·        Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Lessons of the Camino Still Unfolding

The lessons of the Camino are still unfolding.  It is a slow process.  It is like watching a flower unfurl in the morning sun.


I wonder if I will ever put my thoughts on these lessons on paper.  As I walk the dog, inspirations fly through my mind, but they evaporate like mist when I attempt to transcribe them.  


1.)    Seeing things (and people) with new eyes

2.)  Understanding “Give us this day our daily bread” (or our daily bed)…emphasis on daily – faith, trust…

3.)  Service before self (stole this from the USAF core values!)…”Thy will be done”

4.)  Character building experiences are opportunities to see things spiritually


I am Exhilarated Today

I awoke to a bedroom washed in morning light and the pristine blue New Mexico skies like a watercolor painting, framed by the window.  “Today is big with blessings.”  (MBE) 


Over morning coffee with the sounds of NPR’s Morning Edition providing comfortable background commentary, I made a list of tasks and dreams and ideas.  The yellow-papered spiral notebooks that I use to capture my attempts at orchestrating life would look confusing to anyone but me.  I always open them rather randomly and let my pencil (always a pencil) take charge.  I like the feel and look of my lists filling the tiny squares (I use graph-paper). 


Today I feel much like I do in the autumn, when the season changes.  In the film “Chocolat” the protagonist senses the changes in the wind and a kind of energy urges her to move on. This is similar to my own feelings.  Usually in September I feel an indescribable call, an urge, an energy that is positive.  I feel it now.  I am counting my blessings as I consider all the items on my random list that spills onto two pages.  I feel a sense of joy at the opportunity to pursue all these ideas.  I do not feel the pressure of having to accomplish them.  Somehow, I know the work will be done, and there will be progress.  This paper does not represent a check list or a to-do list.  Somehow it is an account of all the joy and meaning in my life.  It represents an accounting of my values and my pleasures as well as my priorities.


This weekend was pleasant; an easy, if somewhat uneventful, pleasure of letting life unfold.  The balance of togetherness and accomplishment and relaxation was just right.  No recipe for it; like most really inspired cooking, the experienced cook uses what is on hand or in season and enhances it.  We planned for our trip to the Black Hills (50th anniversary surprise and projects for Mom and Dad V.), we did some happy errands in the company of our dog, we took a short road trip to Los Alamos, we looked at new cars, we watched “Chocolat” and “Big Fish” while preparing 2,000 Habitat for Humanity newsletters, we ate and relaxed and enjoyed life.


The day stretches out like the path to Santiago.  If I follow the yellow arrows, and simply move forward, I will cover so much ground and see so many beautiful, inspiring things and I will be closer to my goal.  I will be where I am supposed to be. 


A Little Facebook Game

Someone sent a request – post the names of the first 15 books that come to mind when asked what books will always be with you.   I like the idea of not editing and simply making the list that comes to mind today. 


It interests me that many people seem to be incapable of simply choosing 15 titles – it is as if this is a huge commitment.  It is that tiny word ALWAYS.  There is really only NOW. 


And that is my lesson for the day.  Be happy NOW.  That is really all there is.


15 Books That Will Always Be With Me (Today Anyway!)

1.       Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures (Mary Baker Eddy)

2.     Roget’s Thesaurus

3.     Joy of Man’s Desiring (Jean Giono) & others by Giono

4.     The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran)

5.     East of Eden (John Steinbeck) &/or others by Steinbeck

6.     Giants in the Earth (O. E. Rolvaag)

7.     100 Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

8.     Anna Karenina (L. Tolstoy) &/or War and Peace (L. Tolstoy)

9.     The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint Exupéry)

10.  A Prayer for Owen Meaney (John Irving) &/or  Cider House Rules (John Irving)

11.   Accidental Tourist (Anne Tyler) &/or others by Tyler

12.  Hawaii (James Michener) &/or Centennial (James Michener)

13.  Narnia Series (C.S. Lewis)

14.  Little House on the Prairie Series (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

15.  The Big Fish (Daniel Wallace)

16.  Chocolat (Joanne Harris)


·        Friday, 12 June 2009

Pooped Pooch

Zia and I trekked out to our old familiar walking grounds this morning.  It was about 67 degrees under a bright sky here in sunny Santa Fe.  I have not been inclined to walk since I returned home.  In fact I have stayed close to home, simply indulging in some of my favorite things.   I seemed to need a little pampering, despite the need to begin moving forward on professional and personal projects that have been on hold due to my indulgent pilgrimage across Spain.  But the walk today was pleasant.


