weareallpilgrims

Camino de Santiago

To Be

“We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, and to Do… forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in , the fundamental verb, to Be.”

Evelyn Underhill

Now here is a quote that took me some time to think more deeply about before I found its profound truth. Evelyn Underhill was an English poet, novelist as well as a pacifist and a mystic. The older I get the more I have fallen for the mystics, especially the Franciscan mystics. I love to thinking deeply into what lies beneath the surface of everything. I guess that is why I have found these words so profound because they speak of a deep truth to me.

Human Being is the fundamental verb that I am striving for first and foremost in my life these days. This is not they way I am wired though, as I love adventure and going everywhere, exploring and learning anything new. I love to focus my energy on anything that excites me. I am definitely a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) kinda guy. I know that is probably what attracted me to walking the Camino in the first place. I was looking for some big adventure that would excite me as I had just retired from Boeing. I was ready to be challenged to try something completely different. The Camino seemed like just the right way to begin my retirement from a desk job at Boeing where I sat for most of my 40 year career. Now, I would try walking everyday for 5 weeks. What an adventure, I was thinking, and it was!

The funny thing was though during all those long days of being outside walking, I found my mind began to slow down as I was not thinking about this, or that or what needed to get done. Mostly, Terri and I were focused on some very simple things, like where was the first place we could stop in the morning for our morning Cafe con Leche and Coussaint. The Camino slowed my mind down and I began to experience a little of what Evelyn Underhill was talking about in her quote. All the verbs like “to want” or “to have” or “to do” are still present but the fundamental truth that lies underneath is about the verb “To Be”. To just be with no big agendas or chasing my ego from place to place to find the next great and exciting thing or place or whatever.

Over the last year, I been practicing (and I emphasize this word practicing), doing nothing, just being. Now I am sure for many of you this sounds crazy. What do you mean, doing nothing? I guess it is taking this idea of Human Being that I learned from the Camino and applying to my life everyday. I will give you an example of one practice I started up recently to help me with this “doing nothing” practice. Every morning (even if it is cloudy) I start by sitting out on our deck at sunrise. Much like we did each morning on the Camino, except we were walking. I will simply just sit and watch and I try to keep my mind as quiet as I can. I particularly love watching crows fly by our deck each day at dawn, just like clockwork. I like to practice the silencing of my mind and to just BE STILL. To simply BE PRESENT to the dawn. To do nothing, to not be planning and organizing what I am going to get done this day or where I will be going. To rest my ego, to release my daily agenda and to do list and just BE. I spend up to 30 to 45 minutes each morning like this (much easier to do when your retired, I know). I have to say, this practice has been a true gift as it has provided the solid sense of the beauty of “just being present”.

I read a meditation today that I felt sums this idea up well and I believe we are all called to follow this advice from Fr Richard Rohr.

“to love things in and as themselves, to love things for what they are, not for what they do for us…When we look out from these eyes, we see that it’s not about us! And I promise, when we begin seeing the world this way, everything starts to give us joy. Simple things start to make us happy, and Reality begins to offer us inherent joy.”

I hope you also find the joy of “Human Being”!

Blessings,

John

Photograph of the Month

September Sunrise

I mentioned my morning practice of sitting for the sunrise. This past week there was a particularly beautiful one that I am sharing with you here. There is some very good health reasons for being present each day to the dawn and the sunsets and it has to do with the setting of biological clocks each day for getting the best sleep. I learned this from listening to a podcast by Dr Andrew Huberman, a Stanford neuroscientist on “Sleep Toolkit: Tools for Optimizing Sleep & Sleep-Wake Timing“. Give this podcast a listen and it has definitely helped me with my sleep.

Larch Trees at Blue Lake

I am including a second photograph this month since we are now at the time of year when the Larch trees are in their “golden glory”. These amazing trees are one of my favorites as they are deciduous pine trees that transfer nutrients from their needles to be stored in the trunk of the tree and then they the needles turn a beautiful citrus golden color and drop off (so they can withstand the heavy winter conditions without losing their tree limbs). They are sometimes referred to as the “Einsteins of the forest”.

