Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Arles Route

Click to enlarge

I am starting to research this route to identify what times of the year when risk outweighs reward. Robin and I would love to do it in the fall or early winter. We were very lucky with our Camino Frances this past winter as the weather was unusually clement. I suspect that bit of luck has now run its course and we therefore must expect, and plan for, a mountain winter with lots of snow and cold temps. The question is always how much snow and just how cold? One thing that I am realizing is that weather in these mountain ranges is absolutely unpredictable. We just want to be as sure as possible that the weather extremes at the time of year we travel will be survivable. No fools us. We are attracted to the road less traveled and I notice that this route seems to fit that bill. This can also be a point of concern as one might ask the question why that is the case. I need to better understand that. This route ends at Puente la Reina, but we would hope to continue on to Santiago and Finisterre as well. We shall see. We are in the early stages of our planning, but already I sense a growing restlessness to be back on the Camino. So for now I am enjoying the pre-camino planning, dreaming, and preparing that I find so compelling and encouraging. It is this interim of anticipation that gives us time to gather our strength, relish our dreams, and smile at the challenges. We shall see what reality comes later. But for now, we are beckoned, and at the end of each day, a prayer is offered that soon we will feel the good earth of the camino under our hiking boots once again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

감사합니다! (greetings to Korean Pilgrims)

카미노여행중 가장놀라왔던것중의 하나는 많은 한국인들이 이순례자의길을 알고있고 또 참여하고있다는것이었다. 내가 한국을 떠난지 26년이 지났고 그동안 많은것이 변했지만 여행중에, 특히 이 먼순례자의길에서 모국인들은 만난다는것은 기쁜일이 아닐수없다. 더많은 세월이 지나기전에 남편과 함께 다시한번 카미노순례를 하기원하며 또 그때에는 Hospitalero서 봉사하는것도 계획하는중이다. 그때 만날 모국인들을 위하여 내가할수있는일이 무엇인가를 늘 생각하고 있으며, 작은것이라도 도움을 줄수있기를 기대한다.
카미노에서 만났던 모국인들, 그리고 지금까지 우리블락을 읽어주신 모든 분들에게 감사드리며, Buen Camino!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Once and future pilgrims

A few short months have passed since our return from the Camino, but in a sense we never left it. Each day we talk, to some degree or another, about its impact on us. We nibble around the edges of a variety of scenarios that all lead us back to Spain to that unique fulfillment that the Camino experience provides. Hospitalero training and volunteering, longer routes, shorter routes, no established routes all are in orbit as possibilities as we consider the next step in our relationship with the Camino and the community of travelers it embraces. Time and money are the two practical matters that loom ever present. Sometimes those matters are in the foreground but mostly in the background as we don't want constraints on our dreams. In our experience audacious plans have always found a pathway to fruition. Why shackle one's imagination. Life really is too short to undershoot or sell short what your heart calls you to do. Sure there will be trade offs and sacrifices but dreams can become reality and should. Caution, security, and stability all have a place in our lives, but these concerns should be tempered so as not to be allowed to limit our lives, cripple our imaginations, and strip us of hope.

Think back on any work environment and see what becomes of youth after a career of sacrifice, caution, and dreams denied. It is pretty chilling. Obviously, work careers are not always that bleak, but frequently enough, they are. Enough of that, as we each know where our particular balance point between acknowledging our responsibilities and converting hope to action lies. My point being (at last) that our peace will never be discovered on a field of trepidation. Find the courage to dream large and stop living in the future as the present is all we truly have and can count on.

So, taking our own words of advice Robin and I will be looking to return to the Camino next year. Our hope is that we can have a plan in place by next summer to walk the Arles route into Spain, via the Somport pass, and then continue down the Camino Frances to Santiago and on to Finisterre. This is a longer route (about a 1000 miles total) and a bit more rigorous as there is a fair amount of mountain walking, but courage mes amis, along with the prayers of pilgrims past will win the day. Our preference would be to start in the fall so as to arrive at Finisterre by mid December and allow time to be home at Christmas. Robin promised her choir director that she would not jump ship over Christmas again. Some constraints, as we see, are simply there.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thoughts on a friend's wife passing

As Robin and I returned from a friend's memorial service this afternoon, for his recently departed wife, we could not help but reflect on the fleeting nature of our time in this life and the complexities of reconciling life and death. I would guess that we all have a spiritual relationship that usually hides quietly, for some, behind an artifice that screens our true feelings. This is not a revelation but simply a recognition of how guarded we are when it comes to talking about the inner journey we all experience. Organized religions compete for our pastoral care and our contributions, but when one really drills down, how different are we? My guess is that the answer is not much. To that point Robin reminded me of two transcendent Native American poems that capture eloquently that sense of universal loss, hope, and reconciliation that we all struggle to embrace as those we love depart.

A Native American Prayer

Do not stand at my grave and weep. 
I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow,
I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am the morning hush. I am the graceful rush of beautiful birds in circling flight.

I am the star shine of the night, 
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room,
I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there,
I do not die.

A Lakota Prayer

Oh, great Spirit

Whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world,
Hear Me ! I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. 

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.

Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. 
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, 
my spirit may come to you without shame.

As you reflect on these words let us be reminded that we are all travelers on this earth each sharing a piece of the universal truth of why we are here and what we are meant to do. Our charge is to find the language that allows us all to converse and share, as eloquently as we can, about how each of us effects change in the hearts of those we encounter.

Peace be with you...