Epiphanies

An angel poking the three kings, don’t you just love this concept? To say nothing of the three Kings as bedfellows. Perhaps travelling together meant they had to rough it a bit. I wish an angel would poke the conscience of Theresa May and her bed fellows and open their eyes. ‘Oy you, leave it out!’

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Bringing the Camino Home

Bringing the Camino home, is also about returning. Even the planning, the anticipation is life enhancing, releasing the desire to write about it. Giving time to other pilgrims is a way of saying thank you not only for the very positive experience of walking but for all the blessings bestowed on us along the Camino.

We haven’t returned to Spain in four long years either as tourists or pilgrims, but plan to return in April 2018 to finish the Camino and serve a turn in Miraz the albergue run by the Confraternity of St James.

Four years ago we began walking the pilgrimage to Santiago along the coastal path, the Camino Del Norte and relished the dramatic views and the towns we passed. We took time to enjoy the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the pavement cafes in San Sebastián as we walked through, intending to revisit in tourist mode some time. At Oviedo we got the train forward to Santiago for a stint as hospitalero in the Camino Fin Del Camino. It coincided with the Feast of St. James, a joyous time to be in Santiago and enjoy the singing and dancing of groups from all round the world. Sadly, that was 2013 the year the rail tragedy cost many lives.

The atmosphere of sadness as the news spread through the thronging square that was prepared for fireworks and partying is hard to forget. So too the dignified return home or to the hospital to offer to donate blood, of the many who had gathered there. One thing is sure. Nothing is certain in this life.

Bringing the Camino Home

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Walking my first Camino was a liberating and a creative experience. The physical activity, the spiritual dimension, the beauty of the place and the encounters with other pilgrims’ daily, if not hourly, kindnesses all played a part. For me, as it does for many, it led to writing.
Since then I have written consistently, publishing short stories and blogging.
My first book, Murielle’s Angel, a novel based on my own experiences of walking the Camino Frances, was published four years ago.
Now a second novel, ‘Honeymoon’ is about to be published.

Ostensibly, ‘Honeymoon’has nothing at all to do with the Camino or Spain, but the creativity and learning to trust myself and the universe certainly is thanks to the Camino.

If we do one good thing

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Simplistic I know in light of recent events in Paris to think that the world could be saved by kindness, but doing something bad daily is certainly a downward spiral.

Random acts  satisfy fleetingly. Perhaps a concerted effort, an orchestrated effort, is more the thing.

How effective the effort in Paris! Sad the force of evil has the upper hand.

Vision

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In our small town and outlying villages, as in many round the world, there are good people. People on a mission, people whose aim  is not just random acts of kindness, but a long term force for good. This is not grandiose.  They work for the good of their community and incidentally, almost by default, for the larger world.  Perhaps a long winded way of saying these are people with vision: a vision of life and a vision of the world. Surely every act impinges one on another? One person’s gentle ministrations influence another’s as surely as one person’s violence or unkindness.  But I am thinking more of leaders of men, instigators.  In fact, I am thinking of Stan.

In the few years we have lived here, quietly adjusting from city to country life,  a 20 mile sponsored walk in aid of Barnados has been an annual event.  A sucker for such walks since school days. The walk is in its 20th year and has raised in excess of £200,000, thanks to Stan and a whole team of volunteers who make cakes for rest stations, marshal, lead , offer first aid, do the paper work.  It started with 27 people. This year, a bumper year, 230 took part.

The walk’s fame is spreading;  a tough walk, no amble along a canal tow path,  but  serious hill and mountain walking in and around the Rhinogs in Snowdonia National Park.  It is also family friendly, designed to custom fit all takers. Every five miles or so a rescue station offers  a lift back to the start point ( as well as  cakes and tea.) This year there was  the option to short cut the serious mountain climb, the more challenging challenge, (which I opted for but Sunny boy didn’t), thereby losing the hardest five miles but still giving the walker a stiff, satisfying 15 miler.

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Many locals walk too, those who aren’t manning the stations, whose ordinary day jobs, plumbers, builders, waitresses, hoteliers, run the town, alongside their role in the voluntary community:  mountain rescuer, lifeboatman (person), first responder.

An evening of jollity follows: a meal and an opportunity for more fundraising – a raffle; a shove a pound coin along the floor towards a bottle of whiskey ( donated) to see who gets the closest competition. Nice to see  faces rosy from a day of exertion outdoors in wind and sun (no rain this year)