Monday, October 17, 2016


What a day!  The final day of this trek had me wandering heavily trafficked streets, cars whizzing by, for most of six hours.  Of course, had I contemplated where I was, the immense size of the grand city I was entering, there would be no surprise at hours of suberbs to be crossed before arriving at Vatican City.
Signage, which had been plentiful and correct this entire journey, disappeared for the most part. The welcomed brown and white Via Francigena signs which had guided me for weeks were nowhere in sight.  Red and white Via Francigena stickers wrapped on lampposts and traffic light posts were few and far between.  Challenge....definitely the word of the day!

I was blessed, however, with relatively dry conditions.....a Godsend, really, as the weather forecast had been for a very wet and grey Monday.  And, to top it off, the sun shone bright and beautiful as I exited the remarkable city park of Monte Mario, down into the streets of Rome itself.

St. Peter's Square, jam packed with tourists, was empty of other least none having just arrived packs and poles in tow.  I was intently aware of eyes watching this tall, tired woman standing in awe of the glory surrounding her.  With more and more pelligrini on the trail, the sight of heavily laden backpacks and walking sticks are becoming more the norm.....yet, for this brief time, I was the anomaly.

Upon checking in with the Swiss Guard, I was directed to the office in the square which would issue my final stamp and the Latin Testimonium document certifying I had completed my journey.  Watching the young woman carefully write my name, I found myself wanting to swing around and shout to the tourists behind me, "Look! I made it....."
All they really wanted was my time with the agent to end so they could buy their tour tickets.The  line was growing.....and impatient.
I decided Silence was best.
So I quietly watched her complete her task  as a rush of emotion touched my heart.  A year later and a third major walk complete.

What will come next?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Sunday, two days until I fly back to the States.  Hard to imagine two months has passed -  blink and it is gone.
And here I sit, one last time, in Rovinj, Croatia wrapping up my European visit.
Rovinj, where I started this amazing spiritual sojourn. Surrounded by the incredible beauty and calm of this medieval Adriatic town, wrapped in the energies which started this 5 year Camino I have been experiencing, I am home.

Summer 2011, the knowledge I would walk my first Camino became a force directing me toward the walk of a lifetime, the Camino Frances. That it would not occur until the fall of 2014 was simply the Universe in action.  It occurred when it was meant to occur - as is the case when we let the Universe work.
As many of you are aware, this powerful soul knowledge I was to walk was unquestionable. That the first Camino would lead to a hike in Patagonia, a Camino along the Via Francigena and this last walk,the Camino Portuguese, certainly was nowhere on my agenda when those first synchronicities, those first whisperings of the Universe, began in 2011.

Yet, here I am in my final two days back where it began; back in my European home of Rovinj.
A perfect place to reflect.

The question most asked over these last few days, since the completion of my walk, is simply
“ How did it feel walking into Santiago a second time? I imagine it must have been a very different experience.”

Yes, the completion of my Camino Portuguese, my 360 kilometers (give or take a few) was indeed different.  Entry to Praca Cervantes in Santiago de Compostela in 2014 brought forth powerful emotions. Tears of joy, physical exhaustion, immense elation, were uncontrollable.  It is a moment in time forever locked in my heart, and soul.

This year, my entry to Praca Cervantes, the plaza with its signature fountain which greets pilgrims walking in from five separate Caminos to Santiago, was calm.  Peace settled on my heart as I gazed around, expecting a wellspring of emotion once again.

No, the tears were nowhere to be found. The overwhelming emotion of two years ago was replaced with quiet, peaceful, soulful calm.
A simple knowledge that I was done drew my breath as I gazed down the street which would lead me toward the Cathedral - the official end of the journey.  

In the past 10 days since walking into Santiago, I have  found myself consciously giving thought as to why the ending of this particular Camino seems so... I don’t even know the correct word to use... neutral, perhaps.  Not negative- not positive, joyful or saddened - simply, neutral.  Peaceful, calm, quiet, settled…. Neutral.  Balanced.  Balanced might be a better word.  No sense of ecstatic joy- no sense of bittersweet sadness -at the completion, but rather, balance.

