The Way

I have been dragging my feet writing about this subject, however, it occurred to me I should use my voice and speak up, or rather write about my upcoming journey since my blog is all about finding one’s voice.

A couple of years ago someone suggested a good movie on Netflix and as luck would have it I remembered the name of the movie and watched it. I was completely taken in by the movie and found myself wanting to experience the journey. The movie was The Way starring and directed by Martin Sheen. Of course, as life would have it, other things were calling my immediate attention and the movie and any thoughts of actually walking the Camino de Santiago, as the walk is called, got stashed away within the deep recesses of my subconscious. However, it continued to lurk, while I continued to make excuses. I watched the movie again, and again. I watched the movie with my son, and he watched it again. There was something calling. I am not even certain how it happened, but somehow the call became more of a loud pounding and I answered and did the one thing that commits most of us to any travel, I booked the air tickets. Now it is real, I am going to be walking the Camino de Santiago with my son this June.

About now you might be asking yourself just what is The Camino de Santiago? You would be surprised how many people think it is some place in California or South America, no one thinks of Spain. Well, actually, the path I am taking, The Frances Way, begins in France. A brief history provided by the Unesco World Heritage Site follows:

Pilgrimages were an essential part of western European spiritual and cultural life in the Middle Ages and the routes that they took were equipped with facilities for the spiritual and physical well-being of pilgrims. The Route of St James of Compostela has preserved the most complete material record in the form of ecclesiastical and secular buildings, settlements both large and small, and civil engineering structures. This Route played a fundamental role in facilitating the two-way interchange of cultural developments between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. There is no comparable Christian pilgrimage route of such extent and continuity anywhere in Europe: the other two pilgrimage routes, to Jerusalem and Rome, are only recognizable in a very fragmentary fashion. In addition to its enormous historical and spiritual value, it also represents a remarkably complete cross-section of European artistic and architectural evolution over several centuries.

The different pilgrimage routes converged on Santiago de Compostela, at the foot of the Apostle’s tomb, and were lined with works of art and architectural creations. The cultural heritage scattered along the length of these routes is immensely rich. It represents the birth of Romanesque art; then came the Gothic cathedrals and the chains of monasteries.

The tradition whereby the Apostle St James the Great preached the Gospel in Spain dates from the early 7th century. In the Latin Breviary of the Apostles, St Jerome held that apostles were buried where they preached, and so it was assumed that the body of St James had been moved from Jerusalem, where according to the Acts of the Apostles he was martyred on the order of Herod Agrippa, to a final resting place in Spain. It was not until the 9th century that the apostle’s tomb was identified at Compostela. The late 8th century saw the consolidation of the Christian kingdom of Galicia and Asturias in northern Spain, with the support of Charlemagne. It was to provide the base for the reconquest of the peninsula from Muslim domination, a process that was not to be completed until 1492. The apostle had been adopted as its patron saint by the Christian kingdom against the menace of Islam, and in the early years of the 9th century, during the reign of Alfonso II, his tomb was ‘discovered’ in a small shrine by the hermit Pelayo and Todemiro, bishop of the most westerly diocese in the kingdom.

The fame of the tomb of St James quickly spread across western Europe and it became a place of pilgrimage. By the beginning of the 10th century pilgrims were coming to Spain on the French routes from Tours, Limoges, and Le Puy, and facilities for their bodily and spiritual welfare began to be endowed along what gradually became recognized as the formal pilgrimage route, while in Compostela itself a magnificent new basilica was built to house the relics of the Apostle, along with other installations – churches, chapels, hospices and hospitals. The 12th century saw the route achieve its greatest influence, used by thousands of pilgrims from all over Western Europe. In 1139 the first ‘guidebook’ to the Route appeared, in the form of Book V of the Calixtine Codex (attributed to Pope Calixtus II but most probably the work of the pilgrim Aymeric Picaud), describing its precise alignment from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela and listing the facilities available to pilgrims. These structures, ranging from humble chapels and hospices to magnificent cathedrals, represent every aspect of artistic and architectural evolution from Romanesque to Baroque and beyond, demonstrating the intimate linkages between faith and culture in the Middle Ages.

