Thursday, July 11, 2019

Serendipity at the Labyrinth

Something very magical happened at the Carleton Place Community Labyrinth recently.

I was heading to Carleton Place to meet with our committee member Connie to help prepare the kindness rocks for the Summer Solstice Peace Walk that was being held on Friday, June 21st, 2019. Something told me to stop in at the labyrinth first - even though I would be a bit late.

As I got out of the car - I noticed that there was someone sitting on the contemplation ring around the labyrinth - very intent on his work. I was so happy to find out that it was the very moment in time that the stones were to be engraved in memory of our dear committee member Julia!
The first step for the stone engraving, tape the stencil to the stone.
The artisan explained that he learned his craft - from his grandfather and his father... And that his father had started out as a stone carver working on projects on Parliament Hill. He tried stone carving for a few months - but it did not resonate the way the sand blasting carving does. I asked for permission to take photos while he worked.
Julia lived in Africa for many years and loved it there. Her daughters chose three of her favourite animals as the images for the stone engraving. The word Chai means "tea" in Swahili.
"Tiari" means tea in Hindi.
"Pamoja" means "together"
Next step, out comes the portable sand blaster.
The stone carving artisan, intent on his work.
Interestingly - I also planned to walk the labyrinth - and was checking on the 200 labyrinth walks sign that is mounted on one of the picnic tables. As I went to check on it - Julia's name tag dropped onto the ground right beside my feet! It had been in the bag of supplies that I had in the car - not quite sure how it came to be right beside me???

SO I carried Julia's card with me as I walked the labyrinth today - saying this mantra:
I am strong; I am beautiful; I am blessed and I am loved.

After my walk I thanked Julia very much for being there with me!

As well - while I was walking there was a grandmother walking the contemplation ring - with her grandson in a baby carriage. Her daughter lives right across the street from the labyrinth and they come often - with her 2 year old granddaughter. They also have a big white cat - that comes to the labyrinth when we are having events. I was able to tell the Grandmother about Julia - and her husband Ted - and showed her the PAX engraved stones (in memory of Ted) - and the newly engraved African animal stones (in memory of Julia) . She really appreciated knowing the story behind the engraved stones.
Getting ready to remove the stencil.
The engraved memorial stone appears.
I love the strength and meaning of this image.
Some more information on the meaning of the words with the images - sent by Julia's daughter:We chose the words "chai tiari pamoja" because of what they signify for us. Mum and Dad often said "chai tiari" for tea time. We really thought that the phrase meant "tea time" but as we were deciding what to write on the stones, we found out both words actually mean "tea"! Chai is in Swahili and tiari in Hindi I think. Pamoja means "together" which we thought significant as well.

Trusting the Path!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

My Pilgrimage Journey

In January of 2019, I signed up once again to attempt the pilgrimage walk from Ottawa to Montreal with the organization Chemin des Outaouais. I tried the walk in 2018 and had to stop after walking for three days, due to an ankle injury. This year I inteneded to be more prepared - physically, mentally and spiritually.
I am determined to try the long walk to Ottawa to Montreal again in 2019.
I ended up doing 416 km of training walks - starting in January and increasing the frequency of my walking, especially in April and May. I often walked with my backpack (with a weight of 8 to 10 lb).  I would walk twice during the week - approx. 6 - 8 km - with a rest day in between. And then do two longer walks (10 - 14 km) back to back.  And I mostly walked on my own. Although I could have gone on training walks with Chemin des Outaouais, the Rideau Trail group and/or the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.

I also re-read two books by local authors: Walking for Peace and Walking Alone, A Pilgrim's Guide to the Inner Journey.  And was fortunate to also be able to attend a talk on mentally preparing for a pilgrimage journey given by Mony Dojeiji. This approach led to some profound and simple insights - that propelled me to have an amazing journey and to successfully complete my pilgrimage journey this year!
"Walking Alone" describes how to prepare mentally and spiritually for your pilgrimage journey.
The following song was written collaboratively with my walking companions on the second last night of our journey. Of note, I was the only Anglophone and the rest of my companions were Francophones. Much of the walk I was immersed in the language, culture and joie de vivre of Quebec. This song is a joyful celebration of many of our experiences and honours both languages!

Our Walking Song

Un autre groupe part d' Ottawa
The eleventh group of pilgrims
Christine, Chantal et Line
Marius et Julie
Font connaissance sur le parvis!
The eleventh group of pilgrims - L to R - Chantal, Line, Christine, Julie and Marius
"A gust of wind
A glass of wine
It must be close
To 5 à 7 time !" 
The perfect way to celebrate a long day of walking!
Un pas à la fois
Y’a les lièvres et les tortues
Et le porc-épic épicurien
Qui pense aux fromages et au vin !
We enjoy our wine and cheese a couple of nights along "the way"
Du bar au presbytère
Attention sur le parterre
Crotin, bouse et même crote
Y aurait-il des odeurs dans la grotte ?

Mais  l’esprit du chemin y est
On marche, on chante, on prie
Messe et vêpres à l'abri
Et ça ronfle à minuit !
We see one of my yellow Camino mosaic arrows along the path.
Simplifier, simplifier – go with the flow
Walking, eating (drinking), sleeping
"We are strong – we are beautiful
We are blessed – we are loved"
I am filled with joy as I walk each day :)
"Je ne connais aucun chagrin
Duquel la marche ne vient à bout" ¹
La solidarité du groupe s'est tissé
En taxi, en bateau et à pied

Chacun ses raisons, chacun son chemin
Chacun ses défis, chacun son refrain
On finit par se comprendre
On se fait t’chin t’chin
En se regardant dans les yeux
Walking and talking makes each day special.
And we shared love with everyone
 we met along “the way”
Christine, Reine, Diane, Jean-Guy, Claude "the chef", Monique, Soeur Pauline, Père Secours, Père Demers, Soeur Mariette, Charles (Curé),
and all the others
And the backpack carriers...
Complete strangers help us along the way.
Thuso, Rigaud, Chute-à-Blondeau, Montebello
C’est notre camino

Ottawa, Oka, Oratoire
C’est le sentier de l’espoir

Laval, L'Orignal, Montréal
Un chemin bien special

Le chemin embaumé des lilas,
The colours, the scent, the perfume!
We thank our hosts along the way - for the rest stops and conversation.
Quebec-Ontario – Y’a rien de trop beau
Jours en Français
Jours en Anglais

306 km plus loin
On célébre notre victoire enfin! 
We are thrilled to arrive at St. Joseph's Oratory - the end of our pilgrimage journey (or the beginning?)!

Christine,  Chantal, Marius,  Julie et Line

¹Soren Kierkegaard