Monday, May 30, 2016

I think this has to be my all time favorite poem...

The Road Goes Ever OnBy JRR Tolkein

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still 'round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

I  love this poem because it is all about pilgrimage, or quest, I think.  And, as you travel with the writer, you see the stages of pilgrimage--the eager beginning, the dudgeonly middle, and the end when you rest a bit, then beckon others to join you.  Lastly, it alludes to the eternal pilgrimage that all of us are on, and the final end that all of us must grapple with.

As I prepare for my own pilgrimage, it seems appropriate that I am reading the beginning of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy aloud so that my dogs have something with my voice to listen to while I'm gone.  I seem to take something new out of these books every time that I read them.  And, as an added bonus, I was re-introduced to this poem a few chapters ago.

Ultreia, everyone, Ultreia, until we all take those hidden paths.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Leaving Thursday....

As it gets closer and closer to my departure, I find myself scrambling to get everything done that I need to in order to be ready for my trip, and my To-Do list fluctuates daily...Some days I find myself adding 2 items for every one that I cross off, and then some days, I am able to make a sizable dent in the stuff to do.

Even so, there will likely be things that won't get done, and that is ok.  What is really important will be completed, and the less important things will fall by the wayside: this, too is part of the pilgrimage process.  You tend to find what is essential very quickly when you are carrying everything on your back for hours on end, just as you figure out what "ABSOLUTELY MUST BE DONE" while the "kinda sorta would be nice" fall off the list when time becomes short.  I wonder if this is how people with terminal illness feel--the important things sift their way to the top.

One of my AMBD items is to ask for prayer requests.  If anyone has something that they would like me to pray about for them while I'm walking, please send them to me...only one request per person, please.  I will keep them as my intentions for my pilgrimage.

My prayer request list so far--in the front flap of my journal.
I can't promise that I will pray for each intention every day, but I will be praying for at least a few every day.  

My rock from my front yard and my journal--the rock kind of looks like a human heart.
Last time, I took rocks from all of my friends as well, and then ended up not being able to stop at the Cruz de Ferro to lay them down.  This time, all I'm taking is my own, since it will be more than enough weight for my poor feet and back, but I'm still carrying all of you with me through your prayer requests and through my thoughts of you as I go.

Please keep me in your prayers as well--first that I can get everything done that I need to before I leave; Second that I can stay fit and healthy throughout my trip; and thirdly, that the classes that I'm supposed to teach this summer will "make"--they get cancelled if there are less than 20 students in a class, and only one class is currently anywhere near that number.

I'm looking forward to walking this journey with all of you.  I hope you are looking forward to it, too.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What AM I looking for? or, "Ditch the plan, Ruth!"

This was one of my favorite songs from growing up:

At least part of the reason why I like the song is that it captures the essence of Wanderlust for me...That elusive feeling that you don't know what it is, but you are missing something.

As I'm about 10 days away from my second Camino, I'm a little perplexed as to why I'm going.  I really don't have any burning questions to ask God, and I don't really have any kind of spiritual or psychological healing that I feel I need.  I'm in my dream job, I'm part of an awesome parish, I get to go to Adoration 2x/ week, and I (and the bank) own my home.  I don't have that feeling of missing something, and honestly, that is something that I tend to feel at the two year mark of any position I've ever been in before.

I can honestly say that I'm content--or maybe blessed and grateful are better terms for what I'm feeling.  Which brings me back to the question, "Why am I going? What am I looking for?"

I know that I've been called to do this Camino, and I AM looking forward to it, even though I know that it won't be anything like the first one. For one, I will be working as I go--I will be teaching all summer long online.  This means that I will be more plugged in to what is going on in the world as well, since I have to stay on top of emails, etc.  I'm also going to be tuned into every little thing my body tells me, and I know that, if my body tells me to, I will be skipping to the end.  I don't anticipate that happening, but it is a possibility.  I also know that, if things go really south, the pilgrim's office in Santiago are always looking for volunteers, so I could very well end up most or part of the summer volunteering until my plane trip home.

