Our first Camino de Santiago pilgrimage had been in 2010. Marie and I hiked some 700 km over a 29 day period from Pamplona to Santiago. I have already blogged about this journey in great detail here. In 2011, we were excited to embarked on our 2nd Camino – this one at the Galilee Retreat Centre in Arnprior, ON.
Fr. Jack Lau, OMI, Spiritual Animator, led us in a “virtual pilgrimage” at Galilee and on our own path in our local neighborhood. The idea was to walk everyday in a reflective way, reporting our progress, thoughts and observations, over a 3 month period. The goal was to bring the unity of Body, Mind and Spirit together.
Fr. Jack would send out a prayer or reflection that we were to keep in mind as we walked each day. We would monitor our distance and thoughts and report back to the group, whenever we felt like sharing. For example in the month of August I logged 146 km and reported back several times. Fr. Jack would acknowledge our messages and respond with prayers and encouragement. There was signage up at Galilee so often Marie and I would walk the lovely grounds there in silence and appreciation.
During this period, it was a bit of an upheaval time for us. We had sold our house in Ottawa, were living in a small RV and waiting for our new house to be ready in Arnprior. Dave’s mother passed away at this time. Hence the meditative walks, inner spiritual growth and stirrings and the frequent communications with Fr. Jack and the group were very helpful.
Here is a example of a typical message from Jack:
I sent out earlier a reflection from an El Camino Pilgrim which was powerful and so will leave you with only this prayer from the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn. Buen Camino, Jack,omi
To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem.
To meditate means to observe.
Your smile proves it.
It proves that you are being gentle with yourself,
that the sun of awareness is shining in you,
that you have control of your situation.
You are yourself,
and you have acquired some peace.
We had a sharing night where those who had done the Camino in person before talked about their experiences. And at this time many of us we were being formed as Oblate Associates by Jack. It was the best of times! Thank you Fr. Jack for your spiritual guidance, creativity, love and leadership during the years you were here at Galilee. It was 10 years ago last month that you were called back to the U.S. to continue your ministry there. Miss you still!