What a walk can get out of us

Meseta

I just finished reading a guest essay from the New York Times Opinion section by Francis Sanzaro. The title is “The Next Walk You Take Could Change Your Life”. This article really validated how I have been experiencing my walks in the wild over the last several years. Yet, sadly, for most of my adult life, I have looked at my walks in the wild from the perspective of “what I can get of out it”. I filled my mind with assumptions and expectations and judgments about a particular walk/hike/bike ride or climb. What will I get from this experience in the wild? I would fill my mind with all the beautiful wildflowers, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, mountain views or deep forest beauty that I would was sure “take” from this walk. I was really just viewing my time in nature from a “consumerism mindset”. What I am going to “take” from this walk, like a possession.

“Thinking that something is going to be beautiful does as much damage to a place as thinking it will be ugly.”

Francis Sanzaro

I know one assumption and judgment I made prior to walking the Camino was how “ugly and boring” the flat desert section in the middle of the Camino walk was going to be. It is called the “Meseta” and it takes about a week of walking to get through. I figured there was nothing I could take from walking the Meseta and I would just have to “grin and bear it”. I did not see this desert landscape as “useful” to me. Yet it turned out that there was some “hidden beauty within” this long desert section, I especially loved the feel of spaciousness and the simplicity of the landscape. Growing up on the west side of the Cascade mountains, this was a new experience. I had a new appreciation for the Meseta. You see I needed to stop assuming with my “consumerism mindset” and begin to see with the eyes of intimacy and attentiveness and wonder. I needed to rid myself of assumptions and walk with a open and receptive mindset on what might surprise me next.

“We are asking what we can get out of walk, rather than what a walk can get out of us.”

Francis Sanzaro

We all have probably seen this in how a young child will walk through a place. It takes practice and discipline to walk this way as adults it seems. If we walk with attentiveness and with all our senses alert and alive receiving the wild on its own terms, there is great delight and surprise.

Over the last several years, I have been practicing this way of walking. Receiving and not taking and keeping distractions and my assumptions at the minimum. It has made a significant difference in my life and I highly recommend you try it yourself, if you have not already.

Here are some tips I have learned in this practice:

  1. Learn to “saunter”. Don’t be in a hurry if possible.
  2. Avoid setting too many expectations and assumptions.
  3. Just be present and open and filled with surprise and wonder (like a little child)
  4. If walking with others communicate your desire to walk in this way “childlike way”
  5. Use all your senses. I love to use my sense of touch (be careful here though as it is good to know what the vegetation is that can hurt you, like poison oak)

Now this can take time to learn, to walk in this way through a place. Keep practicing I can tell you it is like opening a gift from a dear friend. You will be surprised and delighted!

Grace and Beauty Abounds!

John

Photographs of the Month

Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth

I mentioned the spaciousness of the Meseta, this image I captured during a beach walk at English Bloom County Park on Camano Island really communicates this idea of spaciousness. As we sauntered along the beach, the reflection of the skies on the calm water was simply spellbinding, even mesmerizing. It is interesting how timing is everything when it comes to a walk in the wild. This beautiful reflecting water and sky was gone within 15 minutes as the wind came up across the water the the gorgeous sky reflections were gone.

I decided to include a second photo for you this month.

Spring Beauty

This “little dainty” flower is called Spring Beauty. Oh, how easy it is to pass right by this little flower if one is not fully attentive and aware. This photo was taken during a hike to Esmeralda Basin in Central Washington. I love this quote by Georgia O’Keefe that speak to the “little flower” and the importance of the element of time when we are walking. Slow down so you can see the “Spring Beauty”!

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is too small. We haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a good friend takes time.”

The Conversation

One of the fun things that happened to us during our Camino walk, was the experience having dialogue, or a “conversation”, all along the walk with so many pilgrims from all over the world. As we slowed, we would make new friends. Other times friends we made during one part of the walk, we would later meet again. The “Camino grapevine” was so real and alive. During a stop or lunch or a coffee, we often would pick up tips from fellow pilgrims. At the end of the walk, there was great joy when we ran into the our pilgrim friends again and learned how the rest of the journey went for them. It is the way of the Camino it seems – It is a conversation.

It seems to me, that all of life, is a conversation with everything. During a recent trip to Northern California, my family and I had a very special experience with an ancient grove of Redwood trees in Humboldt Redwood State Park. We hiked through the Bull Creek/Rockefeller grove. This Rockefeller forest is the largest remaining contiguous old-growth coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forest in the world. These amazing trees soar to immense heights that seem to disappear into the sky above. There is such a different feeling than walking through an old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest due to the spacious feel of the open under story and the carpet of the simple Redwood Sorrel and needles spread out at our feet.