Time alone on this walk has been plentiful.  The greatest lesson: recognizing that I am truly content to be on my own - my company with myself is perfect. When those ‘alone’ moments in time arise, I can now welcome them.  
Sitting solo at a sidewalk cafe, my glass of wine or morning cafe con leche in hand,watching the people come and, this seems perfectly natural…. No sense of awkward… odd.
This Camino has been my lesson in finding happiness and peace within myself - wholly, fully, completely.  I am enough.

In the coming home to Rovinj, the final ribbon on the gift of this journey, I am complete.
The same salted air; breezes blowing gentle as I climb the hill to stand in the shadow of Saint Euphemia’s tower; energies of over a thousand years of history swirling - energies which gave rise to this five year journey I have traveled - wrap me snug.  They whisper that I have done well -- I have listened.  I have  learned.  My circle, for now, is complete.   

They whisper “ Go home now”

I can leave.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Holy Door of St. James in Santiago

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew this year had been granted significance as a Holy Year by Pope Francis- the Year of Mercy.  And with that declaration came the opening of the Holy Door at the Cathedral of Santiago --- out of sync from it's regular years ( those in which the Feast of Saint James, July 25th, happens to fall on a Sunday).

I attach a link to a brief article expaining the process by which the door is ceremoniously opened and the importance to Catholics of walking through that speciifc door.

And, I am grateful for the experience of entering the Cathedral and the Tomb of Saint James through this centuries old passage ... sacred in Catholicism.

For Catholics it is an especially sacred blessing to see this sight. For pilgrims having walked hundreds of kilometers, for whatever their reasons, it still holds deeply emotional connection...a final
blessing at the end of an extraordinary walk.

Also, some photos from my time outside the Holy Door today, watching as fellow pilgrims and visitors queue to hug the shoulders of the incredibly ornate silver and gold statue of Saint James, high above the Altar; then entering the lower quarters, where the bones of St. James are said be laid.

~~ Author   Award Winning Bestseller  ' A Camino of the Soul: Learning to Listen When the Universe Whsipers'

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Peregrina....a Sunday in Finisterre

….. Sleepy peregrine boys, rustling awake with a start, as I round the corner of the stone church portico, hoping to find Mass in session. No Sunday Mass, just a couple sleepy pilgrims stretched on their mats

…..Langostiere beach, over 2 km of pristine white sand, so laden with seashells the outgoing waves create the music of wind chimes softly catching a breeze….

…..Seagulls squawk, shrill screams urging me to awaken and start a new day

…… walking sticks tap the stone of Rui Santa Catarina just below my open windows. Pilgrims marching in the early morning through a sleepy Finisterre

... A wander on the city beach collecting sea glass for my dear artist friend Jan

….Joyous reunions as pilgrims see each from afar, rushing to embrace in welcome
“ When did you arrive? Did you walk the last four days here? Ohhhh, I am so glad to see you again!”  English, Portuguese, Italian, German, Czech, French… It doesn’t matter… The message is understood

…. Cafes buzzing with the passionate voices of Spaniards as mid- day Sunday draws them together in family and community

….Sipping a cold cerveza in the noon day sun, my legs stretched out, welcoming the rest; listening, as a myriad of nationalities chat in harmony around me

…..Bells tolling the hour...a tinny Clang..Clang .Clang….these are not the bells of a wealthy town

…. Enthusiastic futbol announcers blaring from cafe doorways -- TV’s scream the plays of the day as locals and pilgrims alike yell as they pound fists in celebration of their teams

…. 7:30 AM - Feet moving quickly along the street below as cafes prepare to open- only the early morning pilgrims will greet a Sunday at this hour

…. Children trudging up the beach from a romp in the sea, pants slipped to the ankles, a jacket warming chilly shoulders

…. The aroma of garlic and onions wafts from windows above the street front businesses  - A Sunday meal in the making

.....  Hearts!  Capturing hearts and sending prayers for loved ones

Peregrina, I soak in the moments, willing my senses to always remember this Sunday in Finisterre