Camino de Santiago

Month: September, 2015

Our Common Home

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With the visit by Pope Francis to America coming this week, I thought it was appropriate that I write this week on the “Care of our Common Home”  (the title of his recent encyclical) and the importance of listening and acting.

Pope Francis calls the earth “Our Common Home” that we share with all creatures. His letter also gives this important message we all need to remember:

The climate, water, soil, and air nurture all. Creation is given by God as a gift; it is not ultimately an object of commerce or exploitation. As a species endowed with reason, we must not allow our home to “loom more and more like a immense pile of filth”. It is not good enough to talk all night and sigh at the dawn. After listening, we must act.

In walking the  Camino, one really becomes in tune with nature because you are immersed in it for the majority of the 5 weeks of walking. This 500 miles section of Spain has great diversity of climate and terrain. We walked through a lot of very rural farmland and literally shared the trail with cattle, horses, pigs and sheep. You really do feel the special connection we all have with nature. This is something that I feel is a special benefit of this walk. Since I have returned home from the Camino, I have tried to maintain this by hiking year round at least one day a week to keep alive this wonderful “common home” connection I feel.

The other part of this message from Pope Francis is the importance of first listening and then taking action. It is not just good enough to talk all night and sigh at the dawn.

I read something yesterday that really spoke to me on this subject of listening, it said:

“Listeners want to changed by the words of others.” (David Farina Turnbloom)

Boy, this was something I was a little uncomfortable with frankly when I read this. It is not easy to listen like this. Far too often, when I am supposedly listening to someone, I am preoccupied with my own agenda and I am if I am honest with myself I am not open to change.

I decided I need to be a better listener. I need to take some concrete steps to make this “Common Home” we share better. Any step we take in this direction is better than no step.

I have felt called to service since I retired in helping maintain and build our trails that I have enjoyed using all my life here in the Northwest. Yet I have fallen into the problem of talking about it and then not taking any action. It is time to for me to take action now. I have decided once I finished writing this this blog today, I am going to sign up for a Washington Trails Association work party!

May you also be inspired to really listen and take action!



Camino Pano of the Week

Love that sky

The first rain we got on our trip occurred about 2 weeks into our walk as we were walking from Belarado to Villafranca. We we so happy to actually put on our rain gear for the first time. We felt right at home. (Interesting fact: this image was taken 1 year ago this Tuesday!)

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No Finish Line

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When one walks the Camino, there is a clear “finish line” – the Cathedral in the city of Santiago de Compostela. It is the end of the Camino. We had prepared ourselves well and done a lot of training to be able to walk that far and get to the “finish line”. What a joy it was indeed to reach that Cathedral and to conclude this long journey.

I mentioned in a past blog post, about a book on habits I was reading called “Better than Before”. It has a chapter called “No Finish Line”. What this chapter goes into is the problem with rewards when we are trying to create new habits and become someone “better than before”. It mentions how the reward of a finish line can have a particularly bad effect sometimes. I am sure those of you that have dieted, recognize this problem. Dieting has an abysmal track record. “According to a review of studies of the long-term effect of calorie-restricting diets, one-third to two-thirds of people who dieted eventually regained more weight than they initially lost.” The problem of the “finish line” or “goal weight” is once we achieve our goal we slide back into our old habits again.

One of the keys of setting a “finish line” or goal is to avoid the danger of seeing your reward as the stopping point which means you are starting again and starting a gain is hard. It is much better to find our rewards that occur as the natural consequence of the habits themselves. Our best strategy it would seem then is for us to realize that when we are starting to create a new habit/mind set change we should not establish a “finish line”. Maybe our best approach is to realize there is “no finish line”. We are changing the way we live for the better!

Camino Pano of the Week

Eucalyptus – Watch Them Grow!

This grove of Eucalyptus trees was on our last day of walking. They are not native trees and are a crop tree. They grow very fast and are easy to harvest. The problem is they take lots of water. This has turned out to be a real problem for Spain.

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