Even so, I really wonder what this Camino will be like, and how it will be the same/different from the last one.  Something that many pilgrims say is the phrase, "The Camino Provides."  As a Catholic Christian, I believe that it is God providing what we need through the intercession of St. James, but, based on my experience, those of us who are Christians and doing this as a spiritual exercise are in the minority.  No matter what, you often find yourself at the right place at the right time, and you get exactly what you need to be encouraged/helped/taught along the way.  Also, the lessons you learn may or may not be the ones that you start your trek hoping to learn.

Actually, I suspect that God really wants to teach me about His provision this trip: every time I start to think about where I might want to end my stages or figure out mileage or make sure that I have enough time to finish the full Camino, I feel like the Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear, "Ditch the plan, Ruth. Trust Me."  And, that is why I think that God hasn't laid some burning question on my heart or my mind.  My job is to be open to whatever lesson He wants to teach me.

With that in mind, I'm on the lookout for a short prayer that I can pray daily while on the Camino, and which reflects that openness.  If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

And, one good song from my childhood deserves another.  This is also my prayer:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

28 Days!!!

I'm getting closer to the end of the semester, but more importantly, I'm getting closer to my Camino.  Things are coming in that I need for my trip...

The order of the Mass in English and Spanish

My Pilgrim's Passports (I need two, since I will be in Spain for so long).
I'm gathering my things for my trip, and I'm figuring out what I'm planning taking on my trip.  Things will be a bit different this time around as I will be teaching online for the duration, so there are also a few things that I'm going to need to take with me that I didn't the first time around. I'm using what I learned from the first time around and my backpack is weighing in at 13.6 lbs, including everything in the following picture:

The only thing missing is what I will be wearing, and some of my meds.

My packing list:
  • one Osprey backpack with a rain cover
  • one pair Oofos for wearing after my hike is done
  • one fleece sleeping bag and net case
  • one silk sleeping bag liner
  • one sarong
  • one neck pillow
  • one massaging ball to help with keeping my feet in fine form
  • half of a composition book (for taking notes while grading speeches--I will be throwing away paper as I use it, so that it will be less weight as I go along)
  • one lightweight jacket
  • one water resistant windbreaker
  • one emergency poncho if it really starts raining
  • 2 sets of clothing containing:
    • one thin pair of socks
    • one thick pair of socks
    • one sports bra
    • one pair hiking underwear
    • one short-sleeved running shirt
    • one pair of running capris
    • one gallon size ziplock bag
  • one old-fashioned ice bag (to help keep my feet iced--ice is readily available at the bars and cafes along the way)
  • One collapsible water bottle
  • 2 journals--One in my backpack, and one in my fanny pack for while I'm writing in it.  I will send it home once the first is full.
  •  One quart size ziplock bag full of toiletries: 
    • one full bar of soap
    • one full size bar of solid deoderant
    • one razor
    • one toothbrush
    • one travel size toothpaste
    • one travel size shampoo
    • one travel size conditioner
    • leftover bug spray from my last camino
    • one bottle sun screen
    • one comb
    • 2 hair ties (in case I lose one)
    • one bandana
  • One rosary
  • One baseball cap
  • All of my meds:
    • qnasl
    • cetirizine
    • Allegra
    • ranitidine
    • singulair
    • epi pen
  • fingernail clippers
  • pocket knife
  • shell
  • charger for my phone that is compatible with europe
  • fitbit charger
  • about 12 safety pins
  • one extra gallon ziplock bag
  • hiking poles
And my fanny pack:

  • English-Spanish order of the mass
  • one glue stick
  • earbuds for my phone
  • pencil sharpener
  • colored pencils
  • epi-pen
  • six sharpie pens and a mechanical pencil
  • (journal that I talked about earlier)
  • Passport and pilgrim's credentials
  • 1.40 in euros from my last trip to Spain
  • chapstick
  • prescriptions of meds
  • Passport
  • credit card and debit card.
  • Sunglasses
  • pnone (not shown--it will be my camera/tablet/laptop/ipod on my trip)
I will have on my person:

  • my trail runners with orthopedic inserts inside
  • one set of clothing (see above)
  • my fitbit
It looks like a whole lot, but it feels like not a lot of stuff at all.  My guess is that my skin out weight is about 20 lbs, but I haven't put everything on to check. 

I will be flying out of Houston on June second, which doesn't give me a whole lot of time to be ready for this.  Hopefully, I can get it all done in the time that I have--June second will come whether I'm ready or not, though.