Support of Purpose

Puente Pamplona


“Before setting out, remind yourself of the purpose of your journey. From now on, there is no such thing as a neutral act, an empty thought, an aimless day. Travels become sacred by the depths of their contemplations.” The Art of Pilgrimage, page 69

Upon seeing this quote, I asked myself the What If question: What if the purpose of my pilgrimage is to Walk LIghtheartedly and with a Joyful Spirit? And, what if I remind myself of this purpose “before setting out” each day?

I am discovering that this can be quite powerful, and quite a gift. As I bring to mind my purpose, it sets the tone for my day. It establishes a sort-of home base, to which I can return whenever I stray, depending upon how much I get drawn into the circumstances of my day.

To the extent that I can actually, and authentically, live into my purpose as I walk through my day, it can be a gift for others. It may brighten their day.

I can feel the support of my purpose as I walk.

How can your purpose support you today?

Choosing My Attitude

Obanos Church


“The question, as always, is what your attitude is towards these awkward moments, these radically disappointing moments in life.” The Art of Pilgrimage, page 142.

I’ve been called to Walk Lightheartedly and with a Joyful Spirit on my pilgrimage, and I’ve been committed to that practice for the last month, since that invitation was inspired through me.

Given that commitment, what is the invitation in those inevitable “radically disappointing moments of life”? Those human moments that we are all familiar with. Those ones like the ones I’ve had today.
My first life coach told me that “Disappointment takes adequate planning,” which I thought was ingenious. It’s a brain twister, but a truth as well.

However, I also feel that it is impossible to live without expectations, as much as we might try to release all of them. And so, ipso facto, some disappointment is inevitable too.

All of the Camino memoirs that I have read so far have spoken to expectations and disappointment in some form. But they have also offered a powerful antidote, and that is the one and only thing that any of us really have any meaningful control over: our response to our experiences and circumstances.

So, today, I am actively and consciously choosing my attitude towards whatever comes my way. It’s my pilgrimage quest for the day.  It takes some practice, and it demands my faithful commitment to my choice, so as not to slip down the slippery slope of the indulgence of feeling sorry for myself or the folly of having that conversation in my head about how unfair life can be, or how it should be different in some way.

And, so far, it is working. Attention, dear brain, please note the powerful freedom of choice. 🙂

My Pilgrimage Practice

Obanos Portal


“In each of us dwells a pilgrim that longs to have direct contact with the sacred. This is the way that is no way, but a practice.”  The Art of Pilgrimage, page 92

The practice, for me, is showing up, listening, paying attention. It’s really that simple.

But there are also practical commitments that help me be in the practice.

Every morning, after my breakfast, I imagine that I am getting ready to walk the pilgrimage trail for the day.

In preparation, I do a brief meditation and I sense any guidance or inspiration that is given to me to guide me in my day.

Then I check in, by asking some simple questions, along the lines of “What’s up with me today?” Where am I, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, right now?

I make some brief notes in my journal.

Then, just before I set off for the day, I do some brief responsive writing in my journal. This only takes a few minutes, maybe ten. But it is essential and powerful for me because it sets my tone for the day.

I use the following prompts to do some automatic writing:
•    I love…
•    I appreciate…
•    I’m eager about….
These quick jottings ground me in the spirit of how I want to be.

And then, I begin my walk for the day. Virtually, of course.

In the evenings, I draw something from the Camino that has captured my attention and imagination.

And, finally, when I have time, i read personal memoirs from Camino pilgrims.

I close my day with a deep feeling of appreciation for my pilgrimage, and a powerful connection, in Spirit, to the Camino.

The Soul Knows


“His search exemplifies the force that can well up from below, from the soul, over a period of time, the desire to move toward the wellspring that will rejuvenate us.” Written about John Borton, in The Art of Pilgrimage, page 193.

This interior pilgrimage is rejuvenating me. It is giving me a focus, an intention, a reason to stop, check in, and pay deeper attention to the detail of my life, and I have found that to be tremendously rejuvenating.

It is inviting me to listen for the constant whispers of my soul, as it speaks through quiet inspiration.

It is calling me to walk “lightheartedly and with a joyful spirit,” and that way of being in the world is a wellspring that rejuvenates me.

What is the wellspring that you are moving towards, that will rejuvenate you? Your soul knows.

The Freedom of Release

Cizur Menor


Today, I am feeling the freedom of release.

I’m consciously breathing deeply and sensing the fullness of anticipation in the air, the crispness of the wind, the surprises that await me in the colors of the day.

I’m simply allowing myself to feel the freedom of just walking. Of just being present in this moment. Of knowing that all is well right now, and that I will be given what I need as I go along.

