to feed
her family.

Does she have family?
I don’t know…

The ‘mammoth’ Cathedral NOW before me—
Inside a treasure chest of silver
and gold…
BUT, no bread to break.

Christ tipped the tables—
He’d begin by feeding this woman.

That woman is ‘the temple’ where the
Divine does dwell—

She’s adorned in what is probably
her only wear

AND, she “GIVES THANKS.”

I softly hear above, the NOISE of
the clanging bells…

This is MY Body…’
Outside the Church Doors.

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Camino—Day 15

Camino de Santiago—Day 15

April 9th
HORNILLOS del CAMINO to CASTROJERIZ

Please Don’t Judge

A pilgrim walked ahead of me…
carrying some ‘weight.’

She was a distance away,
but I noticed something different
in her ‘gait.’

I was getting nearer
to the pilgrim
AND it became rapidly
apparent SHE was a
double amputee…

Both limbs removed
above the knee
and trusting ‘prosthetics’ in place—

I’ve expressed this TWICE…
WHY?
Because I need to.

She takes great risks…
blisters upon her stumps
could become grave situations—

STILL, she walks..
Please don’t judge—
I don’t know her story
but something ‘inside’ her

‘pulls’ her.

You might ask, “what is she trying to prove?”

She’s NOT trying to PROVE anything to YOU!
No camera crews are following her—
she wishes NOT to be known…

SHE wants to WALK the WAY—
The Camino de Santiago.

I pass her by—
we share a glance…no words necessary.
She smiles—
I press on beginning to cry.

An ‘injury’ sustained in 2003
‘CHANGED MY WORLD’
At the time…
I did NOT realize just how much
‘FOR THE BETTER!”

Yet…
Some who knew my path said,
“Do you think this is a good idea?
AND, you’re going ALONE…what if?”

I’ve come to know LIFE is filled with
what ifs and I cannot help but
Say WHY NOT—

“If” there is an occurrence along the
WAY…YOU face the fact—
make a decision or you can sit—
wondering for the rest of you life.
(AND, you don’t know HOW long the rest of your
life may be)

So for now—
Please don’t judge.

Go ‘your’ way and I hope no one
Or no-thing is LIMITING your
Passion to LIVE.

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Camino—Day 16

Camino de Santiago—Day 16

April 10th
CASTROJERIZ to FROMISTA

“…I am reminded how much my own life has been squandered in posturing.  The presence that comes from making something LOOK RIGHT on the surface, while ignoring the underlying lack of integrity and the feeling of discontent that follows.  Tamed person (man/woman) addicted to the approval of family & friends masking the wild person (man/woman) desperate for the freedom that comes with AUTHENTIC living while painting a larger canvas…”
(pg 148/ A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)

For the past several days now I have walked the landscape called the MESETA—the peace & quiet of crop fields.  As I journeyed through this region, I have been especially mindful of the Parable of the Sower (and of my dear kindred Soul, Grace, who walks with me).

In many ways the parable I’m recalling, plays itself out in reverse of how it is shared.  It is the springtime of the year—so much is beginning to bud with NEW life.  There has been so much greenery and the wheat fields are FULL—they grow on the better soil.

I press forward and come to rough, stony earth, my feet feeling every bit of the broken terrain as does my spirit.  A strong will transcends my being—pushing me, driving me, as the BLISTERS create NEW soles.

The parable of the sower ‘sinks’ deeply into me—scenes of my life reveal my walking ‘in’ each terrain AND each terrain a part of the journey…my life.  I’m always growing and then there are the moments when NOTHING seems to be happening yet, in reality, EVERYTHING is happening…I’m simply NOT ripened to SEE.

My bruised feet, broken, leaking—healing themselves each day.

THIS Temple, in HARMONY with the soils I walk, brings me HERE to Fromista and the Church of Saint Martin.  Three hundred nine figures can be seen within these stone walls—various images of vegetables, geometric shapes, animals and monstrous human representations.  They contain stories, fables, endowed with meaning, and yet, lost in our contemporary culture.

Parts of the elements contained within the figures represent stories from Scripture leading to Christian doctrine.  Motifs were used to speak to the people who understood what we would call pagan expressions.  Still, it was through STORY…connection to the Universal MYSTERY…that I stand here NOW believing in what cannot be transmitted in words, but through every breath I take I am a part of CHRIST’S unending liturgy of Life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camino—Day 17

Camino—Day 17

April 11th
FROMISTA to CARRION de LOS CONDES

The Sun became a Candle

This morning
the service began with the ‘lighting’ of a candle.

I walked towards the west—
the sky a deep jasmine blue
awaiting the night’s descent.

The soles of my feet moved with
the revolving of the Earth—
for a moment I knew ‘we’ were spinning.

Every step forward
brought the flame behind me
higher and higher.

The sky was a kaleidoscope of
pastel colors.
If you ‘blinked,’ what was before
your eyes—NOW gone.
And, an astonishing array of hues
melted together into ONENESS
as if someone ignited a box of Crayolas.

The choir of sparrows began their
chirping and the crows piped in.

The warmth of the flame
caressed the morning’s dew
as soft patches of fog clung to their final vapors.

The procession was endless
and moved from all four corners of
the Universe.

I began to dance…
my stick, my gentle partner.

I thought for a moment that I heard
‘laughing.’

I turned staring directly into the flame—blinded.

Does the Sun laugh, I wondered?

This morning—I believe it did…
AND, nothing could diminish its light.

Go NOW—carry this PEACE
into the world.

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Camino—Day 18

Camino—Day 18

April 12th
CARRION de LOS CONDES to CALDADILLA de la CUEZA

Traveling with NO-bodys

They come from Germany, Brazil, Idaho, Florida, Australia, and Seattle—

They traveled from Switzerland, Netherlands, Chicago, Italy, Finland and Connecticut—

They arrived in St Jean Pied de Port from Argentina, California, Korea, UK (London), Spain and France, their homeland, to begin the Camino de Santiago

Every ONE comes with a ‘personal’ intention for walking.  The question IS not what one does in LIFE, but rather, “WHY DOES ONE WALK?”.