I was rather surprised when about half-way through the walk, Miss Zia plunked herself down under the shade of a small tree and stretched out, tongue hanging and panting.  It was not really hot, but Zia seemed ready for a break.  I decided to curtail the walk.  Perhaps she is simply out of shape after 6 or so weeks of no regular walks.  In any case we headed home. 


Upon entering the lovely oasis behind the house, Miss Zia made a beeline to the upper waterfall.  She splashed into the pool and laid down in the cool, flowing water.  She gulped down water as she relaxed there for a good 5 minutes.  (This is NOT usual behavior.)  I stood watching until she came to the door and asked to come in.


I guess I wore her out.


So now here I sit at the keyboard with a wet, loving dog happily snuggled against at my feet.  Oh the “perfume” a wet dog generates!    


·        Tuesday, 9 June 2009

I am wearing the same clothes I wore (almost) EVERYDAY while I walked the Camino.  I didn’t think I would ever put them on again!  Many pilgrims finish their Camino at Finisterre, which translates as “the end of the earth”.  They stand on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean off Spain’s coast and make a ritual of burning their walking clothes.  The symbolism is lovely, but I chose not to participate in that activity.


So what is the occasion that finds me in my worn and torn walking garb again? 


Why walking, of course!  The first real dog-walk since my return to the USA.  


For all practical purposes, Miss Zia has not been on a leash since late April.  When she saw me pulling on my walking clothes she began an enthusiastic doggie-dance and voiced her excitement in with a yodeling sound that is unique to my little sweetie-dog. 


Miss Zia has never been really good on a leash.  She thinks she is the lead-dog in a sled team.  She likes to be at the end of the leash pulling and prancing.  I can usually deal with this rather exuberant behavior, but it is the initial and final parts of the walking that present the real challenge.  Walking down to the street and up to the corner, she in almost unmanageable.  She quivers and pulls.  I can barely restrain her.  I shorten the leash for better control, but then I step on her toes and she yelps as we walk along.  It is not a pretty sight, nor does it encourage anyone to volunteer to walk the dear dog.  She seems to be reacting to the dogs who live in adjacent properties.  Once we get down the road a bit, she relaxes and is somewhat more manageable.


This behavior has been consistent.  But after 6 weeks of not walking on a leash, the behavior has exacerbated.  It is not a pleasure; it is like roping a calf.


I have a project ahead.  I need to find a way to coach and motivate my usually well-mannered sweetie-dog so she can enjoy life on a leash.  And so I can enjoy being at the other end of the leash.


With the walk behind me (a rather abbreviated walk) I can move on and begin to resume my pre-Camino routine.  Or at least try to. 


Work projects are already piling up.  For a woman with no clearly-defined job this seems odd.  There is a workshop to prepare (delivery is next week) and there is a meeting regarding a couple proposals.  I need to shift gears and begin thinking about these things, and others (the in-laws 50th anniversary party/Black Hills trip preparations in early July).  I would prefer to have time to assimilate and process my Camino experiences.


 I am trying transcribe my journal notes for each day of the trip from paper to my online blog.  This is going slowly.  I wish I could indulge in that activity for about a week with no interruption.  What a luxury that would be.  Of course some may ask, isn’t it enough that you spent 6-weeks away from the usual demands of life and still you want more time?  Well, yes, the answer is yes.


Here’s a Camino inspired thought:  is it the spaces and the time alone that is a catalyst for our actions and choices.  I am wrestling to refine this idea so I was delighted when I received the poem below in my e-mail today.  The fires of passion, joy, motivation, etc. all require space and air. 




What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

~ Judy Brown ~


FYI: On the dog-walk today, I saw a really long discarded snakeskin by the roadside today.  I hate to think where the owner may be!  I hope I see him/her first!








Our Peace Corps (Ukraine) adventures:

January 2005 - May 2007


Our AmeriCorps*VISTA  (Santa Fe, NM) adventures:

August 2007 – November 2008


My Santiago de Compostela Camino  (Spain) adventures:

20 April -1 June 2009


Blog: http://pilgrimageofgratitude-mycamino.blogspot.com


My Facebook Page & Picasa Albums:

Virginia J. Pulver




Life is good!