The secret place

She’d walked around the lonely house, going clockwise.  She knew better than to go widdershins.  That way lay madness, and she didn’t need any help there.

The house was closed for renovations for a month at least.  It wasn’t exactly off the tour, but you still had to get a ticket to go on the grounds.  It wasn’t far from the main house, the star of the show, but it was far enough to not attract attention.  It was perfect for walking alone with her own thoughts.  They were loud enough as it was.

She’d rounded the back and discovered the sundial.  Set in concrete, it was an anomaly.  It spoke of other residents, from other times.  It spoke of people past those named on the placards out front, in the public area.  She jotted down the names and dates in her sketchbook and continued on down the ramshackle brick path.

How many of these bricks were original?  How many were replacements?  She suspected nobody who worked here could tell, but she could.  She could feel it, sure as if the bricks spoke out loud to her, told her of the day they were made, showed her the hands that had removed them from their molds.

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She knew more than she should tell.

Perhaps she should have been an archaeologist, gotten paid to do what came naturally.  She could speak to the ghosts of a place, know the history, the story. Sometimes they spoke quietly.  Sometimes they were very loud. Like now.

One brick stuck out.  Perhaps it was the shadows at that time of day that helped. There was something magical about the hour before sunset, when the colors deepened and the shadows got longer.  Things became visible that were overlooked before.  It wasn’t as if they weren’t there.  It was more like they simply blended in before.  But now, in this magic time, there was an aura around them to those who had eyes to see.

It didn’t take long to decide to check.

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The brick came up easily, quickly.  It wanted to be moved.

But what was inside?

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The shadows that had helped her “see” the place rendered the cache almost invisible.  A closer look was required.

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She still could not tell.  But her sense had never been wrong before.  She’d have to come another time, earlier, or with a small flashlight.  Or perhaps a trowel.  There was more than meets the eye here, she knew it.

It would hold its secret well until then.  She had no fear of that.  It had waited this long for her.  It could wait another week.

 

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Camino

Come with me on a journey.  This is the Camino de Santiago – the Way of Saint James.  It is a path across Spain that points towards the final resting place of Jesus’ beloved apostle James.

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Buckaroo Banzai said “Wherever you go, there you are.” But in this case, wherever you are is where you start.  Each journey starts in your heart, when you first hear about this pilgrimage path.  It begins with the call to walk it, to imagine yourself being there, walking for a week at a minimum, or even for months.

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Some take a plane to get to the starting point.  Some take a bus, or a train, or a taxi.  Some simply walk out of their front door – as the pilgrims in medieval times did.  Their journeys were always double – for they had to walk back home as well.     They followed the Milky Way, as it stretches west to east along the path.  In fact, it is said that there were stars above the grave of Saint James, showing where he was hidden during the times of the Moorish (Islamic) conquest of Spain.

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The path is an inner conquest today – an opportunity to remember to unite with God in all things, that we cannot do it all by ourselves, a chance to remember to carry little and trust much.   But then, a thousand years ago, the path was a way of re-claiming Spain for Christ.  Saint James is also known as “Matamoros” – The Moor-Slayer.

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We must remember that we can walk this journey with others.   It is good to share the messages that God has given you to others.  They too may be called on the same path.  God wants us to work together.  We were not made to be alone.

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Sometimes the journey is difficult.  It is uphill, on loose ground.  Our footing is suspect.

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Sometimes we may think we have lost our way.

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Yet keep going – there will always be a sign or someone to point the way.

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And the best advice?

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(All pictures are from Pinterest)

An Autumn Wander

Did you know that you can go on a Wander without even leaving your home?  Wandering is something that is internal, not external.  Plenty of people go on walks that aren’t Wanders.   They go to get somewhere, or something.  They walk just for exercise, or to catch the bus for school or work, or to visit a friend who lives up the street.  But Wanders are different.

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You Wander when you don’t have a particular place to go, or even a direction.

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Your heart leads you – not a map or a compass.

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Turning and returning is the same.  You aren’t in a hurry.  You don’t need to rush.

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Slowing down, we can take the time to really see what is there – not what we think is there.