There are two access routes into Spain from France, entering at Roncesvalles (Valcarlos Pass) and Canfranc (Somport Pass) respectively; they merge west of Pamplona, just before Puente la Reina. It passes through five Comunidades Autónomas and 166 towns and villages, and it includes over 1,800 buildings of historic interest; in many cases the modern road runs parallel to the ancient route. The tradition of pilgrimage to Santiago has not ceased since that time, although its popularity waned in recent centuries. Since it was declared to be the first European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987, however, it has resumed the spiritual role that it played in the Middle Ages, and every year sees many thousands of pilgrims following it on foot or bicycle.

I have not decided whether to blog or not as I walk. My intentions are probably not since I am not taking a computer. For my personal journey I want to be free of technology as much as possible. However, I will be taking a smart phone and, well, you never know, but my goal is to stay away from the Internet for the 33 days I intend to be walking. I am certain this walk will influence my feelings about many things in life. I am going with no expectations, only an attempt to keep my heart open and to fully experience all that the Camino provides for me on my personal journey. I have some 60 days before I leave, much of which will be filled with finding the right gear to take, which in and of itself is a journey let me tell you! It is a religious experience just to find the best shoes, backpack and what to fill it with! So many opinions, so many stories of what works and what doesn’t . . . all of which is wonderful advice, but in the end leaves my head spinning. Don’t even ask about all the trips to REI and discussions with sales persons, all having differing opinions as to what you should take. Of course, none have done the walk themselves! So you can see why I say it is already a religious experience simply by the preparations.   When one comes from the US, it is no easy feat to get to the start of the Camino and requires planes, trains, and automobiles! Whatever it brings, it is certain to provide me with an amazing experience and I hope to be able to share my voice in some fashion with what I find along the path. Thank you for supporting me in my endeavors and for reading my blog. It means a great deal to me and it fills my heart and soul with sustenance for just such a journey as the Camino. As the saying goes, Buen Camino

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A strong person knows they have strength enough for their journey, but a person of strength knows that it is in their journey where they will become strong.~ Nishan Panwar

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In a Holy Book I Have

In a holy book I have there are pages from
the Bible and the Koran.

And pages from the sutras and from the
Upanishads, the Torah, and the Gita.

And pages of things that unknown saints
wrote in collaboration with the heavens
that people have never seen.

And pages of the wisdom of animals and
their young singing while they played, the
way we once did with the stars.

And pages of plants and pages of sounds.
And pages of earths.

Yes, it is all there in my soul, anything ink
has ever preserved, anything that stone ever

begged to have carved on it, anything any
instrument gifted from its mind, or a brush
left for us to see. Any space sanctified by
dance, I know.

And anything that will ever be, written in
your heart. You, the eyes or ears and cells
that now hear this.

In a holy book I have, in a sacred text I carry,
is the face of everyone who will ever be.

An Excerpt from A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations by Daniel Ladinsky

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May all the Stars Shine Upon Your Path

What’s difficult in life is to stay centered when somebody does or says something that tempts us to close our hearts because their heart was closed. That is hard. But that is also how we grow. We go through those circumstances in order to evolve into people who can hold to our loving center no matter what the world throws us.~ Marianne Williamson

What do you notice about yourself, deep in your heart what do you feel? Does your heart feel whole and complete? Do you feel love in your heart? My heart often feels wounded, and when it does often my go to place is to shut down, to withdraw, and to isolate. This has been my life’s pattern, to isolate and withdraw when things don’t feel good. In looking back, I recognize this is what I was taught to do. I was taught to hide things, never discuss them or acknowledge them. It is inherently more comfortable for all concerned if we just put our emotions away, neatly mind you, in the corner, a box, somewhere other than for anyone to see, least of all myself. And then comes the all too familiar rush of being out of balance.