There are a ‘host’ of answers—truly Holy Communion…

Some walk to find themselves.  Along the way they befriend one soul after another—a way NOT to listen to what their hearts seek?  It doesn’t matter…it’s their Camino.

Others walk because they’ve lost a child or their soul’s companion.

Some ‘face’ a terminal illness—if their days end on the Camino…their life complete.

Others walk for religious reasons, AND many for NO religious reasons at all.  In fact, they’ve lost their belief in God, BUT they’ve returned to walk this Camino again and again because it has changed them.

AND, there are those who walk for spiritual reasons…each foot step a prayer…

A whispered “NAMASTE’ sparks and endless smile and no other words seem necessary.

So, I’m here, walking with the most incredible NO-bodys.

It’s not important if you own a business, run a company—
It matters NOT if you’ve authored a book or recorded numerous albums (did I say albums?  Now, that’s dating me).

No one really cares if you’re a scientist, a doctor or an engineer—

It doesn’t matter if you’re a mother or father, sister or brother—

We, a ‘collective’ community of pilgrims, join hands with ancient pilgrims of our past who first walked this walk—

Their NAMES…SO MANY—UNKNOWN…
Simple, EXTRAORDINARY no-bodys walking The Way–

What is it we’ll find when we reach SANTIAGO or beyond?

It hardly matters…what matters most is this present NOW.

We, No-bodys, seek NOTHING more.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m beginning to understand.

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Camino—Day 19

Camino—Day 19

April 13th
CALDADILLA de la CUEZA to SAHAGUN

Being in the Now

Each morning
I rise,
I put one foot on the floor
followed by the other.

I do this to see if the blisters
have gone down and to see
if my toenails are still intact.

I’m definitely in the NOW.
But, I prepare myself for
the beginnings of a new day.

As soon as I step outdoors—
breathing in the chill of the morn…
I set out.

I sing my prayer
and I’m suddenly mindful of THIS moment.
Then, like a sweeping gust of wind
my mind wonders about the next town
and how many more I’ll find
until I reach today’s’ destination.

Oh—and there is tomorrow…
I’ll be in __________________!
for the love of…

What happened to the NOW…
How did I lose it so quickly?

In the background, the sound of the Cuckoo bird sings and I begin to laugh.

IF ONLY I could ‘be’ like the Cuckoo
singing in the present NOW because it is what needs ‘tending’ most…

It is the deepest I AM—
making a track one second and
before one looks back—GONE!

Trying to LIVE in this NOW…
I’m NOT thinking anymore—
I’m listening to
the bird’s singing.

In what town have I arrived?

‘Cuckoo Cuckoo’

 

 

 

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Camino—Day 20

Camino—Day 20

April 14th
SAHAGUN to EL BURGO RANERO

 

This temple…my Body (A Tree)

Woven into the Earth, my toes, life’s roots, curl through the mud…giving thanks to my soles which hold them, allowing them to linger in the soft blanket of grass.  My soles celebrate my heels— a strong base which allows me to stand.  My heels embrace my ankles—the soft part of the branch that flexes, giving mobility to the root system of THIS Divine being.  My ankles support my calves…those muscular barrels holding the knees…the knees carrying the weight of the Temple’s ‘top’ and allowing the roots to dig deeper and deeper (especially if injured) finding a way to continue to grow.  The knees embrace the quads—the TRUNK of this sacred tree.  They ‘hold’ this dwelling place—and even if MOVED, the trunk holds a place sustaining the pelvis, tender areas, protected by bark and climbing into the stomach—the storage bin for nutrients sustaining this ‘being’ day in and day out.  Above the stomach, front and back—the CORE…the HEART center of MYSTERY…beating within the cage of ribs, held by the spine allowing this SHOOT the ability to bend and sway.  The breast plate—the chest adds dimensions to this living, breathing temple and near to it on both sides, arms, branches for gathering, caring, holding, pulling—praying…when the arm’s hands rest in prayer.

The neck bends—sometimes ‘upward’ in awe and at times ‘downward’ in humility giving thanks for what so often is forgotten and no longer remembered.  NOW—we arrive at the HEAD…there is a mouth which speaks, BUT loves the gentleness of quiet…the nose that captures scents—(amazing how much it can take in…)  two ears—allowing us to hear and listen…our eyes—gateway to light—inviting us to gaze upon the dwelling place of the MOST HIGH.  Finally…the CROWN—if ENLIGHTENED, none of anything would be if the toes inching into the soils of time did not continue to feed off creation’s very presence—birthing, groaning, laboring not yesterday, not tomorrow, BUT EVERY single day.

This Temple…my body—a Tree, uprooted finding LIFE in being human.

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Camino—Day 21

Camino—Day 21

April 15th
EL BURGO RANERO to MANSILLA de las MULAS

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact
that I think I am following your will does
not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all
that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart
from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me
by the right road though I may know
nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I
may seem to be lost & in the shadow
of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me, and
You will never leave me to face
my perils alone.”                                      ~~~Thomas Merton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed…

by sheer HOSPITALITY…

A gentle rain soaked my being this day and had it not ‘rained,’ the tears flowing from my inner dwelling would have me drenched—

All this so, so GOOD.

When I arrived in El Burgo Ranero yesterday and entered the hostel, a gentleman greeted me.  He did not ask my name, rather he brought out a fresh glass and a bottle of water.  He spoke ‘a little ‘ English and I told him I speak ‘poco’ Spanish…together we laughed AND we understood.

I handed him my passport and he stamped my pilgrim credentials.  “Give me your pack.”  NO ONE asked for my pack!

He carried it up the stairs to my room, opened the door to a most elegant room with flowers and a balcony overlooking the small city street.  Across the way, I saw children playing soccer in a nearby field.  It was so BEAUTIFUL…the young woman cleaning glanced at me and I said, “BONDITO”—she smiled with EVERY fiber of her being.  The scent in the air was so fresh, unlike this pilgrim who just finished walking 15 miles.  Trust, there is a ‘pilgrim aroma!’

