Camino de Santiago

Turn To The Suffering Ones


“When people turn toward the suffering ones in their midst, the entire community is transformed.”  Xavier Le Picho

There is no question, when you walk 500 miles there is some suffering that goes with walking that far. Terri was a real hero, as she was definitely suffering, with the stress fractures she developed during the walk. She was in pain for a good portion of the walk. She suffered and endured the pain and she was not alone. We saw so many pilgrims with injuries that just kept going and some sustained injuries, so bad, they were not able to continue and had to end their walk early.

It is amazing how close one draws to the other pilgrim walkers during this walk. I wonder, if it is the suffering that is shared that draws you closer. I guess that is why I liked the quote above, because it got me thinking about the suffering of those in our midst today.

I had a very intense experience this past summer of helping a friend that is very broken physically, emotionally and mentally and is also homeless. He suffers greatly. I did my very best to walk with him in his suffering. I tried my best not to put my expectations on him but simply “to turn to him in his suffering” and help him in the smallest ways I could. I can tell you I have been transformed in a very good way by this experience. I have a much deeper compassion and understanding for the poor and especially the homeless. My relationship with my friend has been changed and I can say we are now truly “brothers”.

We all have opportunities to turn to those around us who are suffering and to walk with them. It is not an easy walk but I can tell you it will transform you into a better place.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Rocky Mountain High

Rocky Mountain National Park is truly a treasure of a National Park. I captured this image during the drive from Estes Park to the 12,000 ft high point. I fell in love with the boulders and rocks of Rocky Mountain Park. I loved this formation in the foreground.

Little Acts of Kindness and Thoughtfulness

bunkbeds alburgue

When one walks the Camino, the traditional “Camino Way”, is to stay the night in the Albergues, that are located all across the way. An Alburgue is a hostel, which means you share in all the common spaces (kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms). A typical Alburgue has several rooms with multiple bunk beds in each room. Needless to say, you are in close quarters with all your fellow pilgrims. I remember our first night of the Camino we were in a very large hall, that had maybe 40 bunk beds in it!

When you are living this close to your fellow pilgrims, it is important regardless of how tired you are, to practice “little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness” with your fellow pilgrims. You see that is the grease needed to keep the gears from not grinding.

You build a community of fellow pilgrims, when you walk the Camino. You share the joys and the pains of the walk together and you experience a close fellowship with those you meet along the way. This, I found, helped me when I was tired and worn down, to be “the best version of myself” in those close quarters.

As is often the case, the lessons of the Camino apply to our everyday lives too. Take for example our families. You see, building and growing our family relationships, is hard work. All our families experience times when we are worn down, tired, stressed and we can not even sometimes be in the same room with each other. Yet just like the fellow Camino pilgrims, we have walked a long way together and we have shared the joys and sorrows and pain. What we must remember, though, we need to keep those gears from grinding with our little acts of thoughtfulness, encouragement, and praise, sown and watered with kindness. We also must repent (quickly) for thoughtless words, and forgive more quickly.

The fruit will become obvious in the ways your relationships open up and in the joy that begins to permeate the atmosphere of your home.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Aspen Walk

During a recent summer trip to Colorado, I had the chance to hike in through some Aspen tree groves. They are the largest living organisms in the world, as the trees are all interconnected together, just like us. We are also all connected together and it is important to remember to take care of each other.

Small Steps – Building Relationships

John and Terri on Camino-Edit

When I first heard about the Camino De Santiago, I was amazed that people could walk a total of 500 miles. I have to admit I was intimidated by the total length of this walk and yet in the end, Terri and I completed it by the “small step” approach. This approach is called the “Kaizen small step approach”, and it works by disarming the brain’s fear response for large change or big overwhelming problems. Terri and I just focused on the small steps along the way rather than thinking about the magnitude of what we were facing, 500 miles of walking.

Terri and I recently faced another challenging and difficult task this past summer. A friend of ours who is homeless, and had recently lost his son to suicide, came to live with us for a few weeks as we tried to help him during this most tragic time in his life.