It was a breath-taking and humbling experience. It was as if these magnificent trees we speaking to us. I dare say, that almost anyone that goes there, is likely to changed by the “conversation” with this most “sacred space”. I can not wait to return someday and spend more time having a “deeper conversation” with the Redwood trees of Humboldt Redwood State Park.

During our return home from California, we passed through a section of the Oregon coast where we spent a month this past Spring. It was like having a having a “conversation” with an old friend. We stopped at our favorite beach and ate at one of our favorite restaurants. As we passed by the familiar parts of this coastline that we spent so much time getting to know, the memories flooded back to us. We had such a different conversation then the brief ones we might have if we are simply passing through an area where we never stayed long of enough to have a deeper conversation.

Life is a conversation. Let’s keep this conversation going by really getting to know each other and see our connection to each other. Return to spaces you love to go to over and over during different seasons. Keep the conversation going!

All things are connected,

John

Photograph of the Month

I decided to try a little something different and share a few of the photographs I took during our hike through the Redwoods. I am was really disappointed in my attempt to capture the beauty and awe of these trees. Here is a slideshow of some of the images I captured.

Bull Creek/Rockefeller Grove

What Is Rather Than What Ought To Be

I came across this quote and it seems to have been stuck in my head now for days. I have learned that to pay more attention when this happens, as it may be exactly what I or someone else needs right now. This quote really spoke to me about the importance of nature to tells us “what is”. What is our common ground when the ground beneath our feet is filled with messages telling us “what ought to be…”

The Camino experience is so transformative for many. Could it be because we are immersed for weeks in nature telling us “what is”? Science has been catching up with this quote it seems as they are discovering the idea of “forest bathing” has real medicinal qualities to the point where even doctors are prescribing to spend time in nature.

The other day, after a particularly difficult and disappointing day (we all have them), I had the opportunity to drive up high in the Olympic Mountains (Hurricane Ridge) to take in some “mountain therapy”. It was exactly the medicine I needed. I was out of sorts and even a little angry and yet after an hour up high in the clouds on top of a mountain I slowly began to come back to reality, “what is” not “what ought to be”. I drove home with the music turned up and sang out loud to blow away those smashed expectations.

We are living in a time I read recently where our we are part of a culture that is driving up our emotions when our expectations are smashed or not met. We live in a time where “outrage” is high on our daily agenda and we are getting fed a steady diet of “what out to be” that did or did not happen. Our “industrial outrage media machine” keeps us propelling us forward it seems into more rage and anger at “what ought to be”.

What to do? Get out into nature regularly. Make it at least once a week, if you can. It is our “common ground”. It is “what is”.

Nature blessings,

John

Photograph/Video of the Month

For this post, I offer you a video instead of a photo. I am finding that as I spend more time in nature I am moving more towards creating a video than a photograph as at times it best describes how I am feeling at the moment when I am experiencing the “what is” of nature.

During a wonderful Father’s Day hike to Big Finn Hill park in Kenmore, I took this little video of the unfurled sword fern and a babbling stream.

Big Finn Hill Park Fern

Running from one thing to the next

The Camino has a way. The slow and steady way. You have a simple routine in the morning and evening but all the rest of the day it is just walking. Steady walking. There is no running from the one thing to the next like we were doing so much of in preparation for walking the Camino. The Camino slows you way down.

The Camino can teach us about waiting and watching to all that is being revealed to us in each moment and not being so wrapped up in our “to do” lists. I remember our long list of “to do’s” we had leading up to walking the Camino and then all the sudden there is no need for a “to do” list. There is time to really settle into the beauty of all that is around you. There is time for just “day dreaming” and letting whatever comes be a surprise.

I thought this quote I read really gets to the point I am making of how the Camino can teach us important lessons.

“What is being asked of us in this moment is patient attention; a willingness to slow down, listen, and look; a willingness to let go of our expectations, to accept the possibility that our efforts may not bear any fruit—or at least not in the way we have been hoping that they will.”

Douglas E Christie

Our endless “to do” lists can rule our lives at times as we run from one thing to the next. I experienced this during my many years working as a first line manager at Boeing. Life was so busy and complex and my “to do” list was essential to keep me focused and getting things accomplished. So, walking the Camino right after my retirement created quite a contrast since there was no need for a “to do” list. The Camino slowed down my mind and I began to be more and more present to each moment. I found I really liked this way of living.