The hospitality did not end.  Breakfast in the a.m. was served later than the time I liked to set out, so I asked if a small sack could be made for me with a sandwich and a piece of fruit.  The response, “NO PROBLAMA.”  Then the young man, who spoke a little English said, “Would you like coffee?”  I said, “No, no—keep it simple.”  He came to my room to adjust the heat and saw my journal.  I indicated I enjoy writing—he smiled and said he would bring my ‘breakfast bag’ that evening.

The knock on my door came at 7:10p.m.  He handed me a sack, squeezed my hand and said, “Buen Camino!”  I held the sack thinking it weighed more than my pack.  He prepared enough food to feed a family, and tucked into the bottom of the bag a Camino Notebook…each page imprinted with the image of the shell—I offered NOTHING and THEIR hospitality like a stream—

I arrived in MANSILLA…greeted warmly, “Let us begin with a drink!”  I’m rather boring…my glass of agua and his glass of white wine ‘clanged’ in a moment of WELCOME—

How ‘surprisingly’ wonderful to discover Merton’s prayer during ‘THIS’ days’ writings—

I have no idea where I’m going…yes, each day the wayward signs guide, BUT my being WALKS.  I don’t have to have anything figured out, AND there is one thing of which I AM certain—I am NEVER alone.

As I complete this last sentence, I see a stork perched atop the church steeple.  I always knew that is what delivered me to my family! (Ha!-Ha!)

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Camino—Day 22

Camino—Day 22

April 16th
MANSILLA de LAS MULAS to LEON

 

Stained Glass Window…

The mighty Cathedral stood in the center of the plaza…one hundred twenty-five stained glass images each telling a story of the Gospels and the legends of the Saints.  The chief function of the medieval church—to instruct the illiterate.  AMAZINGLY, the people saw the LIGHT in each story.

As the sun ‘pinched’ the glass sending a glorious array of colors throughout the ‘dark’ haven of the church’s ‘inner’ structure, this cathedral was ONE that allowed the light to ENTER.  The ‘ones’ who understood—the ONES who did NOT spend time ‘thinking,’ BUT instead, LIVED the message—REFLECTED BACK narratives of the holiness of God they became.

I AM ‘immersed’ as if ONE of these people…PILGRIMS!

Yesterday…many of us who began the Camino in St. Jean three weeks earlier, learned that two pilgrims who embarked with us died on that snowy trail.  As I write, I cannot hold back my tears.

As I walked today, I saw a woman with her husband.  She was in much pain, but she WALKED—each step a memory.  When she returns HOME…depending on how far she is able to travel…her leg will be amputated.  Another gentleman promised his BELOVED he would carry her to the END OF THE WORLD.  He spreads her ashes along the WAY…the last stop—FINISTERRE (The End of the World) and he will have fulfilled his promise.

Each story is ANOTHER stained glassed window…ANOTHER Gospel TRUTH revealed, lived, celebrated, grieved, broken, healed and, yes, REBORN into the Cosmic reality of the ETERNAL NOW.  All things are part of each other… NOTHING separate…the LIGHT has dispelled any separation.

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Camino—Day 23

Camino—Day 23

April 17th
LEON to VILLADANGOS del PARMO

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time…”                    ~~~T. S. Eliot

Leaving the City Behind…

The lights of the Cathedral were visible as I looked back… (I didn’t turn to STONE).

I pressed forward, tired.  Something about the BIG Cities…I don’t sleep.
It is easy to get sucked into the whirlwind pace—the lure of shops—‘come and buy, come and buy.’  Already, I’ve given away items from my pack that I did NOT need and what I have is still more than enough…BUT, to put SOME-THING into my carry bag means EXTRA-weight on my back.  Restaurants, bars, EVERYTHING one seeks is readily available, and if one doesn’t like something, next door—another shop.

Hosts are different in the cities.  To them you’re a customer.  You place your order, pay the bill, sit a moment.  Workers cannot ‘chat.’  Business is paramount.

Cars are speeding along…a taxi on every corner offers the pilgrim a lift.  One has to be mindful when crossing the road.  TRAFFIC does NOT stop.

MY mind is spinning.  There is the constant need to rush, to hurry, to get there.
My being understands this ‘pace’—unfortunately.  Yet, I’m fortunate enough to recognize it
(at least in this moment) and allow myself space to BREATHE.

Before I know it, I’m walking ALONE.  There is no one in front of me AND the city is lost behind me as the sun takes the stage.  I hear NOTHING and it is beautiful—my feet begin to dance to ‘silence’s’ BEAT (blisters and all).  The birds join in.  I can hear the ruffling of their feathers as they shake off the morning’s dew.  I attempt to do the same as my feathered friends—oops, I step into a mud puddle…my soft tan pants NOW a bright crimson.  And, I laugh aloud.

I’ve come to a small pilgrim village.  Outside, I spot elders sweeping their mud walkways.  A lovely Crone is cleaning her windows and at the balcony’s ledge she has fresh cookies.  She ‘sees’ me and, with a grandmother’s love, echoes “Buen Camino” again and again.
Por favor…have a cookie (NO CHARGE).  She smiles with delight AND, in the MOMENT, it is the very best COOKIE in the whole wide world.  Women, yes women, seem to know what the pilgrims need to make it to the NEXT mile.  Somehow these gentle women are visible at the right time.

The other day when I arrived in Mansilla de Las Mulas, I spotted a beautiful aged woman with glorious white flowing hair gazing out her window.  I was ‘looking’ for a marker AND from behind the glass window, “SHE POINTED”—SHE knew AND then SHE blew me a kiss.  I felt it and I still feel it lingering on my cheek.  I’m out of the city—the welcome is back.
“We have been WAITING for you.”

I know I’ll sleep tonight.

