Which way?

EDIT Yo Soy El CaminoRecently I listened to a podcast from The Commonwealth Club that truly captivated my mind and spirit. In this particular episode, Krista Tippett, the host of On Being was interviewed by Rev. Alan Jones. It was spectacular, so much so that I am on my second listen.

There are so many things that I am pondering about this episode, but the entire undercurrent for me is questioning who we are and where we are headed as a people. This has been on my mind already because I have been so deeply unhappy about our political situation at large. The program got me thinking further about which way I think we are headed.

One of the topics addressed by Tippett was the development of inner and outer lives, and how material wealth and poverty drive those lives – or don’t drive them. Of course, the cultivation of inner lives is not something truly valued in our American culture. I suppose that is why we value Continue reading

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Wait – what?

photoHot, huffing, and puffing, I was four days into my camino. Strangely enough, my knees were not bothering me nearly as much as I imagined they would, nor were my legs too sore, but I was dogged by blisters. And by the overstimulated exhaustion that can come about in the pursuit of a dream. Four days in, I was still a Camino Santiago neophyte without a clue.

Making it to the top of Alto del Perdon was no joke. It was not as steep as it was to get from St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson, nor was as long and hard as it was to keep going uphill from there on the way to Roncesvalles. It was however hot! And again, those blisters. Ouchie. Anyway, making it to the top of Alto del Perdon was also a glorious moment – what a famous spot for those who know the Way of St. James! It is the place where the “the path of the wind meets the path of the stars.” In a word – magical.

Alto Sue Fran DeeanneLike most matters of faith, the high is often followed by a challenge. So consumed was I with getting up Alto del Perdon, I gave little thought to getting down. An essential camino lesson for me was this – going down is often far worse than going up. As we began our descent, my weariness gave way to an overwhelming anxiety with each footfall on the steep and rocky path. In fact, I felt certain that I might not be able to get down. I simply believed that I could not do it. And you know where that kind of thinking gets you.

nicodemus nightIn today’s Gospel from John, Nicodemus pays a visit to Jesus. At night. I love this imagery, poor old Nicodemus sneaking into see Jesus under the cover of darkness. It is a real struggle for Nicodemus to understand what it means to be “born again” and to be “born of the Spirit.” Here he is wrestling, like anyone who is inclined to being too literal, wondering how a “man once grown old” gets back into the womb to be born again. As usual, Jesus is trying to tell him. Jesus speaks to us in ways that leave us no place to go but deep into our hearts. Our literal and practical heads won’t allow us to understand, although our literal, practical – you know, our “realistic” heads – the ones that we value in the material world. Overvalue, it would seem.  Nicodemus is basically saying, “Wait – what?” Continue reading

Ready or not

am-i-ready-to-face-fears-of-starting-my-own-b-L-f3xoBw24 days, but who’s counting?  Hah. I am. How do I feel? In a word? Terrified. In a phrase, suddenly completely vulnerable and totally unprepared.

Yet, the day is coming, and on that day, we will be going.

If you have not seen the movie The Way, I recommend it. From what I am told it fluctuates starting with wildly inaccurate –  things like who walks on impulse, using someone else’s pack, and wearing jeans? And why don’t people have blisters? Then it becomes apparently quite believable – the walking and walking, the Camino families that form, the daily grind of walking, and the incredible grace and gift of doing just that.

Either way, at this point I am awash in self-doubt, terror, fear, and imagining all sorts of ways that I will be unprepared. This seems to be a most necessary step and invitation of being a peregrina on The Way.

(Note: before I wrote this, I had a terrible week for walking. A multitude of reasons had me less than active. Interestingly enough I got in 4 miles this morning, all before 6:30am. And I feel *slightly* less terrified!)

Keep on walking

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Yes, that is my foot, yes that is my hiking boot.

Hi! Worst blogger ever has returned for a brief moment. Time is not on my side when it comes to writing right now. In fact, I should be outside right now, but here I am in the non-walking position, and that means I am writing!

Five weeks from today I will – well, God willing as we say around here – will head north to Montreal. From there, Sue and I will get on a plane and fly to Paris. Camino Santiago, here we come! Yet, five weeks seems both an incredibly long time, and an incredibly short time. Long in the sense that I have a lot of training in front of me, and short in the sense that I have so much to do before I leave. Every day I am faced with the need to walk the walk. Talk is cheap, walk – not so much. I simply have to keep on walking.

There are many things I would love to write about, like the mass readings. In today’s Gospel we hear for the zillionth time that we need to be forgiving. Talk really is cheap, isn’t it? Last night I dreamed of an old friend, a person that I find it nearly impossible to forgive. Old childhood wounds and disappointments remain tender, more recent challenges burn white hot at times, erupting and taking me by surprise. Last night she crossed my mind as I was cleaning up after dinner, and she turns up in my dream. Wow God you are persistent, aren’t you?

In the dream we were both tentative and amicable, until Hillary Clinton showed up. Was she with us? Or on TV or a device? Oh wispy dreams, I cannot grasp your tendrils and remember. Anyway, there she was and before anything could erupt, my old friend said that we could not discuss politics. I felt total relief, instead of my typical urge to pick at the wound of disagreement. Then I awakened! Poof, dream over. Five minutes later I am drowsy and reading the Gospel about forgiveness. Talk is so cheap, ridiculously so and yest even at that price I can’t even talk theoretical forgiveness with this friend. What about walking? Can I walk forgiveness? It seems hardly possible.

Jesus tells us we must forgive in this way:

“I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

And I can barely keep count of reps when I exercise, or even laps around my neighborhood – how do I do this?

How many miles must I Continue reading

Poems, pilgrimage, perspective

Worlds End .JPGLast Saturday, after walking past a sign with a vaguely dystopian message, my Camino Santiago partner and friend, Sue and I entered the forest. The first part of our journey was a bit more arduous than either of us had imagined.  It grew clear to me that the sign was more descriptive than vague! Where were we and what had we gotten ourselves into in the name of camino preparation, or as we cool kids of the internet like to say, #caminoprep.

The hike offered great perspective on many things, but a few stand out in stark detail. One being that it seemed like the world’s end due to the steep, sharp, gravity defying trails that we traversed, clad as we were in our camino gear, complete with heavy packs on our back. My imagination, which runs like a super high definition camera when pondering possible fates, usually terrifying ones, was on overdrive as I imagined my short, stout body tipping backwards and rolling down the rocky trail to an early end. Obviously I am alive, but on Saturday I was not sure I would remain so!

Despite choosing a #caminoprep run that was way beyond our technical hiking skill, Sue and I ended up loving so much of what we saw at Worlds End State Park. Continue reading

Pilgrim update

cropped-singlestepheader32It has been awhile since I have posted anything about my camino, so I thought I would pop in with an update, and to ask about any prayers or intentions you would like to send to me.

At this moment in time we are about 200 days out from departure, give or take. That number sounds comfortingly far away at some level, and terrifyingly close at another level! The good news is that I have been much more active this winter than any prior winter. The bad news is that I am not sure I have been active enough, but I’m trying. Today I did about 7.5 miles and 19 flights of stairs. What worries me is 7.5 miles with a 15 pound pack on my back!

One of my biggest concerns, and this could be the dealbreaker, will be Continue reading