Cloister in Los Arcos on the Camino de Santiago

Cloister in Los Arcos on the Camino de Santiago

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

There's something beyond us
And something between us
An invisible thread
In the Milky Way
That gathers and scatters
That joins and divides us.

The pattern of God
So near and so reaching
Beyond touching and seeing
At the pit of our being.

Asleep yet awake
Mute but yet talking
Immobile, still coursing
Each second, each day.

We see him in children
The blind and the ag-ed
In hope and in anguish
Through love and through care.

He's here and he's nowhere
Both now and forever
The gate is marked hope
Past the wall of despair.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Time - our retreating, depleting asset

(Photo: Our Lady's Island Lake, Co Wexford, January 2017).

Time bleeds out of every hour
With every year, a limb removed.
The beating hourglass
Drains the sands of life -
Imperceptibly flowing out;
Far, far away
From here and now -
To never flow
Back home again.

The tide has run
Without return.
Looking out the window
Of such short lives
We fail to gather, savour
The dear sweet moments
Dropping silently away
Stolen before our very eyes -
Strangers now and always.

The bank of time
Is running down
Deposits draining out the door.
That revolving door turns one way only
Spinning out our days
Of ordinary and not so ordinary lives.

Precious seconds
To be embraced
And now,

And now.

Portugal Beckons in May 2017!

(Photo - Bray-Greystones with Claire, Aido and Daniel)

The dice is thrown - again!

Is going to be the Portuguese Camino in May, at the second time of trying.

It may be only Barry and I walking from Porto to the Spanish/Portuguese border where we hope to be joined by Fraser, Gail, Lorraine and possible others.

We are busy doing our research with the help of the excellent travel guide by the wonderful John Brierley.

It was Einstein who opined that 'coincidences were God's way of staying anonymous'. My coincidence of the week was at our  AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) meeting last night when a volunteer who had returned after some years absence mentioned she was considering walking the 'Camino Portugues' at Easter! What are the chances? Especially the lesser known Portuguese route!

Hard to believe that four years will have elapsed since we made our way from Sarria to Santiago and six years since did the first stages from St. Jean Pied de Port! The stages are likely to be shorter and the meals longer this time round.

I have just renewed my membership of the Camino Society of Ireland where I hope to pick up our pilgrim passports ahead of the trip.

Portugal will be a new challenge and a new delight. I am looking forward to a full day in Porto ahead of the walk when with Barry's help we hope to complete a trip up the river Duoro by boat and return by train. Then onto Vila do Conde by the coastal route, even using the beach. I hope the tide is out. The following four days should see us meander through the pretty countryside, stopping at Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Rubiaes before arriving at Valenca on one side of the river Mino and Tui on the Spanish side.

After a day in Tui when we hope to catch up with the newly arrived pilgrim we will spend the following five days making our way to Santiago.

The pilgrimage will be both an act of gratitude for still being here with the help of pills and doctors and an act of hope for the future. There are many to think of on this trip, especially those who soldiered with us before and those bravely combating illness.

Now, back to the maps...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 10 Saturday – Buen Camino! 11th May 2013

Side Church – Cathedral of Santiago

I sat in silence for over an hour in the exquisite peace of this church, one of many off the main nave of the great Cathedral. Away from the click of tourist photos and rituals of organised prayer it was an occasion of grace and beauty. 

Caught in the reflection are two of the many candles we lit along the way and at the end of the Camino for loved ones, near and far.

Unfinished business.

We all hope to return to the Camino in the coming years.

Lorraine and I are talking of a family Camino next year. I hear talks of the Portuguese Camino, of the Northern route, of  the Primitive route, of returning to Pamplona, our favourite city, perhaps.

We do not find the Camino, it finds us.

The Camino calls.

It has changed each one of us. We each have made a little resolution to do something we had not planned ahead of the 2013 Camino.

Thank you, Joe, Josephine, Brian, Phil and Barry.

Buen Camino!

