Say hello to a Haiku, written for me:
Traversing the north of Spain
Off to find my truth
-Mary Kay Loner – March 6, 2013
My friend Mary Kay sent this to me soon after our last Couple’s Book Group meeting at my house. Mary Kay and her husband traveled the Camino de Santiago on bicycles last fall, through Experience Plus, a bicycle and walking touring company, owned by friends of mine, based right here in my Colorado town, with an Italian office as well. We talked about their recent trip, and my upcoming one on the Camino, and I am grateful that I was on her mind when her poet’s heart created this lovely poem.
The Haiku appeared fortuitously, since I’ve been going through some questions, Self-Assessment questions, in John Brierley’s book, A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Frances.
The first question is “How do you differentiate pilgrimage from a long-distance walk?” Well, I’ve done a few fairly long-distance walks, some planned, some not. Walking the Bolder Boulder puts one in the 10K category, which by comparison to the Camino, is a spit up the road, nothing more.
Walking around Uluru, another 10K circuit, is so easy and peaceful, with this magnificent view, or parts of it, at your side, that one doesn’t even think about distances. But again, compared with the 1000K I will walk in the fall, it doesn’t qualify as “long-distance”.
Unplanned long walks, like the ones we do in New York City, just start when we walk out the door of our hotel, perhaps in Chelsea, and begin to stroll for awhile, finding ourselves on the Upper West Side for breakfast, across town at Rizolli’s books, and back to the hotel. It might take much of a day, and we stop at a coffee shop, a museum, the American Craftsman store on 7th or 8th Avenue, but we do quite a distance on those strolling adventures.
A pilgrimage . . . well, I’m not religious at all. Perhaps a bit of a spiritual atheist, but more the atheist these days than the spiritual part. Still, I have a compelling desire to go inward, not for something specific, but rather for the experience of NOT having an agenda for once in my life. Am I looking for my truth? Well, honestly, no. Might I find it? Perhaps . . . but I’m looking for the opportunity to hear and feel myself muse without the interruption of the phone, an event I have to plan or attend, or the computer’s “Ding” calling me to check the latest e-mail.
Solitude, beauty, physical challenge, and possibility . . . an organic journey for myself. I can feel myself taking in mini-doses of this as I walk the Kathy Fromme Trail near my house, or circumnavigate the sacred red rock at Uluru, and sometimes even in the midst of what some people call the chaos of New York City. But 35-45 days, without planned traveling companions, in a country where I can barely say hello (I’m working on that Spanish language!), pushing myself physically, more than I had ever dreamed . . . that sounds like a good enough definition of “pilgrimage” for me, until I actually experience it.
More musings on the Self Assessment questions next time. For now, I think I’ll just let this soak.