“Pilgrimage” ~ Or Just on A Long Walk

Somewhere I read, ¨If your dreams don´t scare you they aren´t big enough!¨

Pilgrimage is described a journey of moral or spiritual significance usually to a distant location.  I like to think that all of us are on a pilgrimage, this journey called life, which leads us through many sacred and not so sacred places to our final destination back to where we began with our Creator. Sometimes our steps are mindful and yet other times we are basically sleep walking day in and day out not giving much thought to where we’re going. When we quiet our minds and hearts we can hear the quiet voice of God and He is saying, “Come follow Me.”

The difference for me between talking a very long hike and making a pilgrimage is the intention of  letting go of ordinary every day life, with all the noise and distractions and following the call to follow the Lord.   For me walking, although physically, mentally and even emotionally challenging, is a way to feel a keen awareness that God is Near!  For the last several days we have been walking up and down the  beautiful Pyrenees Mountain which is physically challenging  and for two of the past two days it has been raining. It may seem crazy for most people but for us it is very special time in our lives and a special place.  As we  “Follow the Call” to live in the present moment, we are grateful for each breath and every step. We don´t take it for granted. This time we haven´t met anyone older than us or we have not met any other Americans hiking. It is escpecially challenging because we are carrying our backpacks but it is still an amazing experience that we would not change for anything.   On the Camino we meet people from all around the world who are kind and generous in spirit and like us they want to draw closer to God and to live a life that reflects love and peace.  With each step I pray, Lord, have mercy on our world help me to show your love to others that they might know you and live in peace.¨

P:S: It is very difficult to get internet access to write a blog post. If I were able to write from my IPhone it would be easy but not posible for me. It may be many days between posts. Thank you for your interest and for your prayers. We are praying for you as well.

“Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”  Hebrews 12: 12-13

Buen Camino!

A Simple Path

After a two week “rain delay” or more accurately a 7 mm kidney stone and lipotripsy procedure, John and I are back on track to begin a hiking and backpacking pilgrimage across Europe.

Most of our friends tell us there isn’t any way they could be gone for two and a half month living out of a fifteen pound backpack. I think, “Who wouldn’t like to take a second honeymoon through Europe with their soulmate?” The way I look at it, we’re studying abroad for the summer semester of our “senior year”. It’s a simple path, a journey of faith, filled with great adventure and mostly celebrating love. Like most folks our age, after graduating from college we got married, began careers, bought a house and started a family. “Back in the day” no one I knew traveled abroad.

Now at this stage of our lives, John has planned a trip of a lifetime just for us. Seriously, when someone you love offers you a gift are you going to tell them it’s totally impractical????? NO!!!! Not this wife!  I began to think, “Why not???” The last ten, twenty even forty years where have they gone? I don’t want to look back in five years and say to myself, “It was something we’d always talked about doing but I was too practical, and yes, maybe even too scared to go!” It’s now or never.

My one requirement, John needed to clear it with his cardiologist. In 2008 John had five by-passes but within the next year, he ran the Peachtree Road Race and the Marine Corp Marathon. That being said, I still get concerned when it comes to his heart issues. Following an EKG, stress test, and a 24 hour heart monitor, I asked his doctor point blank, “If this was your father, would you give him the green light him to hike across the Pyrenees with a 25 lb. backpack?” Dr. Mathew’s response, “Yes, take me with you!” When we returned home that day, John called and made our plane reservations. Then he started to work on the itinerary. There’s no turning back, not heart, not kidney stones, not knee pain can stop this man.

Tomorrow we’ll lock the front door, leave the comforts of our home, drop off our beloved twelve year old golden retriever, Murphy, at our daughter’s house, and head out with packs and prayers. Because of our two week “rain delay”, we will begin our pilgrimage in Lourdes, France, hiking approximately twenty four days (rather than our original 38) through what is considered some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Europe, crossing the Pyrenees Mountains then on to Burgos, Spain. This is an eastern portion of the ancient Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage, which has many different routes throughout Europe. (We hiked the entire 500 miles Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain in 2012.) After we reach Burgos we’ll travel to Barcelona and then train back through France to LePuy. This is where we had originally planned to start but instead will end this leg of our trek here with Mass and a blessing from the local bishop. Flexibility is a must on a pilgrimage! From this point forward we’ll travel by rail through ten countries staying in small guesthouses, pensions, and hotels along the way. September will find us traveling through scenic villages from Budapest to Amsterdam. Finally to complete our adventure we’ll “Chunnel” to London and spend a few days with my cousin and his wife, Mike and Kathy, before returning home.

…..A simple path across an ancient trail, a journey of faith, to live in the moment with God’s protection, “Soulmates-Solemates” counting our blessings along the way…..

We hope that you will pray for us as we will be praying for you as well.   Let the adventure begin!

Buen Camino

A Journey of Faith

“A Curve in the Path is Not the End of the Road”

Well, I could start by saying, “Que Sera, Sera” or “A curve is not the end of the road”.  What I choose to say is, “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord.” Romans 8:28.

Now that being said, we were scheduled to depart for a  three month backpacking adventure including a 500 mile pilgrimage across France and Spain on Tuesday, July 7. However, a few days ago my “solemate” was diagnosed with a 7mm kidney stone that needs to be blasted to smithereens  and two week recoup before we depart.

Ok,  so we are a little disappointed BUT oh so grateful that it happened in the good old USA where we can speak the language, have the best medical facilities and  last BUT certainly not the least, medical insurance. Rather than boarding a plane for Paris, my “soulmate” will be ushered into the ER next week.  Probably will cost a lot more than our trip across Europe on $5 a day. (I think that was back in the 50s).   All in all I think we are VERY blessed, easy for me to say,  I’m not having my kidneys blasted.

If all goes well with the patient, our trip will be postponed by two weeks.  With the help of meds, we are still planning on hiking 14 miles on July 4th to celebrate the Annual Peachtree Road Race which is our tradition.   We enjoy walking from our car to the start and finish, then walking back to the start and to our car stopping at the Mellow Mushroom for a slice of pizza and a beer. Life is short what can I say? What people do in Atlanta to get a T-shirt.

Happy 4th of July!!!!!

God bless our servicemen and women and PLEASE GOD Bless America and protect us from all the crazy people! We really need it!!!!