Neither Terri or I, fully realized what we were undertaking. It put a lot of stress on us but to make a long story short, we were successful in helping him through this tough time and helping him to find some temporary housing. There is still a long road ahead for him but we did it through the small step approach. We decided to not try and help him solve all his many problems and issues all at once but to simply take “small steps”. If we saw one small step we could help him with that is what we did for him. Maybe one day it was helping him get some new glasses, the next day it be simply sharing with him some clothing he needed. Through it all, we built up a stronger relationship as well. He has been so grateful for everything all the help we provided. As Mother Teresa said,

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

We are built for relationships, we foster and grow relationships by serving and helping each other and we can do it by taking one loving step at a time!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Orcas Island Byway

This image was created earlier this summer, during a trip to Orcas Island, to attend a wedding. We were cruising around the island and I noticed this cool small country road with trees overhanging. I turned the car around and captured the original image, with the idea in mind, I wanted to see what I might draw out of it in the post processing. I think it came out quite well, too!



Nature can heal

180718-Glacier Basin - Nikon-30-Edit-Edit“Nature can heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir

When one walks the Camino de Santiago, it takes roughly 5 weeks to walk the 500 miles across Spain. You walk through mountains (the first day is a steep and long climb over the Pyrenees mountains), forests, pastures, vineyards, agricultural lands and deserts. It is a deep and long immersion into the nature.

As I have mentioned before, people walk the Camino for a variety of reasons. I suspect that those that walk it, find they have been healed, and cheered and given strength in their body and soul, as John Muir so perfected stated.

Last week I went hiking with a new hiking group that went to Glacier Basin on the Sunrise side of Mt Rainier. It was an absolutely perfect summer day for a hike! Mt Rainier was absolutely breathtaking. It was just the medicine I needed at this time. You see, Terri and I have had some stress on our life the last month as we have been caring for a friend who is homeless. He stayed at our house for a few weeks and now is on the streets again. It has put a lot of stress on both of us and stretched our hearts and resources to help him the best we can. That is  why last weeks Mt Rainier hike was so helpful to me. It was the perfect medicine.

We are now at the height of summer, when many of us have vacation time to spend with family and some time together in nature. My hope is you also find some healing and cheer and strengthening of your body and soul.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Source of White River – Emmons Glacier

The White River on the east side of Mt Rainier comes from the Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the contiguous United States. This image captures the raw power and size of this great glacier.

Hiking Like A Two Year Old

20141008-Traicast-Sarria-172-EditWhen Terri and I were in the planning stage for walking the Camino de Santiago, we did an assessment on about how far we felt we could walk each day. We planned to go about 12 to 14 mile/day. We had a few days in there for some rest but we pretty much needed to stay on this pace of walking in order to get to the city of Santiago de Compostela and our airplane ride home on time. To maintain this pace of walking, we had to be headed out walking when the sun was coming up, then we tried to be settled in where we were going to spend the night by mid afternoon. The focus each day was really about getting your miles in and then getting refreshed in the afternoon/evening so we could begin again the next day.

I had a different kind of hiking experience recently. I call it “hiking like a two year old”. I was in Colorado for a conference and came in a day early so I could hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. I took off on this hike very early in the morning (similar to the Camino) but instead of focusing on getting the miles in, I channeled my “inner two year old”. Like a two year old, I hiked very slowly and my attention was totally immersed in the “inner beauty” of Rocky Mountain National Park. I ended up taking almost 8 hours to hike about 5 miles with many wonderful “off trail side trips” to a beautiful river that ran near the main trail. It was one of my favorite all time hikes.

Some of you might be familiar with the Bible story of the sisters, Martha and Mary, good friends of Jesus. When Mary is found sitting at Jesus’ feet and Martha is busy working making preparations for his stay at their house, Martha complains to Jesus that her sister has left her to do all the work and she wants Jesus to tell her to help.