 

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Camino—Day 24

Camino—Day 24

April 18th
VILLADANGOS del PARMO to ASTORGA

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.  Now I know
only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”                                                                                                                                                            1 Corinthians 13:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Along Bell Towers…

The sound of the bells in the majestic towers can be heard ‘clanging’ in the distance.
Soon I’m standing in their hallowed echoing chamber—CLANG, CLANG, CLANG…
the vibrations ring through ‘all’ fibers of my dwelling place.

Now…I AM mindful of the bell tower and the clanging between my ear-drums—ENDLESS.
The continuity of the ringing bells limits my ability to hear, to listen.
Still, with the clanging—beating, beating, beating I AM learning to ALLOW the
NOISE to become MUSIC—sweet intoxicating songs welling up inside me.  When
the clanging ceases, I AM left with a melodious symphony of silence…untouched.

My mind holds this space as if two hands joined in prayer—EVERY moment of life
a meditation of extraordinary wonder.

The bells toll—I walk singing as I go…Wisdom in the wakes of every stanza unwritten.

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Camino—Day 25

Camino—Day 25

April 19th
ASTORGA to RABANAL del CAMINO

 

…(Wisdom) seems to go underground for a while; one loses the thread.  Then, in ways inexplicable to linear causality, it pops up again.  It re-creates itself over and over, so it seems, in the minds and hearts of those who have been taught (or discovered on their own) how to listen & see.  It never really goes away, and it always comes back in fresh new form, customized to the conditions of the world.”
Cynthia Bourgeault—The Wisdom Way of Knowing

The face of the terrain changes before my eyes…snow capped mountains appear
before me.  The sun at my back stretches the curtain from night to dawn…trees
blossoming, a green hilly landscape beneath my feet…the wind making its welcome known AND my step ‘revived.’  Somewhere ‘within’—a new rush of
adrenaline, and my body—every living, breathing cell, in unison gives gratitude to
THIS Now.

I took this day to walk ever ‘conscious’ of St James…mindfully I was aware, he, a
brother of Jesus.  They walked together.  James heard Him speak…he listened to the same parables over and over AND never tired of following Him.  After Christ was crucified, James’ life CHANGED.  He heard Jesus talk about what was coming,
what would be when He was gone.  What NOW?  James and the others hid
themselves…nothing was really clear.  THEN, a change came over ‘ALL’ of them.
What they said they believed SUNK in and now believing BECAME a living
moment.  James went a way he NEVER could have envisioned, but he journeyed
attempting to SPREAD a transformative message of LOVE.

It is a bit of a paradox—as James walked ‘THIS CAMINO’ it’s understood that ONLY about seven persons ‘listened’ and followed—NOW, here is the BEST part of my
walk with James…TODAY, THIS MOMENT—if James were present and trying to
‘book’ speaking engagements to SHARE A GOSPEL OF LOVE—James would be asked, “What kind of tools do you have to SHOW your success?  We need to know
this before we book a program with YOU as the facilitator!”  I can ‘see’ James’
expression, a look of ‘what are you talking about?’  “I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU OF LOVE.”  James would NOT pack a house so his message would get put on some back burner and he would be told, “No hard luck—you can try again next year.”:  James was NOT trying to ‘glorify’ himself…I’m not even sure he understood ‘ego’ development BUT, then again, maybe he did.  He hung out with a lot of men…all changed because of the life of  the man, Jesus.

James did not shout out, “WORSHIP HIM.”  He did not even say, “YOU MUST be SAVED.”  He spoke of His life, His death AND His rising into the fullness of ALL Creation ‘extending’ this gift to ONE and ALL—EVERYONE!

Heaven is eternal AND it is here NOW.  James did not speak of Hell, of fire and
brimstone—he spoke of METANOIA…A NEW WAY of SEEING…turning our hearts
and minds ONLY to Love.

James is gone, BUT he’s changed MORE than the lives of seven persons.  Numbers
of pilgrims walk this road conscious or unconscious of James and the vision he
hoped to bring into THIS world.   People don’t STOP coming.  Even those without
a FAITH background have come back a second time, a fifth time, and eleventh time
AND proclaimed, “I’m NO LONGER the same…I’m less judgmental, I don’t become so
defensive anymore, I’ve let go, I’m still the same, but I’m different.”  Get it?  You
don’t have to.  Persons with FAITH don’t take themselves so seriously anymore or
they no longer put themselves in places that are not life-giving.

James, if you were here today—I still don’t believe you’d be invited to speak…not because your ‘record’ indicates you were onto something, but I think your simple sandals, small carry pack, NO cell phone would lead people to view you as some radical (you sound like a radical FEMINIST—I get that).  They’d say you DON’T BELONG in our world…
(What do you mean you’re not on Facebook?)

Where has the real world gone?
People out for themselves…

If Jesus showed up again, He’d have a band of 12 women!  (Not that He didn’t
have a following).  AND, the veil in the Temple would be torn in three instead of two—three because it would eliminate dualities and you’d ALWAYS need the third piece for the two to be WHOLE again.

So, James…thanks for today’s WALK—I pray a little of YOU lives in me.

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Camino—Day 26

Camino—Day 26

April 20th
RABANAL DEL CAMINO to MOLINASECA

 

This day’s path asked of me to leave a stone from my homeland.  I left not only a
stone, but a flood gate of tears—

Even before standing at Cruz de Ferro (Pile of Burden)—cross at the highest point (1,504m)
of The Way of St James (French Way), in Foncebadon…my emotions stirred—

I could not begin to understand why or from where my tears came…and, it did not
matter.  It was NOT sorrow…it was some-thing beyond bliss…no word could fill all
that ‘beat’ in my heart—

The ascent to ‘this’ place…hauntingly serene was exhausting, but I felt I was in
some magical garden…life bursting at every seam.