I have recently started the practice of not using a “to do” list. I know this is scary for many of you to even consider and in fact might seem crazy. Our present life circumstances do make this strange practice possible as I am retired now and we live in a condo. Yet, although I am not completely “to do” list free, I try and do it as often as I can.

You could even say I am “channeling my inner Camino”!

Blessings,

John

Video of the Month

This past Spring during a visit to William Finley National Wildlife Refuge we had a “Canada Geese Experience”. When we arrived we noticed a huge flock of Canada Geese grazing in the distance. About 20 minutes later the entire flock took off flying. It completely overwhelmed our senses as we fell speechless and in total rapture. We could even hear the beating of their wings at times. I added one of my favorite soaring violin songs to try and approximate this experience which is beyond words to describe. I have to say I found myself playing this video in the morning to lift my spirits and kind of pull me out of myself. I hope you find helpful too!

Our “Canada Geese” Experience Video

Re-spect

People come from all over the world to experience walking the Camino de Santiago and yet the Camino can humble you with the its demands it makes on your body, mind and spirit. The Camino demands our respect.

I recently learned that the French translation of the word “respect” means “to look at a second time”. When we made the decision we were going to try and walk the Camino, we definitely “took a second look” to dig deeper into this long walk. We read books and listened to talks by those who walked it. We began training and preparing months in advance of the walk and then on September 12th, 2014, we started walking the Camino. We had a healthy respect for what we were undertaking.

Within a couple of weeks of walking, we began having problems with our feet and legs. The endurance test of walking 500 miles slowly begins wearing on you. We felt the real lived experience of walking this far. The Camino was forcing us to “look again a second time”, are we crazy we thought? Can we really finish this walk on time to catch our plane home? We had to make adjustments as the physical toll on our bodies was slowing us down and we had made changes to accommodate. We decided we had to catch up with our daily walk schedule and in some cases we took a bus, taxi or a train to get us back on track. We continued to make small changes and adaptations to our routines throughout the walk and when we completed the walk, we felt the joy that could not be described. We finished Camino on October 14th, 2014. The Camino definitely continues to hold our “respect”.

I would like to finish this blog on “re-spect”, with a little different take on this word. You see, I really like this idea of taking a “second look” or taking the time to “re – speculate” on what life presents to us each day. We had an opportunity to practice this recently when we rented a house on the Oregon coast. Everyday we would go out to the local beaches wondering what surprise would we see that day. Like little children, we went back over and over to some of our favorite low tide pool areas. What will we see today? We quickly discovered that “repetition was not redundancy”. We learned that being certain is the enemy of wonder, surprise and awe. We learned that to see with eyes of wonder you needed the “eyes of re-spect”.

May all the world begin to see with the “eyes of re-spect”!

Grace and blessings,

John

Photograph of the Month

High Density Living

Exploring the tide pools of the Oregon coast just south of Newport, Oregon we discovered such plentiful and abundant inter tidal sea life. It seems that the starfish and the anemone don’t mind living in close quarters!

An Age of Forgetting

We live in what we might call an age of forgetting. We have forgotten who we are in relation to everything else: the creatures, the plants, the mountains, the forests, the oceans, one another, and even ourselves… One of the fruits of contemplative practice is the remembrance of our wholeness; we are able to see past the divisions we create with our egos and minds and to rediscover the truth that we are all of one creation.

Christine Valtners Paintner

This quote got me to thinking how the Camino de Santiago does a good job of reconnecting us to what we have forgotten, “who we are in relation to everything…” That is what can happen to us when we spend an extended time outside in the mountains, forests and the flat open spaces of Spain. Time spent outdoors in the natural landscapes has a way of bringing one back into connection with nature. We do live in a time when where it is far to easy to forget this connection, especially when we spend so much time indoors.

free ranging horses of Spain

I love it when I am in outdoors and I come across animals in the wild. On the first day of our walk, in the high mountain meadows of the Pyrenees mountains, we came across free-ranging pigs, horses and sheep. Although, I was huffing and puffing as I ascended over the mountain pass, the sight of these free ranging animals slowed me to a stop and I gazed in wonder at something new I had not seen before. What is it that captures our attention when we pass by these creatures roaming the high meadows of the Pyrenees mountains?

