Tag Archives: modern pilgrimmages

What is the most spiritual city in the U.S.A.?

Most of the gurus on Soul’s Code say that spirituality cannot be measured. But an economist would reply with two words: Ojai, California

BY PAUL KAIHLA — Ojai, CA is to spirituality what Silicon Valley is to technology. Due east and a 40-minute hop inland from Santa Barbara, Ojai has more mind-body spas per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. — probably, the world.

How does Ojai pull that kind of rank? For one thing, it’s got a tiny population: 8,000 souls. For another, Ojai was the North American base of the great Indian mystic, J. Krishnamurti. He underwent one of the most famous enlightenments in history at Ojai in 1922.

Read more

On the “30th anniversary of AIDS”

7 nights in tents, 3,000 cyclists + 500 miles. The 10th annual AIDS ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles made octagon-fighters look like wimps

DAVID RICKEY — As we marked the “30th anniversary of AIDS,” we acknowledged that many people on this cycling marathon at one time were fighting for their lives.

I suddenly realized that I personally know several people who have been infected with the HIV virus for 31+ years, and are still alive!

The AIDS Lifecycle Ride was both a testament to the continuing need for cure and treatment and a potent source of healing in its own right.

The AIDS virus entered the human bloodstream probably in late 1979. I can remember visiting, in 1980 as a student chaplain, gay men who were experiencing what was called the “Gay Plague.” The symptoms were various: pneumonia-like, intense fatigue, but the cause could not be determined.

The virus was discovered, isolated and named in 1981, hence the “anniversary.”

In those early years, AIDS was considered a death sentence.

Read more

If this is Saturday, it must be St. Patrick’s Day

The sacred day of the Irish Saint Patrick this year falls on March 17, 2012 but Americans of Irish and noe-Celtic purists will really celebrate in the summer

BY BRIAN CAULFIELD — In the United States many of us will get quite drunk as St. Patrick’s day rolls around once more. But on the last Sunday in July, 15,000 or more pilgrims in Mayo have a very different kind of St. Patrick experience as they climb Croagh Patrick — in their bare feet for 5 miles and a vertical of 1.5 miles.

It may present a Matrix red-pill, blue-pill Sophie’s Choice: Either makes you do a deep-dive of self-reflection and inner discovery  . . . or really just makes you want to have another beer.(Mayo is short for Mayo County, and also the character Richard Gere played in an Officer and a Gentleman)

Read more
Serenity in a blizzard

Serenity in a blizzard

How I survived a near-death road trip with my hillbilly Zen Master

BY AUGUST TURAK – I was 21 years old. And for the first and only time in my life, I was sure I was about to die. I was in the passenger seat of my 1963 day-glo green Ford Econoline van with a bubble-shaped skylight on the roof and a madman behind the wheel – a West Virginia hillbilly who happened to be my Zen Master. We had been on our way out West when he’d gotten news that his son was in trouble back in Wheeling, and now he was barreling home with me in tow to do what he could.

The trip had started out two days before on an almost comical note. On a cold dark morning at 5:30, his usual starting time, I was coming up his front steps to pick him up. My van was parked across the street and according to his careful instructions, was full of enough tools, extra tires, and spare parts to rebuild it on the fly if necessary. And because of the Arab oil embargo that year, it was stocked with fifteen gallons of spare gasoline in three five-gallon cans.

Read more

When in Rome: My Thanksgiving Pilgrimage

“At that moment, language, distance and time were transcended. Where the sacred brings the past and present together is the point at which each experienced traveler knows that any one of us is open to meeting the next person.”

BY KOHL GLAU — When traveling abroad, I strive not to be just another tourist, either on the inside or the outside. But what else could one possibly be? Stepping foot into another country, by definition, implicitly means you’re a five-year-old again: open to meeting all good people, open to unanticipated ideas, fresh ways of life, speaking a new mother tongue — and like, blending in as much as possible.

So why go through all this trouble as an adult? To paraphrase the great Harold Bloom, we can never meet enough people, and we learn something new about ourselves when we learn something original from another. If this is also the merit of reading great literature, doesn’t the same hold true of travel?