Yes, I brought a stone.  But, not only one.  I brought a stone from my sis of heart who asked me to lay it down for her.  So much emotion in her heart-shaped stone which she found in
the Grand Canyon.  One day she’ll walk this way and she’ll know her burden has already
been laid down.  Another kindred spirit ‘gifted’ me with a shell before I left home.  I told her where I would leave her shell.  She ‘holds’ so many persons near, and this day as I put down the shell, I prayed her arms were a little lighter—she loves fully.  AND, my stone…it was one I shared with a ‘Pal’ back home.  The word printed on it—‘SILENCE.’  I gently placed silence on
the pile with the other stones.  It was NOT because it has been a burden—it has been
a gift…freedom from useless noise, chatter.  Now I’ll bathe in the joy of tears…the
droplets that form—BECAUSE…

Every step I walked…Creation’s Temple.

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Camino—Day 27

Camino—Day 27

April 21st
MOLINASECA to VILLAFRANCA del BIERZO

Today…the sun ‘needed’ time to make its way over the mountains and into the valleys.
My soles have stretched for each terrain they gently grip.  At times my mind drifts.
I’ve no idea where I am and where I’m walking.  A stone in the path ‘connects’ with the arch of my foot…the exact spot that echoes a refrain—‘OUCH‘…my ‘soft,’ NOW CALLOUSED BLISTER causes me to walk carefully.  My ‘stick,’ a beloved companion.  I’m feeling sad thinking what it will be like when we say our ‘goodbyes.’  ‘She’ has carried me, held my weight,
brought me to each location when my tired being cried out, “Camino—lift me just a little longer.”
I cannot tell you from where comes my ‘inner’ strength, that internal engine that finds that ‘gear’
held in reserve for the EXACT moment.  ‘Thank you’ has become a word passing from my
lips again and again.

Holy gratitude…Holy it is.  If you don’t like the term (I’m tired of political correctness), know that I have found a deep reverence for all things (people included)— HOLY!

I’ve arrived in Villafranca, my place to stay: Hostel La Puerta del Perdon—I’m
greeted over and over with welcome, warm refreshing hospitality.  My room…the
first with images of the sea…nautical maps, ships in a bottle, a solitary woman
looking out at the ocean.

The room is painted blue matching the painted sky outside my window.  There is
sand in a vase and a sea lily beside my bed.  In this NOW, I’m held as if in the curl of
a wave.  I’m resting in that hidden arch of a womb where there is that unknowing
moment of nothingness before the wave crashes in on itself, a power unrestrained, and
NEVER a moment that one single drop is not connected with every splash of wholeness.
I look up AGAIN…an image of three women drawing water from a well…

I AM never alone.  Muchas Gracias Camino!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castillo Palacio de los Marqueses

