Love is in the air

The Camino Provides

Calling all Camino couples! You know who you are. Perhaps you met on the Camino and fell in love. Maybe you were newlyweds who walked the Camino for a honeymoon. Or an established couple who wanted to mix things up and test your relationship. Perhaps you walked alone and came to the conclusion that someone back home is your true love. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so they say.

I wonder how many marriage proposals happened as a result of the Camino. It seems the Camino works in mysterious ways.  Is it something in the water or the Spanish wine?  I think there’s something in the air.

Love is in the air

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I Feel Love

This is how I feel on most days, but especially today, on Valentine’s Day. I Feel Love is also the title of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists, Donna Summer. When I was a child in the 1970s, my sister and I used to listen to her music frequently. I remember listening to her albums on vinyl while singing along with the lyrics on the liner notes. It would not take me long to use a hair brush as a makeshift microphone and dance around the living room entertaining anyone who was there. Naturally, my brother disappeared, for he was into heavy metal. 😉

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The Here and Now, by James Portelli

Following on “Life Is a Journey,” “Love Your Neighbor,” and “Loving Myself,” this last piece will revolve around my third resolution, that is, “The Here and Now.”

It is often said that if you want to make the Almighty laugh, you should share with him your plans.

Topoftheworld       VoidofDeath

Monuments in the Dom Platzl [Cathedral Square] in Salzburg pictured from left: top of the world and the void of death

There are many sayings, clichés, and words of wisdom about leaving the past behind, not dwelling too much on the future, and concentrating on the present. If that’s the right approach, the words attributed to Marcus Aurelius (120–180 A.D.), “Do every act of your life as if it were your last” (The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of the Meditations, [New York: Scribner, 2002]), make a lot of sense. We don’t always see it, but it does hit home when, for example, our friends cross off items on their bucket list as they brace themselves for the great beyond.

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My Rekindled Faith

When my mom and I were on our tour in Fátima, Portugal, I had to ask her about something that had bothered me since childhood. When she and my father got a divorce, our neighborhood church turned her away. I couldn’t understand this because my Mormon friends down the street had the support of the entire local Mormon congregation when their parents got a divorce. They brought over casseroles, babysat, and donated clothes and school supplies. By contrast, my mom, who had attended Catholic school and went to church every day, had nobody to help her. That’s the reason why I had resented the Catholic Church for most of my life. Continue reading

Camino Honeymoon Couple

For Friday Faves, here’s a new video of an adorable couple who just completed the Camino.  Lucy writes, “As our six week honeymoon comes to an end, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Camino for providing us a wonderful way to begin our lives together. This is a short video of our last week on the Camino. We hope you enjoy. Thank you for following our journey.”

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Mindful Pride in SF

Over the weekend, San Francisco hosted its annual Pride Celebration and Parade. Below you will find some highlights of how SF celebrates Pride and a video about one man’s journey from addiction to mindful meditation. But before you delve into those, here’s a time-lapse video of the Civic Center illuminated with rainbow lights.

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Love is in La Concha

I was happy to see an article that I wrote was published in the quarterly newsletter for American Pilgrims on the Camino. Page 17 of the March 2016 La Concha  features Camino love stories and photos of three of the couples who wrote guest posts.


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Camino and Hiking Events in March

Lake Merritt Camino Walk

Saturday, March 5, 2016
10:30 AM – noon

This is an informal gathering that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. The group meets at the Lake Merritt Pergola on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and starts walking at 10:45 AM in a clockwise direction around the lake.
More details

NorCal Pilgrim Blessing Ceremony and Potluck

March 12, 10:30 am – 3:30 pm
Newman Hall, Berkeley

For those of you attending the Pilgrim’s Blessing and Potluck on March 12th, the  program schedule was emailed to NorCal list subscribers and shared on the Facebook event page.

Blessing of the Pilgrims Ceremony

We will take a Camino Class of 2016 group photo and a photo of all attendees.

RSVP required by Friday, March 11th so we know how many chairs to set up.
Email and let us know if you will walk the Camino in 2016 and need a scallop shell for the blessing.

See more details on the Facebook event page. Continue reading

Love and Life on the Camino

Love and Life on the Camino

By Susan Alcorn

For my husband Ralph and me, the Camino has been an integral part of our life for many years. Reflecting back to our first walk along the Camino Frances in 2001, it was a natural progression, but it was a daunting proposition nevertheless.

Ralph and I met in 1987 on a Sierra Club car-camping trip to Baja California. We had two weeks living in primitive circumstances in which to get acquainted. There were mishaps: people getting lost. There was reality: campsites that varied from dirt lots surrounded by cyclone fences to sandy stretches along beautiful azure waters. There was me with wind-blown hair and no makeup beyond lipstick (oops, not much has changed, there!). There was romance: together washing the group’s dishes each night (clean dishes and warm hands) and walks on the beaches, getting fresh shrimp right off the fishing boats, and dancing under the palm trees to the sound of a Mexican band playing nearby for a wedding party.

I’ll skip the details of our many years of backpacking in the Sierra except to emphasize that we had considerable hiking and backpacking experience before our first Camino trip. We knew that we could be happy with minimal comforts, and with spending 24 hours a day in each other’s company.

But we had never attempted a 500-mile hike across an entire country!

Other than it was an ancient pilgrimage trail, I knew very little about the Camino before we started. I knew that we started in the Pyrenees, that we would come down through the Basque country, then would cross the meseta, and end up in Santiago de Compostela.

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Love is the Camino de Santiago By Gabriel Schirm

Love is the Camino de Santiago

By Gabriel Schirm

In the popular 2003 film, Love Actually, Hugh Grant opens the movie with these wise words, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

I met my wife, Amy, in a coffee shop 10 years ago. It was a moment that turned me from a love skeptic, into a believer. Instantly I went from thinking romantic comedies were a cruel Hollywood form of torture, to finding I had something in common with those sappy love stories. Up until that point, love at first sight was a lie, a ridiculous dream, that is, until it happened to me. I had been struck by lightning, and it felt so good. After we were married on a beautiful June summer day in the mountains of Colorado, we moved to Spain, and spent 2 wonderful years falling madly in love with a country. When it came time to go home, we decided to walk the Camino de Santiago together, as one final farewell to our temporary home. Continue reading