Lately, and most often, I worry a lot about money. I worry if I am going to have enough for my future care. I worry if I should be thinking of planning the trips I want to take. I worry if I should be purchasing organic foods rather than the cheaper foods. Then I worry if I eat the cheaper foods that I will be ingesting toxins! I worry if I have been a good mother, a good friend and the list goes on and on. I think you get the picture, and perhaps you can see yourself in this picture as well. We spend so much time worrying that we forget to stop and experience the moment. The moment is all we truly have, and in it we can find little slices of joy. This joy fills our hearts and when our hearts are full, that joy overflows out into the world, as opposed to when our hearts are closed off, stashed in the corner out of sight.

This living fully and in the present is a practice, one we must come to each and every day. We are not less than if we notice we have gone astray, if we feel anger wash over us in the moment someone cuts us off in traffic, or when we feel that monkey mind start spinning. We are never less than, after all how could we be since we are all god like in our infinite being. We can acknowledge these feelings, let them wash over us, leaning into each and every one as it arises, remembering our breath as we sit.  We must allow for these things to pass, and become a witness to life in all of its magnificent glory. It is to be found in the simple moments, from the sun’s rays that brilliantly shine through the window, the rain falling softly on the ground, the snowflakes gently covering our magnificent mother Earth. This is where the stillness lies. Take note of it, step into it and breathe. You are a perfect child of God just as you stand in this moment. There is no need for anything more. Be that love that light and let it shine like a beacon onto the world. May all the stars shine upon your path.

Everything you have in life can be taken from you except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
This is what determines the quality of the life we’ve lived.
Not whether we’ve been rich or poor,
famous or unknown, healthy or suffering.
What determines our quality of life is
how we relate to these realities.~Viktor Frankl

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Walk Out of Your Dream

The Buddha was no different from you. No different. That is why he serves as a good model, because he was as you are now. So don’t worship the Buddha. Don’t put him on a pedestal. Don’t even look up to him. Become him. Have the same intentions, take the same stand. Be the Buddha now! Put an end to all delaying, to all excuses, to all bowing down to saintly figures of the past or present. Stand up!

You are the Buddha! You are freedom itself! Stop dreaming your dream! Stop pretending that you are in bondage – stop telling yourself that lie! Stop pretending to be someone, or something! You are no one, you are no-thing! You are not this body or this mind. This body and mind exist within who and what you are. You are pure consciousness, already free, awake, and liberated. Stand up and walk out of your dream. I am here to say that you can do this.  ~ Adyashanti

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Finding Your Voice

Lately the message has been to be true to myself, to honor myself and to remember that I am worthy.  My late husband used to have a problem with the word “deserve” and so I caution myself always from using that word, or thinking in that sense.  It is true, no one deserves, but honoring yourself is what we must practice in order to do the important work we have come here in this lifetime to share.  How often do we pick up the burdens of others to our own detriment?  We all know them, the friend that sucks the lifeblood out of you, they ask, ask, and ask for themselves but there often is no reciprocation as to how they might support you.  I write this blog as a way to heal not only myself, but hopefully to give others space to find their own voice.  Naturally, I have shared this blog with my family and friends hoping they will support me in my endeavors.  Many have not.  This has hurt me for a long time, but I have stashed it in the back of my mind telling myself it is not right to have any expectations.  And, of course, it is not right to have expectations we all know that, especially those of us involved in the journey of growth for the enlightenment of our mind and soul, learning to drop expectations is right up there at the top of the rule list!  However, I am often left grappling with these feelings.  Today I watched a video about honoring yourself and cutting ties with those that don’t add any value to your life.  The video further highlighted how some people won’t add much to your life and that thought provoking discussions don’t occur with everyone.  I get this piece, I really do.  However, I struggle with people calling on me to listen to them in their struggles, to ask for rides and assistance with things, to have been asked for money in the past, and the list goes on and on.  They call on me, but they are no where to be found when I need their support.  In the past, I have written about the Native American use of the Burden Basket, and lately I have come to feel as if I am that Burden Basket just hanging on my front door for everyone to dump into.  Today a light bulb went off, I am only that Burden Basket if I allow myself to be as such!  Ok, that is not a novel concept, but sometimes in the effort to be kind and helpful we all allow ourselves to be run over.  I am in the process of releasing a friend and her negative energy from my life right now, it is not easy especially when my ego starts doing the talking and my mind turns into monkey mind going round and round.  This person has been toxic to my soul for years; her energy is off the charts in terms of being vampire like.  And yet, she is funny, amusing and oftentimes a good time is had when in her company.   I have tolerated it all, worried about it all and today I am going to begin to release myself from her negative energy as well as to stop being a Burden Basket for many others as this is an action that I allow to take place.  The point of writing this blog is to assist people to find their voices, and today I am a little bit closer to finding mine.  Where can you find your voice today? Can you release some relationships that no longer serve you, be they personal and/or business relationships?