“Jesus says, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth, it will destroy you.”
~~~Gospel of Thomas Quote 70

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Camino—Day 28

Camino—Day 28

April 22nd
VILLAFRANCA del BIERZO to HERRERIAS

“…Just like moons and the suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes
springing high, Still I’ll rise…”                                                                                                         

                                                                                                        ~~~Maya Angelou

 

This morning I was given three options…I could embark on one of three separate
roads which would ultimately connect along the path and lead to THIS day’s
destination…

Path three would guide me into the mountains.  One was encouraged to travel
alongside someone because the “Way” markers were NOT always easily visible.
The vistas were beyond amazing as the guidebook pointed out.  My entire being
responded, “YES” and then it breathed…softly proclaiming, “No.”  Not long ago,
my ego would not have bothered to read the other options.  Of course, I
would have thought, “This IS the ONLY way.”

Path two wound through some steep grades—markers were clear and the guide
book described the stunning vistas that one would view.  The path circled itself
away from the sounds of traffic.

Path one offered the most direct route alongside the roadway and the river.  It
was a serene path—no hidden obstacles, no steep grades, no narrow passages…it was
covered with trees blocking the sun, providing shade and detouring heavy
amounts of rain.  We’ve reached that ‘part’ of the Camino where rain IS the
forecast…the winds from the Atlantic Ocean in priceless harmony with the majestic
mountains. As I’m writing, lightning and thunder display a beauty all their own,
while the cows in the valley, just below my window, have bedded down.  The
bells that were heard clanging around their necks rattled about in between each
break of thunder.

I embarked upon path one—there was a softened sense of humility in this choice
for me.  As soon as I STEPPED out the door, the rain began to fall.  Some-THING,
Some-one was/is guiding my steps because to be on the other paths during
inclement weather carries great risks.  Even in sunny weather, the trail has its
hidden hazards.  Mindfulness is a constant refrain.

The persistent sound of raindrops pecking at my gear was delightful.  It wasn’t a
cold day so the rain became my welcome companion.

There was a brief moment of clearing.  Before me, a rainbow…its colors unfolded
with a brilliant vibrancy between the casts of darkened clouds.

Each day parallels life—
Always changing, never the same and always filled with wonder…
I am ONE with the roadway and the river…

 

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Camino—Day 29

Camino—Day 29

April 23rd
HERRERIAS to O’CEBREIRO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last evening I kept thinking, “Today, yes this very day, your Camino has ended.  Tomorrow when you wake, it will begin again…never the same as yesterday— for yesterday is gone.
Today begins something new.”

I’m uncertain if ‘this’ thought came because I am drawing nearer to my destination,
but this feels surreal—

The Camino calls me to live each day as ‘A Way’—a way of being conscious, clear,
and mindful when clarity is far removed.

Each morning as my eyes lift the lashes still drizzled with sleep dust, what is the
first thing I bring to my mind?  Do I welcome the silence, do I hear my breath, do I
pause in gratitude for all that is in this single moment?  These questions consume
my being before my feet touch the floor.  Have I begun my day in an expression of
gratitude?  As I the face the world, I want to sing out only THANKFULNESS!!!

‘If I forget to offer thanks and begin rushing to the affairs of the world, to family,
and friends…I ask You, God of my being, to slow me down—to invite me to reflect
about my running from You—my not sitting quietly—my not focusing on the gift
of life You have given me so freely.’

What will I allow or not allow to pass from my lips today?  Will I let myself get
caught up in worldly successes, other events, programs, retreats?  ‘Spirit’ says,
Be Content—Be Content—Be Content!”

I’m not the same as yesterday.  I’m a day older.  Perhaps, I am a bit grayer (that
does not mean wiser).  STILL, I’m Sandy.

The one (I) who began this Camino am nearer to ‘its’ completion—realizing it
begins anew each day.

Will I walk the rest of my days on Earth in ‘LOVE?’  Can I NOT work so hard at
being who I’m NOT and embrace the me others will try to change?

I can hear, “That’s not the real world, Sandy.”

My world is real—NOW!!!
No one sees it, but I do.  I’m NOT posting on the internet so to give it evidence or
proof.  The ‘sense’ within is transformational and it is ENOUGH—
I need nothing more than ALL I already have.

My most important ‘treasures’ are the friendships I have made and the ones I’ve
lost in life.

I have learned most by ‘LOVING’—by risking.  I never would change me because
every moment in my life has made me who I am this day.

I cannot stop expressing ‘THANKS.’

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Camino—Day 30

Camino—Day 30

April 24th
O’CEBREIRO to TRIACASTELA

“God is the One whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
                                                                                                                         ~~~St Bonaventure

 

O’Cebreiro…this beautiful place felt like I was ‘resting’ in Eden.  EVERYWHERE I
looked, creation was birthing itself as if on a time lapse camera.
I sat outside most of the day writing, sketching and taking in some sustenance.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh, the vistas filled me with what no ‘food’ could sustain.

It was early evening when I spotted a man who passed me a few times this
afternoon gazing at my sketch… ‘Bravada, Bravada’ was all he said and we shared
an unspoken smile.

Now, as I sat quietly, he came and sat beside me…a man who had seen many
years—his face glowed.

Then, he extended his hand and said, “I’m Joseph.  Joseph from Rome.”

We managed a heartwarming conversation and we sat silently bathed in the
setting sun and in the mountains that stretched for interminable miles.

Then, Joseph from Rome, showed me his finger.  He had a large gash that he
managed to do on his own with his Swiss army knife.  His bandage was soaked
with blood.  No pharmacies on this lofty mountain haven.  “Wait, I will help.”  I
went to my room and pulled out a few medicated blister bandages.  Joseph, from
Rome, was delighted as I dressed his wound.  We shared a smile and he was gone.

Why am I writing about Joseph—Joseph from Rome?  I’m on this Camino de
Santiago, and it does carry with it a ‘charming’ male energy.  Joseph is my
father’s name…and today I walked (mindfully) with my dad.  If not for my dad, I
would not be here ‘walking.’

I ALWAYS was an adventurous child.  As I sat, I recalled a family outing to an
amusement park many years ago.  My mom had me wear a dress (That’s a whole
other story—but, an amusement park and a dress?)  I was only five and hurried to the
fish pond.  I cast my line and won a Roy Rodgers pin which I immediately
pinned to my dress—“High-Ho Silver Away.”  We went to friends nearby for a
swim and supper.  I loved the water though I couldn’t swim.  I played on the steps
until it was time for our meal.

The adults were chatting and my sister and brother were relaxed at the table. BUT,
it was time for Roy and me to go galloping—poolside seemed like the perfect
place.

Skipping along the edge (just like the path I’ve walked today in the rain), Roy somehow unclipped from my dress, flying though the air and landing right in the
deep end…he was sinking.  My pin—what was I to do?”

NATURALLY—I had to save him.  I jumped in.  No one heard the splash.