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Slowing down, we can feel with all our senses.  We can smell the leaves. We can touch the flowers.  We can delight in the many colors our eyes notice.  We can hear all that is around us.

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Perhaps more importantly, when we slow down, we can finally hear all that is within us.

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“Solvitur Ambulando” – “It is solved by walking.” – said Diogenes. Thoreau repeated it.  Walking solves a lot of things that concern us – inside and out.

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But be sure to walk slowly.  Savor.  Saunter.  Amble.  Mosey.  Don’t be in a hurry, or you’ll miss the whole point of the walk.

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Just go.  Trust.  Be out in the wilderness of your heart.  Know that you are safe, wherever you are.  Listen to the still small voice inside.  It will never lead you astray.

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So many of us have forgotten the sound of our own voice. So many of us have forgotten who we are.

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There is hope!   You aren’t lost.  Your voice is quietly waiting for you to seek it again.

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On your Wander, you can practice being You again – the You that got forgotten, or ignored, or pushed aside for the rest of the world.

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On a Wander, you finally have the time and space to be the person you’ve always wanted to be – Yourself.

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(All photos are from Pinterest, and are copyright to their respective owners.)

Sea Star

The Starfish is now called  a “Sea Star” because it is not a fish.  But it is also not a star.

Does it matter what we call something?  Does that change what it is?

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What about people?  Are you a different person when you change your name – through marriage, adoption, gender reassignment, or other major life event?

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Or are you simply solidifying a truth?  Perhaps by changing your name, you are making the outside match the inside.  Perhaps by asking others to call you something else, you are saying to them that you are someone else, now.

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Some names are given to us.  Some are nicknames that are not so nice.  Some are names that represent a truth that we are not willing (or ready) to acknowledge. Some tell more about the giver of the name than the person they are naming.

You do not have to accept a name that you do not like.  You do not have to answer to what someone else calls you if it does not harmonize with who you truly are.

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Perhaps Western culture would benefit from people being allowed to choose new names for themselves. Just like we grow into and out of styles of expression with our choice of clothing or music or books we read – we should be able to change our names without it being unusual.

What name would you pick for yourself if you could do so?  What name (s) have been given to you by others that you would rather forget?  What is the name you call yourself when no one else is around?

The Narrow Way

The Way itself is narrow.  Walking along a narrow path is the Way.  The Way isn’t a destination.  It is a practice, a method, a way of life.

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There are many different kinds of paths on the Way.  What makes the path is the fact that you are on it.

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Sometimes it can get confusing, trying to figure out where to go next.  Slow down, and ask God to show you the Way that is right.

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Sometimes people leave bits of kindness along the Way to cheer you on.  They make an otherwise bland experience exceptional with their thoughtfulness.

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Sometimes you must walk at difficult times, in unusual places.  The Way is not always easy.

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You may be alone for some of it.  This may be unusual for you.  Do you know how to “be” with yourself, when you have none of the usual distractions?

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It is so easy to get sidetracked.  How do you stay focused and on the path?  Is it OK to stop for a little while?  Or will a little while become forever?

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Don’t forget to look up.  Too much looking down at the path draws our attention inwards, where everything is immediate, personal.  Take time to look around you and connect with the world that you are journeying through.

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Savor the journey – you may never pass this way again.

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What do you bring with you?  The more you carry, the harder the journey will be.   Your baggage isn’t just physical – what worries, assumptions, expectations do you bring?  They can slow you down just the same as a pack that is too heavy.  Travel light.

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Trust that all will be provided to you if and when you need it.

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People are generally good, but we don’t hear about it because good news doesn’t sell papers.  Seek them out.  Cherish them.  Start a collection of goodness.  If you don’t find enough of it, start with yourself and be extra kind to whoever is nearest you.

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Good is contagious, and costs nothing to share.

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It lightens our hearts, and ultimately, isn’t that the purpose of this Way?  To learn to live and love with less, with all we are, and with all we meet along our journey?

 

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Surely this is what Jesus meant when he talked about the Kingdom of Heaven being here on earth with us, right now.  We don’t have to wait for it to come to us.  We can bring it here among us by our actions.

