Thursday, September 26, 2013

An itch to be scratched

Le Puy en Velay
Robin and I have been casting about trying to decide where our next camino journey will take us. We have twice been down the Camino Frances in winter, and have enjoyed both of those pilgrimages immensely. However, one hitch has always been Robin's choir schedule. She sings with St. Mary's Cathedral Choir in Portland, and has been there for close to ten years. We have tried to accommodate her choir schedule by nestling our caminos in between Christmas and Easter. Having said that, on our first pilgrimage, we did spend Christmas on the camino. This coming year Robin would like to sing straight through Easter Sunday. So, for the moment, our plan is to leave for Europe a couple of days after Easter, and head to Le Puy en Velay. We have conjured up an itinerary that has great appeal as it will take us through both France and Spain with lots of varied terrain, beautiful scenery, and will lead us back to Santiago. The route we are planning will take us from Le Puy to St. Jean Pied de Port, then via the GR 10 hiking trail to Irun where we will walk the Camino Norte until it intersects with the Camino Primitivo which we will then follow to the Camino Frances, then on to Santiago. This is, for us, an ambitious undertaking. The main concern, at the moment, is adapting to walking in hot weather. Robin definitely prefers cool weather to hot weather. In truth I do as well, but I know I can walk in warmer (even hot) weather. Robin is less sure. We will be leaving Le Puy late in April so that bit is okay. We will be walking the Norte, and Primitivo in June, and July. Our hope is that both of those routes will be a bit cooler due to proximity to the coast, and the higher elevations of the mountain passes. We will see. All pilgrimages have challenges to be embraced. I feel certain this one will be no different. The month of May on the Le Puy route will certainly be crowded (this will be new to us). The Norte and Primitivo routes are gaining popularity so there might be more pilgrims there as well. The heat, the rain, the cold (in the early days), even the crowds are all things that can lead to one of those "why am I doing this" moments. We all have them at some point in a pilgrimage. The trick is to acknowledge them for just what they are, then offer up a tip of the hat, and move on. Easier said then done? Of course, but still doable. That is the practice (learning to follow your heart, not your ego) of being on pilgrimage. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The restless heart

It is now six months since returning from the Camino, and our pilgrim spirits are still in full bloom. I was doing some reading this morning and was struggling to pay attention to the text. My mind was cycling back and forth from the book to the Camino. This then got me thinking about restlessness and yearning. Curiously, the book I was reading was about Catholic spirituality, and the section I was trying to focus on was explaining that the Spirit within us is always restless until the journey Home is complete. Many confuse this restlessness of heart with a general feeling of emptiness that they try to fill in the only way familiar to them, self indulgence. These superficial solutions always leave us worse off as we fail to understand, and properly respond to, what our hearts are truly crying out for. Our trips to the Camino have been motivated by a call of faith. This has not been a trumpet blast, but rather a more subtle sense of being lovingly guided. We choose to place ourselves on pilgrim roads to strengthen, and practice not only our faith, but also our humility. The journey's recompense is, hopefully, found in the incremental increase of love, wisdom, and courage sufficient for the journey Home. The restlessness Robin and I sense is the urgency to be closer to God, not just in thought or word but, more importantly, in deed. Walking pilgrim roads, in our experience, helps a great deal in this regard. It is simply where we feel we need to be, and want to be. BTW it is also a lot of fun.

Coincidentally, (but perhaps not) a hymn (Healing River of the Spirit) that was sung at mass this morning included (in part) these timely words.

Weary from the restless searching that has lured us from your side, we discover in your presence peace the world cannot provide.

All the world is torn by conflict; wars are raging at this hour. Saving Spirit move among us, guide our winding human course, till we find our way together, flowing homeward to our Source.

Finding our peace lies in finding the path to the inner door of our heart. In that interior silence we can awaken to a sacred space that enables us to hear the voice guiding us home to our Source. We just have to learn to listen. That is the hard part and, yes, it takes practice.

Peace, love, and buen camino,

John and Robin

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A good start to the day

I have always loved Willie Nelson's voice, and his music. This morning, over coffee, I found myself browsing music videos and came across some I really liked, so here they are. Enjoy!