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August 17, 2017

Peace Pilgrim

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Pure love is a willingness to give without a
thought of receiving anything in return."
-Peace Pilgrim

As I consider my pilgrimage ahead I am thinking of the Peace Pilgrim.  
Peace Pilgrim
She traveled with nothing. Well maybe a pen, a comb, and her mail. She joked she returned her letters very quickly. She walked for peace. She walked through the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam war. She was really happy with absolutely nothing but the willingness to manifest peace here among us as her mission. She said she would only eat when food was offered. She sometimes went 3-4 meals without food which she was quite cheerful about when she spoke of it. She said she would not stop until there was peace here in the world. She walked with her message across America, she walked into Canada and Alaska, she walked into Mexico, she criss-crossed America at least seven times. I think what strikes me the most about her is her radiant inner light. She said she never had any aches and pains but when I saw this dear woman's shoes my heart lurched. These runners could not have 
protected her feet very well or supported her ankles. Surely her feet burned. Yet this is what this precious person wanted. She was interviewed and filmed by the press, often spoke at churches, schools and universities. In the end she was hit by a car. She wasn't walking. It was a mercy in a way for she died instantly and no doubt she would still be walking for peace is needed now here more than ever. With the headlines these days I think of her as if maybe by being peaceful in myself it can somehow permeate the world much as a moth's wing can influence the spheres. Can thoughts change the world? I think about her as I worry about minor things really, like how many band aids to take and should I carry laundry powder and try to keep angst in perspective. When I consider her surety, her inner joy, how she influenced so many people by such a means and with such simplicity I feel bolstered by her humble example. I walk and I hope to deepen the peace in myself, in those I meet, and now more than ever on this most amazing and beautiful planet.  

August 11, 2017

Fairy Doors

By Maryanna Gabriel

     I have been trying to improve my cardio by going up a mountain nearby. Of course there are trolls where I live, that is an immediate given, however, there is a section of the population here on this island that is quite gaga about fairies. No kidding. As I happily climbed a steeper pitch, I came across this note. 
Note From The Fairie Queen

"Dear Forest Explorer,
I am a mole fairy. We live in the crags of the rocks and the roots of the trees. If you listen carefully to the wind you will hear us whisper.
xxx Fairie Queen xxx

     I cautiously looked around and listened. It did seem as though there was a shift here. I walked on paying attention.

Fairy House (For Summer?)
Crag Dwelling
Right now the arbutus is shedding in great big sheets of red and brown and the forest is littered with their leaves and bark. It has an August smell. To me August has a specific smell, a bit like corn
and blackberries, dry forest, and the morning air feels different in that it is perhaps a little sharper. The smoke from the forest fires to the north is still pervading the sky in an eerie haze and the sun and the moon beam through in startling shades of red. I walk farther and come across fairy houses. I stop to ponder them. 

Official Elf Door

     The path rises to a mossy covered outlook. The view is spectacular. I turn and behind me is an "official" elf door. I stare at it. Someone has stolen the curtains. Have they? It seems less somehow as if the door knocker was missing or something. I see little curios that hikers had left. I notice a breeze and I am thankful for that.


August 9, 2017

Twenty Kilometers

By Maryanna Gabriel

Definition of pilgrim.
1 : one who journeys in foreign lands : wayfarer.

2 : one who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee

 - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    I had done it at least. This heat is too much. After reaching twenty kilometers and carrying twenty pounds I just wanted to die. I had to think about this. Really and truly it
Twenty Kilometers
was too much. I could also feel how my leg and hip were not aligned. I recognized more work was needed and so I have visited someone who practices a "tonal chiropractic" and works with muscles. She skillfully went over my body and asked me some really good questions. My problems are stemming from two war wounds. One where I fell through a glass table from a bunk and damaged my lower spine on the metal frame that housed the glass. The other was a severely damaged ankle from Alfonso the Ram. I have re-injured that ankle since and it is my weak point. She said that it was affecting everything. She correctly outlined my muscular symptoms and my trust in her immediately deepened. As she worked on me I heard little "ting" noises. I have been feeling a lot better. My knees are responding beautifully. These sessions really knock me out. I think it is because the entire nervous system is connected with what is happening. There is hope.

    I have been thinking about that ram. I was looking after a neighbour's farm. She warned me he would try to get into the garden and one day I left it open to get water. The ram made a run for it and so did I. He beat me and bunted me so hard I was thrown up into the air and when I came down I was winded. When I opened my eyes he was standing over me in a testosterone induced state of excitation. In defense, I rolled away from under him but found my ankle was purple and bleeding profusely. I had to crawl. I crawled about two hundred yards to the house phone. It took me a very long time to do so. The phone was busy. And busy. Busy. I called the operator and asked her to break in, that it was an emergency. My daughter came with the car and got me to the hospital. I was in a bad way. The woman who owned the ram seemed annoyed by the incident and annoyed by me. I have decided she is an unusual person in that animals are more important than people. Apparently, it was all my fault. I should have this and I should have that. She said Alfonso was going to become a rug but I never knew if this was true or not. Needless to say we are not friends. As Annie Lamott, an American writer says, if you didn't want me to write about you then you should have been a lot nicer to me. Then again, I have changed the name of the ram. 