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And perhaps, at the end, we will come right round to the beginning again.  Do not fear the darkening path if there is light at the end.  We all must go through darkness to get to the light.  It is how we appreciate it – by experiencing the contrast and the challenge.

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Life-path

We are told that “The Way is made by walking” by Antonio Machado.

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St. Augustine says “It is solved by walking.”

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So where are we going?  Does this imply that we will know the answer when we get there?

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Where is there? Once we’ve walked there, are we supposed to stay? Or do we turn around and go back?

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How far must we walk before we know the answer?

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If merely walking answers our dilemmas, then can we use a treadmill, or do we have to be outside?

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What if we are feeble?  What if we can’t take time off from work?

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Do you have to go on a pilgrimage to a specific site, or is your own neighborhood enough?

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What is it about walking that changes us?

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And how will we know when we get there?

Where are you going?

 

Where are you going? The journey begins at your front door. Whether you are going by foot, by car, by train or plane, you have to walk outside your door first.  You have to leave the known for the unknown.

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Do you have a map? Do you need one? Are you walking on a path others have walked before, or are you blazing new ground, leaving marks for others to follow?

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Do you stay outside, skirting around the walls of buildings? Perhaps it feels safer that way.

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Sometimes we feel lost among others.  Best to stay outside. Sometimes others distract us. Other times, people may join us on our journey, but only for a little while.

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They have their own paths to take. They have their own destinations to discover. Their way is their own.  Remember that.  You can walk alongside for a time, but don’t be dismayed if your paths diverge.

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What do you bring with you?  What do you need for this journey? A backpack should be big enough.  Any more and you’ll be slowed down.  The more you carry, the slower you go. This isn’t just about material things.  Thoughts, beliefs, preconceptions – they can all be baggage.  What are you carrying?  Will it help you, or hinder?

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The forest is cool and wet.  Thankfully you brought a wool sweater.  The smell of the leaves reminds you of fall, but that is months away.  You wish you could live here.  It is so hot where you came from.

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What was it like to build this raised path through the forest?  How much time did it take? How many people slogged through marshy ground until it was decided to create this?

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And then there is here – this took even more time, even more effort.  But look – it loops back upon itself.  Sometimes our paths are like that.  We feel we are going forward, but we have to go backwards for a bit.  It is hard to feel that we are making progress when we are in a place like this.

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Sometimes the path is rocky and unstable.  We have to watch our feet to make sure we don’t fall.  Unstable rocks can cause us to be injured, and there isn’t a lot of help to be had out here.

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Sometimes in our efforts to get away from people, we remember that we need them.  but not just any person, but someone who can help.  Those who always have to be rescued cannot be counted on to be of help when we need it.  Pick traveling (and life) companions wisely.  They have to bear up against hard loads.

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Is this a path for walking?  Or is it for contemplation?

Can’t it be both?

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An evening walk is cooling after a sunny day.  The smell of the salt air is refreshing.  Shall we catch our supper?  Who brought the fishing poles?

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Where does this path lead?  Who built it?  How did they get to their destination before this path?  Not many people can walk on this bridge.  It is too narrow.  It hugs the side of the mountain, barely hanging on.

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Yet this one is designed for quiet evening strolls.  Many people can walk here at once.  Will they take the time to?  Will they choose to give up the speed of their cars for the slow pace afforded by their two feet?  Sometimes it isn’t about getting there.  Sometimes the journey matters more than the destination.

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Back in the forest, we find a boulder has been carved into steps.  This sculptor’s work is more welcome here than any bit of art we could find in a museum.

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Careful around that corner!  The path is slippery here.  But it is worth it for the view.  Imagine the first people to find this place.  Others put up the rails to keep you safe.  However, what is off the path?  What keeps you safe also keeps you from exploring.

Sometimes the rails help.  Sometimes they hinder.  It is up to you how you view them.  Do you feel more secure, or less, because of them? Do they protect you, or imprison you?

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And then we near the end of our journey.  A hewn path through  a stone wall.  Sometimes we have to go through instead of around.  It takes more effort, but sometimes it is the best way.

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Just imagine how many people have walked up these steps.

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The final path leads us home.

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(all pictures are from Pinterest)