Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sacred Ground

On my very first day of walking, on the plateau above Le-Puy-en-Velay
before reaching Saint Christophe sur Dolaison

"Standing on Holy Ground 
– all is Sacred and all is gift"

I was nervous on that very first climb out of Le Puy
as I had heard it was steep, and wasn't sure if my fitness would be found wanting.
I was so pleased to find all my pre-Chemin walks meant it proved to be not too daunting.
I soon found myself relaxing into the landscape of the plateau above Le Puy
filled with an immense happiness to be there
and hoping that weeks of walking in the outdoors lay ahead.
I was filled with reverence and joy.
Life just seemed like pure gift in those moments.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A journey that remains...

 arrow seen en route for Melide in the last days of my Camino
 "....suddenly it began to really hit me...
I was days from Santiago.  My epic was nearly over.  
Or so I thought at the time.  
Journeys like this...they stay with you, in you forever.  
Rather like having a child, 
you are never ever quite the same."


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On an unknown road

 Somewhere after Navarrenx, in the Basque country, nearing the Pyrenees

"I’d rather be stumbling along an unknown road
than safely cooped up in even the nicest cul-de-sac"

I loved walking down this wet path, under the shelter of trees dripping with the rain. It was refreshing and enlivening. And flat and easy- which was not to be the case on the chemin later in the day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love changes everything

Françoise and Roger on the plateau above Cahors on a very hot day

Love changes everything:
Hands and faces,
Earth and sky,
Love changes everything:
How you live and
How you die"

~Andrew Lloyd Webber
(see the whole song YouTube)

This was a day when I had a lot of contact with Françoise and Roger, and they turned out to be guardian angels. I had met them the previous evening in the convent at Vaylats where we shared the evening meal together. After lunch this day, I ran out of water in the unexpected heat. Somehow or other it seems that we met a local who discovered we were low on water... he returned and gave my angels some water. They ran in the heat to catch up to me to share the water...cold fresh water.... Their kindness in giving me the water was every bit as restorative as the water itself. 

I never saw Françoise and Roger again after this act of kindness: I would love to know how they got on, and if they reached Santiago... 

Monday, July 25, 2011

How can you explain?

 On the plateau above Le-Puy-en-Velay - on the first day of walking

"How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, 
and the hills and the sky?  
Anyone knows they are.  
How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, 
the rhythm of the day and the season 
instead of the hour and the minute?  
No, you cannot explain.  So you walk."

~Author unknown, from New York Times editorial, "The Walk," 25 October 1967

It was something very special, the frisson of joy that I knew as I walked into the countryside at the top of the climb out of Le Puy. All going well, I was embarking on something that would let me be a walker in the outdoors for weeks and weeks to come. 
I have just returned home from a Camino gathering in Hamilton: how good it was to be with a group of people who had also walked, and who understood, who didn't need an explanation about 'why' you would do such a thing...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Quote found on Picturing God website

Saturday, June 18, 2011

a significant journey

 My Camino shoes, all washed and scrubbed up for the journey home
-hopefully clean enough to get through our Kiwi quarantine checks-
somewhat more battered than when they started the journey.

“Every significant journey changes us in some way.  
We are hardly ever aware of this while we are in the midst of it.  
We may have hints and glimpses of these changes 
but it is only later, in looking back 
that we gasp in amazement at what was being formed and shaped in our lives.  
Only then do we recognize how a new attitude, 
a stronger dedication, 
and a fuller passion stretched us into the fullness of life.  
Then we are able to identify the journey’s ability 
to propel us into unexpected growth."

- Joyce Rupp Walk in a Relaxed Manner
 Seen on Andy's Pilgrimpace blog- thanks Andy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Small Beauty

"Look closely. The beautiful may be small."   
 ~ Immanuel Kant

A black slug on the Napoleon Route across the Pyrenees.
They seemed to live in thick black leaf detritus -under trees near the top of the pass-
that saturated my socks in black muck that took forever to rinse out!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

For Kay and Craig

'climb' in the Auvergne region
on the first day out of Le-Puy-en-Velay

(This post is especially for Kay and Craig 
who are both about to start walking from Le-Puy-en-Velay in the coming week.)

"Watch your way then, as a cautious traveler
and don't be gazing at that mountain
or river in the distance
and saying, "How shall I ever get over them?"
but keep to the present little inch that is before you
and accomplish that
in the little moment that belongs to it.
The mountain and the river can only be passed
in the same way
and when you come to them
you will come to the light and strength
that belong to them."

Found on the sidebar of Mary Pott's blog 'Landing on my Feet'
in honour of her daughter who died of cancer aged 18  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

 Church belltower in Galicia, on one of the last days of the walk to Santiago

"There are thoughts which are prayers. 
There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, 
the soul is on its knees." 

 ~Victor Hugo 
seen on Kelle Hampton's blog

Seeing a church tower in the sunlight always brought me joy
and made me think of all those who in centuries gone by
had walked to Santiago. 
...a moment of communion
thinking of the ever-flowing river of pilgrims...

Thursday, March 31, 2011


 my shadow on the descent from O'Cebreiro to the green of Galicia

"Shine through me and be in me 
so that every soul I come in contact with 
may feel your presence in my spirit."

~Blessed John Henry Newman
 quote found on Becky Eldredge's blog

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Glorious Dawn

  the landscape just past Astorga, early one morning following a thunderstorm

“Let the splendour of your glory dawn in our hearts.”

~Liturgy of the Hours 
 Quote from Picturing God Blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Everyday miracles

A few of the many wildflowers seen beside the path en route for Rabanal del Camino

“Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.”

~John O’Donohue

h/t: quote seen on the Picturing God blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011


 Spring appearing on the descent from the Aubrac Plateau

"Courage doesn't always roar. 
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice 
at the end of the day saying, 
"I will try again tomorrow." 

