Unforeseen Hat Trick. 

For the past month my brother has been visiting from San Diego. He has been very supportive of my Camino focused activities. He endured numerous visits to REI, which has become my supplier of choice (they will take anything in return for one year!) He has also had to tolerated my telling many Camino related stories. He has cheerfully joined me on a variety of hikes around the area, many of which neither of us had ever walked even though we both grew up in the area and I’ve been here my whole life.

One of the first was Sleeping Giant Park, just north of New Haven, where we joined numerous vacationing families as they hiked to the observation tower on a beautiful day just before Easter.

Another day Rick mentioned that he had never been to the top of East Rock, in New Haven. So we drove over for a visit and brief hike around to enjoy the beautiful view of the city.

With the end of the visit drawing near, we met an old time friend for lunch in Westville. Afterward, we went in search of West Rock Nature Center. We both have fond childhood memories of school and family visits to see the various animals and birds on display. While we succeeded in locating the Center, what we found was not the lovely gem of our memories but a very sad shell of the former facility.

We decided that as long as we were in the neighborhood we might try hiking up West Rock to visit the Judges’ Cave landmark.

I had just bought the backpack (yes REI) I plan to wear while walking the Camino. This seemed like a good opportunity to try it out. So we loaded it up with about 15 lbs of bulk and enjoyed a delightful hike on freshly maintained paths to the top. Neither of us had visited the “Cave” in 30+ years. While taking in the panorama we realized we could also take in all of New Haven and into Hamden including good views of both East Rock and the Sleeping Giant, in full repose.

Bingo! We had completed an unplanned Hat Trick of New Haven’s three peaks.

This very special month together is yet another gift of the Camino 🙏 Only 4 1/2 months till I leave.

Sadly Rick returns home tomorrow….

We begin before we begin…

During this week we celebrate rebirth in many ways, Easter, Passover, Spring, etc. making it a natural time to reflect on ones journey. I have, of course, been reflecting on my Camino. It was this time last spring that I first read Steve’s blog posts about his pilgrimage. Little did I know at the time that I too was beginning my own Pilgrimage and that a year later I’d be sitting here writing a blog. Thus, my new journey had begun and it is only now in the quiet morning reflection that I gain the perspective to glimpse the recent course of my life and the unexpected gifts I have received.

I think what has compelled me to write today is to share the joy of these gifts. My flights to France & Spain to begin the Camino are not until September 2017. However, the decision to plan and prepare for the walk has changed my life. Just purchasing my flight and picking a date has brought much into focus by having this new goal. I am learning about my body and how to incrementally prepare to walk 600+ miles. The process of deciding what to pack and what to leave is providing an interesting parallel at this stage of life when so many of life’s’ material possessions begin to lose their luster.

The most surprising gift has been that of inspiration. I’ve noticed that when I tell people, strangers as well as friends, about the Camino I find that they are uplifted and inspired in their life. One friend even booked a tour of Spain. What I have found so surprising is that people are inspired by just the idea of the Pilgrimage. I have not done anything yet more than by an airline ticket and do some reading!  This is a wonderful reminder of how all that we do, actions, and words, influences those around us. We can choose to spread depression or inspiration.

American Pilgrims of the Camino – Annual Gathering – March 24-26, 2017

This weekend I joined a couple of hundred people for a three day retreat. Most of the attendees have walked the Camino de Santiago and a few of us are planning to walk it for the first time in the coming year. I did not know a single person before I arrived. By Sunday I felt like I had spend the weekend with old friends.

The talks and presentations were informative, inspiring and, some quite moving. The Camino has a way of making good people even better. No one seems to leave unchanged.

A surprising highlight was the Shell Ceremony where each of us who had not yet walked the Camino but planned to in the coming year are awarded a scallop shell. The prayer they recited was moving, creating a few damp eyes.

I look forward to attending next year’s Gathering. Buen Camino.