Free ranging white pig of Spain – source of famous Jamon Serrano Ham

Actress Jane Fonda, was asked once why she became a person of faith. She replied:

“I could sense a reverence humming in me”

I like that thought. Maybe all of creation contains a reverent humming within and that is why I feel so connected to the wildlife I come across in nature? I have discovered that the more I am able to still my mind and be present to the moment, the more in tune I am with the “humming within” myself as well as with all of creation. Yet, I have to admit, I am not able to sustain this for long before my head begins to fill with racing thoughts and distractions. So, maybe this is what Christine Valters Paintner meant when she said we are living in a time “we might call the age of forgetting”?

So, what do we do to keep from forgetting? Maybe it is simple, we just need to remember it is enough to simply slow down and be present and observant to all the “humming” going on around us as we pass through the many different landscapes. It is enough, maybe, to just sit and listen to the babbling of a mountain stream, or to be touched by the play of the light and shadows changing on the ripples of a mountain lake. I suspect this the medicine we need to find our “wholeness”.

“We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us.”

Andrew Harvey

How can what we ignore save us in the end? Well, that beautiful mountain stream continues lunging down the rocks and into the valley below long after I am gone. The sheep, pig and horses that are free ranging across the meadows of the Pyrenees will continue to find rest and nourishment apart from any consideration of my having passed that way.

Becoming present to a reality entirely separate from own world of turmoil strangely seems to set us free. In the very act of ignoring us, the landscape is inviting us out of our frantic quest for self-fulfillment.

I have a great fondness for John Muir. He lived life with such a beautiful understanding of our connection to all creation. This quote was from his time when he was working and living in Yosemite valley.

“I drifted from rock to rock, from stream to stream, from grove to grove…. When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make it acquaintance and hear what it had to tell…. I asked the boulders I met, where they came and wither they were going.”

I hope you find “a minute or a day” to find a connection with the “humming” that is going on all around you in nature.

Blessings abound,

John

Photograph of the Month

Here is a video that captures the slow moving late evening light and shadow on the snow covered peaks on Hurricane Ridge. I was mesmerized by how fast the shadows on the mountain peaks we moving up to the tops of the ridge as the evening sunlight was fading. It is about two minutes long and has some music from O’Jizo (a Japanese Celtic Band).

Mountain Light and Shadow Play

Walk Not Sit

“Sit as little as possible; do not believe any idea that was not born in the open air and of free movement.”

Fredrick Nitchike

The one thing about walking the Camino de Santiago, is there is not a whole lot of sitting. It is mostly walking in open air or laying down to sleep. Our time walking the Camino, gave us a rich opportunity to spend the majority of our waking hours outdoors. I have always loved my time in nature and the Camino was an extended opportunity to enjoy weeks of time outdoors.

Not long after I began my career as an engineer at the Boeing Company, I began to realize how much time I was sitting and spending my days indoors. I knew that somehow this was not good and I even jokingly referred to it as “sitting death”.

The human species has dwelt outside for hundreds of thousands of years. We are deeply imprinted by this in our evolution as a human organism. I believe this is why when I need to be restored and renewed in body and mind, I go outside into nature, to walk in a forest or along the shoreline. It heals me and restores my mental resources.

There is a fair amount of research these days that backs up this important reality, nature heals. It is so important to get outdoors and watch a sunset, or the ripples on the water and even small amounts of time each day count. Yet, if we can arrange it, longer times spent in nature, can change how we think. In the long Camino walk, I found I was becoming less anxious and a calm came over me. I was no longer thinking about my “to do” list. Fewer decisions and choices were demanded of me which then freed my mind to follow thoughts wherever they may lead. My best and most creative ideas have come during my long walks in nature. The longer time I get, the more mental equilibrium I establish and the better my thinking becomes.

I learned recently learned that researchers have a term for how time in nature can relief stress and restore our mental resources, it is called “Environmental Self-Regulation”. It is the process of psychological renewal that our brains cannot accomplish on their own.

Today it is estimated that we are spending only 7 percent of our time outdoors. No wonder we are frazzled, fatigued and prone to distraction! Landscape architect, Frederick Law Omsted, spent his life helping to create beautiful nature spaces, like New York’s Central Park to help us all have a place for some “environmental self regulation”. He said,

“Natural scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.”

I hope you make some time each day for some refreshing rest and reinvigoration in nature. It is what our brains and bodies need and as a result it is where out best thinking it done.

Blessings abound in all,

John

Photograph of the Month

Nature’s Vastness

This image evokes vastness to me. It makes me feel the closeness of the trees and yet the unfathomable expanse of the universe.

I was inspired last year with this words that just seem to fit the image.