August 3, 2017

Spiritual Preparation

By Maryanna Gabriel 

"... for all of those who walk to God with me." - A Course In Miracles

     My new hat has arrived and I like it much better. I have had to throw the Nutella into the bin given that I don't think it is a body building food source and something I should be horking back by the tablespoon as I return from my walks. I have felt the need to go inward seeking quiet at this point as I think about what I am about to do. I am realizing we have recently passed Saint James Day.

means Saint James. Compostela means field of stars. The apostle James was found in a field of stars hence the explanation for the name of the destination for this famous pilgrimage. James was the brother of John, the John who wrote the Book Of Revelations from the Greek Island of Patmos. Apparently they were affectionately known in their day by Christ as the Thunder Brothers, being a bit heavy handed in their dealings. As with a lot of people who hung around at the time, they would change. John became John, The Beloved or John The Divine, the only apostle brave enough to stand by Christ's crucifixion in the end and the only apostle who was not martyred. James had to escape Jerusalem. It was a confusing and chaotic time.


James came across the Mediterranean to Spain and preached. It didn't go very well and it seems he did not convert many. I heard in a talk that in twelve years he converted seven people. For some reason (maybe he was lonely) he returned to Jerusalem and in AD 44 was beheaded by Herod. His body was thrown over city walls. He was brought back to Spain by his disciples by boat. There was a plot in place by the Romans to destroy his body. In a harrowing escape and a story that is also embellished with the miraculous they eventually laid him to rest in Santiago. His grave lay forgotten.

     In the centuries that ensued, Spain struggled with Moorish domination from North Africa. In 813 A.D. a shepherd named Pelayo had a vision and was drawn by a bright light,a star, to the resting place. 
The bishop of the day seized the story as one of the church's own and consecrated the sacred site. Word got around. It is said that the vision of James appeared to soldiers as they defended Spain. He became a patron saint, Saint James. With the tomb becoming known, many throughout Europe in the Middle Ages made the dangerous pilgrimage to this final resting place and the Cathedral was built and added to. Saint Francis of Assisi was one who made this pilgrimage as did a few kings. It was a difficult time in history and people were often robbed. The Templars assembled along the route with one mission being that of protecting defenseless pilgrims. These knights were later tortured and killed. Because of the pilgrimage's historical value the entire walk is a UNESCO world heritage site. Today, 200,000 to 250,000 people per annum are doing the Camino Frances. As of June of this year, 2017, there are 12,000 more pilgrims at this time than last year according to the website of the Canadian Company Of Pilgrims. 

August 1, 2017

Letter From Ages

By Maryanna Gabriel 

     Accommodation being very much on my mind with so many people walking and given that I am going at the peak of this traffic I was thinking about how to steer things. I had read about a very small place in Ages that sounded quite nice. There seemed no way to email so after some thought I wrote a letter. I managed it in Spanish. Would it be alright, I wrote, if I stayed at the Casa you offer peregrinos. I let her know the date I would be arriving out of courtesy, of course.

     Here is her reply in perfect English. 

     "Dear Maryanna, 

     One step after another. This is the best plan. Just let the way decide for you. I [sic] am not doing this anymore and one of the reasons why it is no more is the change of attitude: planning ahead, sending your backpack ahead, mobiles, walking in big groups etc. I hope you will start the Camino with a different attitude...."
     Hmm. Senora, I thought to myself, not to be disrespectful but isn't it hard when things are one way and then they change to another? Technology is an adjustment we all deal with. The letter helped me to see how some people may be feeling who live in Spain. I wondered if she herself had walked the Camino and I thought, probably not. 

    When I was young and brave I set out with my backpack with another friend and we travelled in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa for almost a year and that cost me $1,100. There was no internet and we often did not know where we would be sleeping. We slept in some pretty weird places, believe me. I don't really have anything to prove to the universe, to myself, or anybody else who felt they wanted to listen. More to the point is that so many attempt the walk ie so many are asking themselves what the issues are in their life as they do so, be they physical, emotional or spiritual. It is a phenomenon. A good one.

      Fortunately for me I was not born to please someone who writes to me from the other side of the world on how I should be doing things. As far as I am aware the only requirement for the certificate at the end of walk is doing the last 100 kilometers and acquiring two stamps or sellos a day in the credencial or Camino passport we all carry. I won't be deliberately making life more difficult for myself, thanks. The reply is appreciated though and all the very best to you.