Read more

Camino de Santiago pilgrimmage

The trail had lots of hikers but few pilgrims

PhyllistheAuthor — Two friends have asked my Baptist husband if after the pilgrimage, he is going to become a Roman Catholic. How much these people missed the point of the Camino. It was not a religious exercise like kissing the hem of the Pope’s robe. It was a spiritual journey.

In fact, I didn’t meet anyone who was overtly religious on the Camino. No one wished us a “Blessed day” or mentioned God or religion. I have no idea what, if any religion, my fellow pilgrims followed. In asking people what brought them to the Camino, I got a variety of answers. No one said he/she was doing the Camino for a religious purpose. We only met one person who made a point of the fact that for him, it was just a hike. We met only one woman who proclaimed that she had no faith.

In contrast, signs of a spiritual journey were everywhere: In the stones left at kilometer marking. In the hearts, flowers, and crosses along the way. In the quiet contemplation of the pilgrims in churches. In journals being kept by pilgrims, In the respect shown the countryside through which the pilgrims walked. In the kindness of one pilgrim to another.

Read more

Camino Reflection #11

In response to our pilgrimage, one person asked how could anyone believe in a God who let babies die. Implicit in the question is the belief that death is bad. And it does seem so to those who are left bereft. Yet it may be the greatest good for those who die. For the innocents who die it may be a shortcut to fields of flowers, singing birds, endless rainbows, pure joy.

If death is not bad, the problem then is not dying, but suffering. How does one understand suffering? One only has to read The Book of Job to appreciate that suffering is difficult to understand. It once was thought that suffering was redemptive, and I suspect it can be so. More often, it seems to be a dessert of endless sand, parched earth, and prickly cactus, a no man’s land of pain. Could it be the suffering is the price, the passport, for entering into the delights of death?

Or could it be that suffering is not about the person suffering? Could it be instead about us and our call to be kind? How can anyone believe in a loving God without experiencing love in their lives?

Read more

Parataxic distortion

PhyllistheAuthor— Have you ever noticed how when you buy something like a new car you suddenly see that make of car everywhere? Psychologists call the phenomenon parataxic distortion. Since our journey along the Camino de Santiago to Compostela, Spain, we see scallop shells—traditional symbol of the pilgrimage—everywhere. Even Coquilles St. Jacques, a favorite scallop recipe, takes on new meaning.

In spite of my heightened sensitivity to scallop shells, on a recent visit to the new archeology museum celebrating the 400th anniversary of the settlement at Jamestown, I was taken aback to see three Compostela pilgrim badges displayed among the artifacts. I have lived three miles from Jamestown since 1985 and frequently visited there, and this is the first time I have felt a real connection to the early settlers. It is often said that everything is connected, and I’m beginning to believe that is true.

Read more

Camino Reflection #9

Many years ago, I read a novel called The Fountain by Charles Morgan. The story turns around a dying man’s withdrawal from life into the divine. As his body fails, little by little the man subtracts himself from the things of earth, from status, possessions, and even the love of his wife. Such release is at that heart of meditation and the Christian message of losing one’s life to find it.

Walking the Camino, we left behind status, accomplishments, and possessions. The way and the weather were so uncertain that we were never sure where we would eat, rest, or spend the night. The physical demands were so great the day came when we was too exhausted to go on. We had to recognize our limitations, give in, get a hotel room, and rest. We had to give up control.

The image of a fountain gets to the heart of the Camino experience. As the burdens and the clutter of the world fell away, I felt a lightness of spirit. The rainbow that we followed for hours one day reappeared inside of me. Joy bubbled up and splashed out turning dried grass into diamonds.

Read more
Reflections of a Modern Day Pilgrim

Reflections of a Modern Day Pilgrim

In a once-in-a-lifetime religious pilgrimmage, a Virginia couple walks the historic Camino de Santiago in Spain

It’s hard to imagine undertaking an activity that will require long distance walking every day for 30days or more. Before I began the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), I used to think that walking 5 or 6 miles was a long distance. Little did I know or
understand what it would take to complete anywhere from 8 to 18 miles a day with a backpack weighing a minimum of 16 pounds plus water.

The first couple of weeks were very difficult for me  physically and psychologically.

Read more