The Dance of Life

When we merge our internal rhythms with the rhythms of creation, we develop grace in our movement, and without thought or effort we are able to slide into the perfectly choreographed dance of life.

by Sherri Mitchell (Penobscot), an attorney and activist for environmental protection and human rights.

It has now been 7 years since Terri and I walked the Camino de Santiago and as we age, both of us are more grateful each year, for having completed the walk. The Camino is extremely demanding and takes a toll on our bodies. When we are younger we can endure a lot physical stress for longer and as we age this “endurance capability” erodes. This has been my reality these days, as my range of walking, has been greatly reduced due to some physical changes in my body. So, what am I do with this new reality? I have chosen to see it as part of the “perfectly choreographed dance of life”.

What does that look like? It means I have found meaning in my internal changes to my body as I am seeing them part of the rhythm of creation. I try and greet the changes I am experiencing, as my “dance partner”. I dance with my pain, so to speak. (caveat – I am not talking about high levels of pain. I am speaking more of our “everyday types of pain” that many of us experience in our lives.)

It turns out that, walking the Camino, was a “dance with the pain” as well. We noticed a large portion of those that walk the Camino, end up experiencing blisters on their feet. They are hard to avoid and they can definitely end your Camino walk early if you don’t stop and treat the blisters and rest. As the photo at the top of this blog shows, some folks dumped the boots they started with and found other solutions (like sandals) to continue their Camino walk.

Terri also “danced with the pain of a stress fracture” in her ankle for a good majority of the walk. It meant that we had to “slow dance” more and reduce our walking pace and length and we took more rest days to accommodate the pain.

Since the Camino has a bigger historical story going back over a 1000 years, it is not hard to see the physical Camino pains as dance with the larger “Camino pain story”. We knew that our pain stories were also experienced by many others before us.

French philosopher, Gabriel Marcel, is famously quoted as saying:

 “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.”

I have discovered it is better to dance with my “pain” as my framework for the changes I am experiencing in my body. Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, speaks of the necessary “integration of the negative”. I realize this might sound really strange but I am finding that it is a very helpful way to “live this mystery of life”.

Grace and Peace,

John

Photograph of the Month

Daisy Dancing

This flower image was captured during delightful summer hike by myself last year at Mt Rainier National Park. I hit the perfect timing for the peak meadow flower bloom and I sat down several times and just gazed for some time at the meadow flowers dancing in the wind.

Video of the Month

Dancing with the Meadow Flowers

Speaking of Mt Rainier meadow flowers dancing in the wind, I took a number of videos that day in the summer of 2020 of the meadow flowers. I took some of the videos and added one of my favorite songs that I feel fit well with these “dancing flowers”.

Take Your Time

“Nothing can be done well at a speed of forty miles a day…” John Muir

In planning stages for walking the Camino, we were following the guidebook most everyone used called “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” by John Brierley. It had you walking at about 15 miles/day for about 5 weeks with a few days of rest. We decided to try and follow the guidebooks recommendation. Terri and I did finish the walk but we had to walk quite a bit slower and in places had to take some transportation to catch up to our schedule we had planned. In hindsight, I think we would have targeted a slower pace and only walked about 10 miles a day.

As I have aged, my pace and distance I can walk have been reduced, I am finding the joy of walking slowly and purposefully with the eyes of my heart open to all I see. I believe that is exactly what John Muir means by the quote at the top of this blog.

When I was in my 20’s, I climbed a number of the major peaks here in Washington State and I had the following John Muir quote on my desk at work:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flowers into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

This quote has always been with me and to this day I find it one of my all time favorites. To really experience nature’s goodness and beauty and peace, one has to slow down and take your time. This was true on the Camino, the more pressed we were to make the mileage of the day, the more we likely missed out on the beauty right around us. It seems to get the “good tidings” of nature we have to slow down for “nothing is done well” when we are rushing to get somewhere.

We all need to take our time when it comes to our time in nature. I can definitely tell you it is worth it!

May Nature’s Peace be with you,

John

Photograph of the Month

Huckleberry Speak

Oh, how I love the Huckleberry. It gives us delicious fruit to eat and it is lovely to look at as well with its contrasting colors of fall. I captured this during a hike to the Ice Caves this summer. I was walking real slow and taking it all in every step of the way. (By the way the bridge is still out over the Stillaquamish River to the Ice Caves. We waited till late summer when the water level was at its lowest to ford the river.)