This feeling, I notice, is available to me always, as I release my pre-formed expectations of how my day ought to play out.

And this release isn’t a tipping point, or a permanent thing. Rather, it is a practice that I commit to, every day, as I get up and walk.

Why I Walk



“True pilgrimage changes lives, whether we go halfway around the world or in our own backyards.” The Art of Pilgrimage, page 88

This is why I walk. The presence required in the act of walking changes me.

It changes my quality of attention, to my experience and to my life.

It changes my willingness, and my readiness, and my commitment to pay attention.

It makes me aware of my intentions.

It awakens my senses.

It enlivens and energizes me.

It demands a fuller level of engagement from me.

Any journey, consciously taken, changes us, whether or not we realize it when we begin. It’s an opportunity to come alive.

The Same Day

Long View


In many of the memoirs I’m reading, there is some point for the pilgrim that they acutely feel the monotony of the walk. Every day, they get up and walk. And walk. And walk.

This is something that I really don’t face in the same way on my virtual pilgrimage.

However, it occurs to me that all of us have aspects of repetition in our lives, and I don’t know about you, but that is a point where can tend to go to sleep in my life.

We travel the same route to work every day. We have the same routine when we arise every day. We generally follow a repetitive pattern at night, after work, or when we are preparing meals.

Routines and habits are tremendously useful in our lives, except when they aren’t. 🙂

I can get in a sort of a trance state as I go through these repetitive motions of every day.  And I stop noticing. I stop tuning into my senses. I go to sleep to my life.

I stop noticing that the leaves on the trees look different today than they did yesterday. Or that the quality of the sky is incredibly different today. Or the toothpaste tastes different to me this morning. It isn’t the same day today, even in the routines.

It’s a slippery slope. When I go to sleep in any aspect of my life, I can miss so many opportunities to really engage with the miracles, of my life, through all of my senses.

I can miss the life of my life.

I never know when there will be a miracle, and, in one sense, it’s all a miracle.

I don’t want to miss it.

The Appreciation Buffet

Pamplona Gate

“There are a multitude of ways you can cultivate a sense of gratitude.” The Art of Pilgrimage, page 205

This is the gate to the city of Pamplona, Spain.

In the memoirs I have been reading about the Camino, all pilgrims seem to mention the immense sense of gratitude that they feel upon reaching the gate of a city, or the outskirts of a city that is their destination for the day. This special threshold heralds the upcoming proximity of the albergue, or pilgrimage hostel, their shelter and respite for the night.

I spoke of Waking Up in my last blog post, and I realized that one of my favorite ways to Wake Up to my life is what I call the Appreciation Buffet.

I carve out 10 or 15 minutes in my day to sit down and reflect on all the things that immediately come to mind, in that moment, that I appreciate.

These are things that are really easy to appreciate, and the key for me is that I can easily feel (italics) a strong feeling of appreciation when I focus on them.

Things on my list: my dog Cinnamon making snow angels or how the light shining through my stained glass panels enlivens them.

I don’t just create a list. It doesn’t matter if there are only one or two things on the list. It matters that these are powerful things for me, and that they evoke that full, wonderful feeling of great and deep appreciation.

Visiting the Appreciation Buffet wakes me up the abundance that is my life.

The Art of Waking Up

Puente Pamplona


“One of the functions of a pilgrimage is to wake us from our slumber.” The Art of Pilgrimage, page 181

My pilgrimage has been a huge gift in so many ways, but perhaps the greatest is that it is waking me from my slumber.

It is waking me from my slumber of going through the motions, through my days, especially in the repetition of tasks: washing dishes, taking the dogs out, brushing my teeth.

It is waking me up to my full senses, to color and form and miracles.

It is waking me up to my lightheartedness and my joyful spirit.

It is waking me up to the fullness of my life.

Feeling the Presence of Place

View fr Camino

“He said he wanted to feel the presence of the place.” Art of Pilgrimage, page 183
So many Camino memoirs speak to feeling the presence of the place. This level of engagement seems to be an essential and universal experience of pilgrimage.

I had a palpable feeling of the presence of place the first time I set foot on the five acres that I now call my home. It was the first time I remember feeling that presence of a place.

Now, this is a commitment of mine: I want to sense the presence of a place. It is what connects me to it. It is what makes me share in the aliveness and vitality of the place.

This is particularly important to me on my pilgrimage, and since this is a virtual pilgrimage, the way that I am trying to tune into the presence of the Camino is by reading memoirs and especially by drawing the place, from photographs. This helps me tune into the feeling of the presence of this powerful place and to share in the energy of its power.


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