~Mary Anne Radmacher

Occasionally there were 'hard days' on the Camino.
One such day was the first day of crossing the Aubrac Plateau when I got so wet and cold. 
It wasn't the wet and cold that was so hard, it was the fact I was walking alone in those conditions, 
and knew there was a chance of becoming hypothermic, alone. 

So the next morning, I had to 'make myself' walk on.... 
I had to take my own courage by the scruff of the neck 
and walk on for the second day of the Aubrac crossing. 
And at the end of the day as I descended from the Plateau to a lower altitude,
even though I felt exhausted
there was the joy of seeing the world around me
change into early spring...

Friday, February 25, 2011

With respect

 cross seen in countryside on first day's walk out from Le-Puy-en-Velay

"Can I see another's woe, and not be in sorrow too? 
Can I see another's grief, and not seek for kind relief "
~William Blake

With sadness, thinking of those who died in the Christchurch earthquake
February 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Instruct ourselves... in joy...

en route for Aumont-Aubrac

               "It is what I was born for - 
                      to look, to listen,

to lose myself
    inside this soft world -
              to instruct myself
                     over and over

in joy
   and acclamation.
      Nor am I talking
          about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
    the very extravagant -
       but of the ordinary,
           the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations."

~Mary Oliver
from the poem, 'Mindful'

It seemed like quite a long day from Les Faux to Aumont-Aubrac,
and when I checked my e-mail for the first time since leaving Paris
there was some sad, hard news about a family at home.

But even though it seemed like a bit of a dull, even difficult day,
the sun still came out 
to leave the shadow of this tree on the ground
a quiet bit of joy to notice.

Monday, February 7, 2011


trees with spring leaves, seen when approaching Figeac

"I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
     as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some
    shining coil of wind,
    or a few leaves from any old tree-
        they are all in this too."

~Mary Oliver
in the poem 'Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?'

One of the lasting legacies of the Camino for me has been this looking:-
 looking and noticing details in the world outdoors around me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sacred Ground

nearing the Orisson gite on a flatter section of the climb over the Pyrenees

'Any place is sacred ground, 
for it can become a place of encounter with the Divine Presence.'

"These words from Br. David Steindl-Rast, appeared on the 'Word for the Day' on the website on New Year's Day this year. Wonderful words for the beginning of the year, they reminded me that I can stand on sacred ground and meet God anywhere.
When I am aware of God's presence, I am not only filled with gratitude, but I learn to treat others with reverence and respect."

~John Dew         Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion

Woman who had walked from Brittany, relaxing in Ostabat,
"I have just three things to teach: 
simplicity, patience, compassion. 
These three are your greatest treasures. 
Simple in actions and in thoughts, 
you return to the source of being. 
Patient with both friends and enemies, 
you accord with the way things are. 
Compassionate toward yourself, 
you reconcile all beings in the world."

(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67)
This French woman who I met in Ostabat was persevering despite great pain in her feet. 
I never saw her again after SJPP where I took an extra rest day. I hope she made it to Santiago, either on this walk or at a later time. She had walked pretty much alone until Bordeaux when she had met a pair of women walking, one of whom was seriously sight-impaired. 
The three walked together, helping each other. They were an inspiration.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Solitary Walking

 arrow someone has made in stone at a crossroads in routes
heading for Astorga on the beautiful, less-peopled 'countryside' option from Hospital de Orbigo

"How many of us are completely at ease with our own thoughts, 
comfortably at home in our own minds and bodies?
I know I'm not always in this ideal state. 
Far from it. 
So solitary walking gives me the chance to explore a little 
the murky depths of my own mind, 
to clear some weeds from the muddy pool of my unconscious, 
to sort out my ideas and beliefs, 
to shine a little light into my soul, 
to reflect on God and the nature of life, death and the universe. 
And, with luck, to meet up with some interesting people, 
and enjoy a few beers with them along the Way..."

on his Solitary Walker blog

Robert has many reflections on walking you might want to check out,
as well as accounts of the varied walking journeys he has made.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Flowers of the Camino

Flowers seen beside the path nearing San Martin del Camino, 
after a long hot day's walk, mostly near highway, out of Leon.

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
—Henri Matisse
 Quote found on 'Picturing God' website

On my last night in Santiago I had a very special conversation 
with a Frenchman I had met a few times along the Camino.
He had always struck me as a prayerful, reflective man, full of wisdom,
who thought a lot about others. 
(I was surprised though to find him on the altar of the Cathedral in Santiago as a deacon!)

In our last conversation
he told me that I was 'une fleur du camino'
-a flower of the Camino. 
But he also gently said that a flower sometimes has to die to make a seed.

His words and his love have always remained within me.

A Long Walk

 Countryside near Saugues on the Le Puy route

"What on earth has happened to me 
in these 5 years since my first Camino? 
Then I simply decided to go for a long walk 
but of course I discovered as we all do 
that as well as the physical act of walking 
which is deeply meditative, 
the simplicity of the way of life, 
the friendship of strangers 
and the beauty of the countryside 
are actually a powerful spiritual brew."

Pilgrimage and Church

 Church in the village of Gaillac, as seen soon after leaving Cajarc

"Above all I suppose the experience opens my mind to God 
in ways which Church never does. 
Increasingly I’ve become bothered again by aspects of Church: 
by the lack of caring, the focus on power, 
the marginalisation of women inevitable in a male dominated organisation 
and the pompous self regard of many leaders. 
Now I find these feelings fading and taking on a new perspective. 
When I rage about it I want to take them all, Pope included, on pilgrimage. 
I realise I can only take myself."

~Johnnie Walker