Did I mention I did not know how to swim?  I caught Roy before he sank to the bottom.
Instinct took over.  I began to kick, to move my arms, to hold my breath.  Try as I
might, my little body was not able to reach the surface.

THEN, Tonto came.  That’s my dad.  He happened to look up and saw my head
skimming the water.  He jumped right in—glasses, car keys, wallet…and, he rescued me.

It was a very melancholy ride home.  (I did not know what that word meant).  My
mother sat with me wrapping me in a towel and embracing me in her arms.  She
was NOT letting me go.  My sister and brother sat quietly in the back seat.  I saw
tears.  What I really wanted to tell them was—“I CAN SWIM,” but it was not the
time.  The next day our neighbors invited us to visit and to enjoy their pool.  I
immediately jumped in—NO FEAR…and I was swimming!  Never could get me out
of the water.  To this day, if you look closely, you can see
my gills (ha-ha!).

My dad also told stories—two I’ve never forgotten (both from the Bible).  The
first…the story of Sampson.  It would be a long time before I would cut my hair.
The second story, Joseph and his amazing coat of many colors.  A little of my dad
has rubbed off on me—story telling binds us together.  Today, I break open
Scripture stories in a NEW way…

I know that my dad would have loved to walk the Camino with me, but his legs no
longer do the miles.  Walks along the ocean are his Camino.

Dad, this day I carried you in my HEART.  You always knew I followed my ‘inner’
path, and you never asked me to go any other way than what was ‘right’ for me…

If I haven’t told you enough—
I whispered it in the wind this day.

I love you Joseph Mattucci—

sandy mattucci, your daughter

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Camino—Day 31

Camino—Day 31

April 25th
TRIACASTELA to SARRIA

“That which God said to the rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He
said to my heart, and made it a hundred times more beautiful.”              RUMI

A soft rain washed over me this morning…it continued to fall as I walked for miles
bathing in the endless terrain before me.  Off to the west I was not able to make
out the mountains obscured by the clouds. The mist created a hidden ‘agenda.’
I knew some-thing was there, but it was not clear.  There was/is a hidden place in
me which I do not have to understand or figure out.  I simply know it is there and I
let it be.

I passed one pilgrim this morning—he with his headlamp and I with mine.  We
whispered ‘Buen Camino’ and I moved on.

I walked in silence and wished I could store this ‘quiet’ in a bottle to pour out
upon days filled with useless noise…’blaring music,’ machinery, automobiles,
ringing phones—

I’ve been soooo ‘off the hook,’ detached from cyberspace.  While I know the
benefits of technology, progress, a piece of me wants to hold onto this
quiet/solitude forever.  Whom am I fooling?

I have the right gear to sustain me through all the weather elements, and today
the right gear is beneficial as the heavy rains drench me.  I think of the early
pilgrims who walked the Camino.  They did not have—yet, they made their way.

I reached Sarria (a city)—a noticeable change in scenery, but as I set out to
explore, I had my sights set on reaching the Mosteiro de Santa Maria Madalena.When I arrived, the doors were closed.  I was disappointed.  Slowly, the door
unlocked.  A small statured man welcomed me.  He stamped my credentials and
led me through a door to an interior garden.  The mosaic floor was enchanting.
He then pulled me in gently—walking me into ‘The Inglesis.’  Hidden tears flowed.
He allowed me to sit by myself—I cannot explain anything…

The mist covering this day has hidden what it has willed and I honor all that is
NOT revealed and that is still somehow visible.

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Camino—Day 32

Camino—Day 32

April 26th
SARRIA to PORTOMARIN

“…We cannot live in the past and we try in vain to live with the idea of
some future golden age.  The only place we can truly inhabit is the present.  The rest is fantasy—some painful, some pleasurable—some deceptive.”
(pg 248 / A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)

When I AM ‘inside’
I AM far from lost—
It is the ‘closest’ place
to being found.

‘Outside’ of me
are the constant lures
pulling me AWAY from
the ‘inner’ freedom
I NOW know.

THIS ‘temple’ that I AM—
That each of us IS…is
NOT made of stone upon stone…

Every moment I breathe
I AM ALIVE with wonder,
and upon dying I will
be reborn into ALL that already is…

AND—I will know the ‘place’
as a first time
even as a part of me
has been here
all along.

 

Upon leaving the city,
dressed overhead two arching rainbows—

I’m NOT seeking signs
except the yellow WAYMARKERS—
visible signs.
Yet, ‘invisible graces’ illuminate
my every step…
NOW dancing with raindrops—
I reach my rural haven…
Nestled in trees, tucked alongside
the river—
The sun breaks the clouds sending
down shafts of LIGHT…heaven
all around
and NOW a hawk circles
above my head…
Screeching, screeching, screeching…
what a glorious chorus of
ALLELUIAS…
THIS is my church—
an ever present COMMUNITY
ignited with the breath of LIFE…
How can I help, from this day
forward, NOT to go in PEACE.

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Camino—Day 33

Camino—Day 33

April 27th
PORTOMARIN to PAL DE REI

“The foolish man (woman) seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man
(woman) grows it under his (her) feet.”                                  J R Oppenheimer

Today—the rain fell, softly at FIRST, and then as if someone pushed a lever, it
splashed the Earth soaking EVERYTHING.  At times I could ‘see’ thick ‘sheets’ of rain
rolling right in the path and there was NO escape.

MEANING filled my mind today.  ‘We’ give meaning to so many things…actually
almost to everything.  The meaning I give regarding this rain soaked day
determines how I will walk and how ‘pleasant’ the experience may or may not be.

I could list many ‘meaningful’ moments that twirled and curled my soaked hair,
but that would prolong the experience I am enjoying.  What I ‘spend’ my ‘mind’
on ‘feeds’ the meaning…adds color to life.

I want to fill myself with what is ‘good’ so that I might nourish the world through
what others receive from me.  I’m walking through ‘living’ pages of history at this
moment—choices made…with good intentions even though they may not have
manifested what initially was intended.

Still, I’m tired when persons belabor the same old tapes, harvest hatred and
dualities again and again.  Are we different from those long ago who TRIED to
pave a way where ALL can live harmoniously?

What MEANING will future generations find in what we leave behind?

I pray…I really pray that with all the technology we have at our disposal, every
moment of every day we have or not have, we will not lose a balance of
FAITH…the silent unknown, the hidden mystery that each of us cannot find on
GOOGLE.

I pray ‘we’ do NOT give our children ‘everything.’  I pray that our children
understand the gift WAITING and the simplicity of joy that comes with
unfolding—

I pray that we never rush the seasons—
May their meanings kindle in us the desire to ripen as ‘meaning‘ feeds our roots—
allowing us to grow.

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Camino—Day 34

Camino—Day 34

April 28th
PALAS DE REI to ARZUA

“This is my simple religion…
There is no need for temples.
There is no need for complicated philosophy.
Our own brain, our own heart is the temple.
The philosophy is loving kindness & compassion.”   ~~~Dalai Lama~~~

 

An Encounter with Goodness

I rang the buzzer…
The door slowly squeaked open—
There in its ‘frame’—soft gray hair, a face…a body that has lived its years AND
she smiled placing her warm hand on my chilled wet face.  She ‘hung’ my soaked
rain gear and led me to the hostess—a middle aged GEM…who before she could
