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

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