I saw a parallel to how one hikes a trail. If one is walking slowly taking in the “inner beauty” of nature then we are most like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet listening intently to him. This is the type of hiking I find I love to do these days. I have spent a lot of years being a “Martha type hiker”, where it is all about getting in the miles and these day I am finding that my joy now is being the “Mary type hiker”! Hiking like a two year old!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Rocky Mountain National Park Inner Beauty

This image is two photographs merged together into one. I loved the wildflowers of the park and the wonderful boulder and rocks with their awesome textures and colors. For me, this is the inner beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sharing A Meal Together


There is something very special about sitting down with family and friends and enjoying a meal together. It connects us together in way like no other.

One of the wonderful aspects of walking the Camino is the bonding experience it creates among your fellow pilgrims. Just walking the Camino with so many other pilgrims one has many common experiences that we loved to share with each other. Whether it was talking about our the aches and pains or sharing a tip to help each other avoid the mistake we had made. Sitting down after a long day of walking and sharing a meal was a very important part of the Camino experience. It was bonding experience for us. Terri and I still cherish those special meal times together.

Eating a meal is so much more than simply the fueling of our body. With our lives so busy these days and with so many of us going our separate ways, it is not easy to find the time to sit and enjoy a meal together with our family and friends. The more we isolate ourselves and eat on the go and do not make it a priority to have a meal together the more isolated and disconnected we become.

Taking the time and effort to sit and eat a meal together with family and/or friends can not be substituted by anything else. I wonder if social media connections are being substituted too often for real face to face contact. I had a thought the other day, that social media is like fast food, it is ok when it is limited to a few times but is not a substitute for a real healthy meal of face to face conversations.

Let’s not forget the value of sitting down for a meal with family and/or friends. We build family and community one shared meal at a time.



Photograph of the Week

Pacific Starflower

This time of year is a wonderful time to explore the forests as they are filled with Spring flowers that grow in on the forest floor. This little star shaped flower is called the “Pacific Starflower”. I took this during a hike last week on the Suiattle River Trail.

Clearing Out Space In Our Minds

20140914-Cizor M - Alto-5-17-final-Edit

“The thing about possessions is that they rent space in our minds. Everything we have requires mind space, and I probably don’t need to point out that mind space is limited, so the more you crowd it, the more confusing things become.” Matthew Kelly

One of the reasons some folks walk the Camino de Santiago is to sort out their life. They might be at a critical point and are not sure what direction they will be going, they may have suffered a loss of a spouse or loved one, the break up of a marriage or a loss of a job. They need clarity amid their confusion.

When one walks the Camino, you carry just the pair minimum with you, the amount of possessions one has is limited to what is on your back. That is why the quote at the top of this blog is so important. The possessions we have take up space in our mind. The more we have the more they fill up our mind. Walking the Camino forces one to carry limited possessions and so as a result it helps us clear up our minds.

I am such a nut about technology and yet it comes with a price. The more technology stuff I own the more it crowded and confused my mind becomes. I certainly have felt the effect of this over the years. I see now more clearly the cost of owning a lot of stuff.

Simplifying through the reduction of stuff is a good way for one to gain more clarity. Less is more.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Springtime in Eastern Washington

Spring in Eastern Washington is special as everything is green and the flowers are out everywhere. It is a great escape,as well, from the sometimes rainy side of the mountains in Spring.

This image I feel really expresses it well.

The Practice of Constraints


One of the gifts of walking the Camino, that I did not realize till I reflected on it later, was the gift of solitude and silence that it gave us. This gift was provided by the very nature of the walk. There is just a lot of time where you are isolated and walking with just your thoughts. There is a natural constraint in place that gives you the chance to be in silence and solitude. It gives one space and time to think. It is a gift for sure.

We recently spent a week on the Washington coast in a town called Moclips. It is a isolated town that has almost no cell service or commercial businesses. It had natural constraints that allowed us to be in solitude and silence. Our goal for this Spring getaway was to not go and do but to sit and rest and soak up the silence and solitude of the ocean. Our mission was accomplished. It was a gift we received by the natural constraints that were in place and our desire to not do but to be.