You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get better. You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive. It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. If you’re wanting to be of an advantage to others, be as tapped in, turned in, turned on as you can possibly be.  ~ Esther Abraham-Hicks

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Your Voice Matters

When is the last time you stood up for an ideal?  We can all become so comfortable in our own worlds that we often forget many others do not live with such great comfort in their lives.  Many go without the basic necessities of water and toilets.  I write of this today after seeing the bravery of just a few recent newsworthy groups, like the band Pussy Riot in Russia, and the many people in the Ukraine, standing up for their ideas against oppression, for democratic freedom.  Some will take offense and say the band Pussy Riot is not brave because they wear masks, etc.  The reason they wear masks, or balaclavas, is that the masks represent deindividualization.  The message is that it doesn’t matter which of them are arrested, as they are not individuals, but rather they are an Idea.  This is why they are such a threat: it is easy to imprison individuals, but try to imprison an Idea!

Both of these groups of people are crying out for the world to recognize their plight, but further to also recognize the generalized aspect of a resisting mass of people, an assemblage of the discontented of the entire world – liberals, human rights defenders, leftists of all kinds, feminists, atheists, the LGBT community, and more.  We cannot afford to reduce the masses of people with different political views and beliefs to a ‘universal’ category of the discontented, returning us to a liberal idea of a confrontation between the human and the state machine. This is a dangerous simplification, ignoring the inner multiplicity of political qualities and social differences.

And so today I applaud these groups of people and the many smaller voices that have not been newsworthy for taking a stand against something they do not believe in.  We have much work to do in our own United States, Monsanto wants to change our food chain, oil and gas companies are heavily fracking our land in order to have short-term energy gains.  Both of these things will have long-range health consequences and more on our world, and yet where is our voice?  We can look to these brave Peoples for inspiration to do more than say what good would my one voice do, for one voice is all that is necessary to make a difference.  You can be the change you want to see it all begins with you.  Whatever it is that makes you uncomfortable, try to get out of your own comfort zone and make a difference for our planet.  It might be simply saying hello to a stranger, thereby softening the voice of loneliness, or it might be more like these groups of people have done.  Just find your voice for your cause.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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A Selection of True Awakening Experiences…

Wildflower Women:

Truly grateful for the wonderful experience of being part of this writing group of 32 beautiful souls from around the world! Click on the PDF document to download this beautiful gift of writing and sharing of souls.

Originally posted on Me, My Magnificent Self:

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A Selection of True Awakening Experiences…
Art by Kimberly Harding…

Together with 33 magnificent bloggers here on WordPress we have created a Free E Book…  A Selection of True Awakening Experiences… that we have written in order to help put our own life’s journey into perspective and inspire us on and to inspire the many hearts of HumanKind to aspire to their own true and unique potential… to be the change they want to see in the world and help create a peaceful and loving world in which to live in harmony and cooperation with each other..

As an introduction to this inspiring collection of true stories I wrote the following…

2014 was approaching and I was inspired to ask my sacred friends to share an account of their life’s journey and in particular the moments of their awakening to who they truly were…  What followed is something I couldn’t…

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