Day 9 Another special day in Santiago Friday 10th 2013


View of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from the Park de Almeda

Friday was a fantastic day. It was the first day in eight we had not begun by packing our gear. We had a ‘lie in’ and arrived down to the hotel restaurant for a lazy breakfast at 8.30. I renamed the excellent hotel receptionist Marta, calling her –‘Santa Marta, de siempre aqui’ – ‘Saint Martha, always here’ - in acknowledgement of her being present in the hotel day and night, or so it seemed. She gave us the name and addresses of better, less expensive restaurants away from the tourist trap trail of yesterday.

Mel from Manchester

And me.

I could not attend the annual Frontline  Defenders awards ceremony which coincided with the Camino so I decided instead to wear their tee shirt. A number of pilgrims decided to look up the cause on the web on their return. Mel from Manchester took a more direct approach and produced a generous donation of sterling which is somewhere in the bottom of my rucksack. As soon as I unpack, I will send it into Charlie Lansom in Frontline in Blackrock. He will get bigger donations this year, I hope, but few more travelled.


Botafumeiro – the giant incense burner in the Cathedral of Santiago – at the Mass for Priests

Phil and I were greeted by Brian and Barry as they emerged from the 12.00 noon Pilgrims Mass. They had witnessed the star event in Santiago, the lighting of the giant thurible which we had expected yesterday at our own Pilgrims Mass. Being Ascension Thursday we expected fireworks, literally, but got none.

But we were in for a surprise. Today was the feast of St. John of Avila, better known to us as St. John of the Cross who is the patron saint of priests, in Spain at least. We decided to attend the 1.00pm Mass and were treated to two bishops and somewhere between one and two hundred priests, and wonderful singing. Happy memories of my days in the Monastery flooded back to the echoes of Gregorian chant. As the Botafumeiro flew over our heads we just hoped the lad on the rope wasn’t having a bad day.

Day 8 Santiago – Pilgrims Mass – Thursday 9th May 2013

Did I say our lodgings were damp on our first night in Santiago?

As usual we were up early and packed by 8.00 am and we moved to more expensive but vastly superior accommodation in the Hotel de Aliaga on Rua Aliaga Arriba, about five minutes from the Cathedral.

Taking no chances, Phil and I took our places in the Cathdedral at 10.30 for the 12.00 noon Pilgrims Mass. We were hoping to see the giant thurible, the Botafumeiro in action. Despite it being Ascension Thursday, sadly we did not.  I enjoyed the serenity of the Cathedral, other than the rock band warming up outside in the Cathedral Square during the Mass.

But it was cold, very cold inside. So much that when we repaired to a café I added an amaretto to it on purely medicinal grounds.

Barry, Josephine and Joe in the picture, and myself (taking the picture) decided to go on a tour of the Museum and the Cathedral. It was money very well spent. Later on, we were about to embark on a roof top tour of the Cathedral when the rock band struck up again and we could not hear ourselves. The apologetic guides returned our ticket prices. It seemed they enjoyed the noise even less than we did.

View from the cloister. We were impressed by the Cathedral. So much so we shelved the idea of spending the next day in A Coruna in favour of exploring further the delights of Santiago and its many churches.

Day 7 Santiago de Compostela –at last!

From left to right: Vivienne (Dublin), Barry, Mel (Manchester), Padraic, Denise (Manchester).

This was our last coffee stop on the Camino before reaching Santiago. Vivienne had suffered our hospitality and had clearly assumed the coast was clear, but we were to meet again in Santiago.

Barry looking very debonair on the hill overlooking Santiago. Earlier in the day we had walked past the Airport perimeter and past the hill Monte de Gozo. This was our first sighting of the Cathedral city. We were incredulous and disappointed at the lack of signage from hereon into the city centre. Whereas every town and village, however humble, along the way had showered us with yellow arrows and markings, it seemed as if Santiago itself had dismissed the Camino as an awkward distraction.

Fortunately the beauty and atmosphere of Santiago more than made up for the lack of signs and the abundance of rain. It is a truly wonderful city. A University city full of students and laughter. A holy city full of history and devotion. A city full of cafes and bars.