I realized from this ocean solitude and silence experience that if I want to experience this more often in my life, then I must practice the art of applying constraints, for you see we I seem to be incapable once I return to my life back home of having these extended times of solitude and silence. I find that once I return home, every moment of my life I fill with music, social media, reading and podcasts, my photography projects, and all those duties and responsibilities that make up my life. These are individually not bad, per se, but collectively they make it so hard to achieve these moments of silence and solitude, that are so important to my health and growth and creativity.

So, what I have learned from the Camino and from our time at Moclips, is that one it is going to take discipline (see my last blog), to apply constraints to my life if I want to experience these special times of solitude and silence. For it is in the “classroom of silence” that we are able to see with clarity and contrast those areas of of life that are most important and where we find our creativity as well.

So, I am looking forward to working on the “practice of constraints” in my life. What can I stop holding on to and drop that will free me? Can I stop all those silly notifications I get constantly from my phone that distract me? Can I get off that computer and go for more walks instead. It is all about creating the space as it does not come to me naturally, it seems.

I hope this message resonates with you as well if you are also finding yourself needing some silence and solitude in your life.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week


We had lots of great storms during our week on the Washington coast but also some special moments between storms to explore and enjoy the peaceful and solitude of the ocean.

Discipline and Self Control


“You can not be happy without discipline. In fact, if you want to measure the level of happiness in your life, measure your level of discipline.” Matthew Kelly

Walking the Camino de Santiago is an experience of discipline. To walk the 500 miles, you really need discipline. You must be committed to a rigorous daily physical regime that goes on for about 5 weeks. It is a commitment to a full day of walking then resting, eating and sleeping, all to begin again the next day and the next day until you reach your final destination, the Cathedral in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

I am including a quote from the book , “Perfectly Yourself” by Matthew Kelly, which I have been reading during the year’s season of Lent. I have found the book to be filled with some great wisdom. This particular “wisdom”, I see is, oh so true. When I am applying discipline and self control in my life, it leads to good things in my life. I am a better person because of it.

Another mistake I have made is when I took on the attitude or the mistaken notion that freedom is the right or ability to do whatever I want. Again, when I live like this it has led me to some places in my life that when I reflect back on later, I have regretted. I am not happier like I thought I would be.

It has been my experience, that discipline and self control are important to a healthy and happy life. Maybe you also have experienced this in your lives, as well?

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Sea and Sky

This was taken about a month ago during a weekend getaway to Moclips, WA. A very dramatic sky that evening!

Simplify – Be Free To Dream

20140910-Pyrenees-74-final-1One of the issues we faced as we prepared to walk the Camino was to get the weight of our packs to the 20 lb range. We pared down as much as we thought we could but still it turned out, like so many that start the Camino, we were carrying too much weight. After about a week of walking, we realized how burdened we were with our heavy packs. We decided to simplify and reduce the weight of our packs by sending the stuff we stripped out of our pack forward to our destination city (Santiago De Compostela).

Oh, how nice it was too drop that extra weight! It made a difference as we resumed our walking. We found that our lightened load allowed the freedom to be more present and aware as we walked. We had more energy as well. It was a welcome relief.

I find myself looking back at this time and I realize that I am in constant need of shedding stuff to find more energy and freedom. Our lives are complex and filled up with so much stuff that burden us down. We are constant need of simplification.

I was thinking about our dear granddaughter Katherine with her amazing imagination and ability to weave a story and to dream. I wonder if some of this comes from how her life is so much simpler, there is less clutter and complexity.

I think there might be something to all this. The more we simplify and reduce the complexity of our lives, the more we can be free to dream, the more energy we will have and the more freedom we will feel. The more we can be present to those around us as well.

It seems to me that this is the way to go but alas it does take self discipline and self control in our lives to say no more often to those things that sound so good. I want to do it all. Yet too much is too much. Simplification is better.

Hope you all find a way to reduce and simplify the clutter and complexity of your life. I know I have a ways to go!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Skellig Michael – Stairway to Heaven

With St Patrick’s day upon us I thought I would revisit a photograph from our trip to Ireland in 2016. This image was taken on Skellig Michael island where monks inhabited this remote island off the coast of Ireland in the year 500. Talk about simplification!