say “WELCOME” —THE CRONE HELD MY SHOULDERS AND GAVE ME A HUG OF
WELCOME—then disappeared.

I was shown to my room.  The fresh scent of sheets, a down comforter, a hot
shower—gifts from my hostess to me.  Later, I made my way downstairs for a bite
to eat—

THERE she was…THE CRONE—preparing supper.  The sweet aroma was feast
enough.

Again, she welcomed me to sit.  She was MARTHA and I felt like the young Mary.
“MARTHA” knew how to serve and she knew how to welcome the stranger.  She
knew how to be still and at the same time how to ‘PREPARE’ hearts for the way.

GOODNESS was all that played in my mind…
(Today I recalled yesterday’s ‘moment’)
She was the TEACHER…the sweetest simplicity given in all she touched.
(She needed no accolades) She sat with me while I ate and when I had finished
eating the banquet prepared, she blessed my left cheek and then my right with a
KISS…

An encounter with GOODNESS—
Now, I must go and BE the same.

***How fitting as I end this days’ journal entry that I come upon the words of
Mary Oliver’s WILD GEESE.  My knees no longer marred with callouses…FREE***

WILD GEESE

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a
hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your
body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell
You mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the
landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean
blue air, are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your IMAGINATION
calls to you like the WILD GEESE, harsh
and exciting—
Over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

                                      ~~~Mary Oliver~~~

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Camino—Day 35

Camino—Day 35

April 29th
ARZUA to RUA

Each day—
I’ve walked with angels.
their voices ‘singing’ to me—to ALL
who ‘listen.’

At times they were hidden.  It did not matter—never did they leave me alone.
Sometimes, one would perch itself upon a lofty branch and sing as if saying, ‘yes,
yes…you’re on the way.’

Other times they’d reveal their astonishing wings—
soaring, they’d capture the wind in one single ‘swoop’ and soar endlessly—
And this time they invited me not only
to listen, but to see.

Don’t worry about your return (only one day to Santiago)…don’t think about
what you’ll say or won’t say—

Sing ‘your’ song
you’ve earned your wings.
If they laugh at you, make fun—
fly higher & higher—then descend
into the clouds…’LAUGHING’ now that they
have become your pillows to rest—
Don’t believe in angels?
Try listening awhile.

 

 

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Camino—Day 36

Camino—Day 36

April 30th
RUA to SANTIAGO

Wind and rain greeted me this day.
They seemed to weather the ‘spirit’ stirring in me.  For a few days now I have ‘felt’
that I had finished the Camino.  How could this be when I had not yet arrived in
Santiago? Hauntingly, perhaps, I did not wish to arrive to sense an ‘ending..’  Deep
down I knew it to be a new beginning…

I’m still the same, yet changed…How?  I cannot tell you.  I’ll need ‘space’ upon
returning home to sift through all the grains of wheat I’ve ‘plucked’ along
this journey.

Arriving in Santiago felt ’empty.’  Tears bathed my being as I gently placed my
companion (Stickey) with all the other pilgrim sticks that have made their way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The woman ‘gifting’ me with my certificate took my hand and said, “Well done.”
She paused with me in the moment—NO RUSHING.  I knew her to be a pilgrim.

I chose to attend the pilgrim Mass.  The cathedral was full…standing room only.  A
gentle woman religious entered the altar proper space and began to sing.  Her
voice, strong and prayerful, as if we were in heaven (and we are) opened every
hollowed place with awe.

Again—a silent rush of tears…a procession of male clergy and the voice of the
woman ‘lifting’ hearts in prayer.  It was the first moment in a long while I felt
sorrow.  I sensed a lack of equality, and as much as I wanted to run out, I looked
all around me.  The cathedral was packed with many faith-filled souls and with those of no faith—there was a shared solemn reverence.  I wept, and wept, and
wept.

I’m so ALIVE—free from so much, so much ‘information,’ system overload be it
religious, political, economic or the simple demands of connecting with friends.
This ‘journey’ ALONE has given me the gift of ‘being’ with self—a self I’ve enjoyed
to walk with…

As the ‘botafumeiro’ in the cathedral was swung—symbolic (originally) to
fumigate the sweaty pilgrims, the temple in me rose…an ‘air’ of cleansing needed.
AS I departed the cathedral, I thought of the thousands of pilgrims who gathered
in this place over the centuries—those coming to be blessed as they completed
the journey.  History has a way of touching those in need, and it is the “simple”
souls who understand the message.  These pilgrims have lived their years and the
years now live in them.  ‘They’ are the incense blessing the valleys, the mountain
tops, the country side, the streams and rivers, the farmlands, the flat terrain, the
soggy marshes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I began this journal with a question that has reverberated with me as I walked…

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
                                                                                                                   George Berkeley

What do you believe?
I believe some-thing hears the sound…I have been this tree walking each day
falling, rising—dying.  Yes, dying to a self that need not be ANYTHING but the
manifestation of the living presence of God within me.

So many souls I know AND love would prefer to walk around saying, “Mea Culpa
Mea Culpa.”  It’s easy to think we are NOT good enough, not worthy enough
because then we do not have to be the ‘LIGHT‘ each of us IS!

Shine BEAUTIFUL you—shine and reflect off the glow of EVERYONE you
encounter.  If your light is not received, if others envy you or cast aspersions
about your being, walk on gently…BUT never cover who you are.

Your roots are strong, and wherever you are planted, may your ‘garden’ in life be
a return to Eden—all things GOOD.  Don’t be afraid to eat the fruit!  Amen.

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Camino—Day 37

Camino—Day 37

May 1st
Final Day

THIS day I have reached the ‘c’athedral…
I have arrived
AND discovered ALL the
endless beginnings!

The ‘t’emple in me has COME home—
My heart is so full, expanding with
every breath.
I’m not certain
how this heart has ROOM to beat—

It has discovered ‘a rhythm’ in the
vast mystery of CREATION—

May this knowing ‘rest’ in thee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Translation)

Dust, mud, sun and rain
is the Road of Santaigo
Thousands of pilgrims
and more than a million years.

Pilgrim, who is calling you?
What hidden force draws you?
Neither the field of stars
nor the grand cathedrals.

It is not the brave Navarre,
nor the wine of the Riojas
nor the Galacian seafood,
nor the Castillian fields.

Pilgrim, who is calling you?
What hidden force draws you?
Neither the people of the road
nor the rural customs.

It is not the history and the culture,
nor the rooster of the Calzada
nor the palace of Gaudi.
Nor the Castle Ponferrada.

I see everything in passing,
and it is a joy to see the side (or parts)
more the voice that calls me
I feel much more deeply.

The force that pushes me
the force that draws me,
I can’t explain
Only he from Above knows!

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Camino—Conclusion or perhaps A NEW Beginning

A New Beginning

A Poem by the Sufi poet Hafiz

I AM
a hole in a flute
that the Christ’s breath moves through
LISTEN to this music.

I am the concert from the mouth of every creature
singing with the myriad chorus.

I AM a hole in a flute
that the Christ’s breath moves through
LISTEN to this music.

 

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