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Anna took the shot of the caterpillar that you see here, and just as she was finishing, I warned her to get off the road. A car was coming. What is it that determines whether one caterpillar lives to become a butterfly and another gets squished on the road under a tire?

John Ramsey's journey from grief to grace

But one good friend has pointed out the fault in my thinking. Bad things happen, even to those who make good choices.

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And good things sometimes fall in our laps when we least deserve them. Yes, bad things happened: hail and sleet and nausea and blisters. But those were far outweighed by the good—importantly, good that we were far from deserving. Pierre, who helped Anna guide me down the watery path into Zubiri. The night receptionist at the Jesus y Maria albergue who guided us to the pilgrim med center in Pamplona.

Carrying Grace To Santiago – Maureen Lauran |

The med center nurse who searched the internet to help locate affordable lodging when Anna was too ill to convalesce in a pilgrim hostel. All of these good things came to us without our in any way having deserved or earned them. These were grace-filled days. One tradition along the Camino is for pilgrims to leave behind stones or flowers or other things on the tops of Camino waymarkers.

Some bring an item from home; some pick up a nearby stone to place it on the marker. For many, letting go of the stone symbolizes letting go of a burden or hurt that they wish no longer to carry. Opening themselves instead to the grace of the journey.

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June 16, by marlajean 2 Comments. While I was off photographing the blooms along the Camino path, I missed the blooming of the iris and peonies in my own garden. And as I predicted, weeds were delighted to party throughout my yard in my absence. Appreciating the beauty, the challenge, the work of tending to my own yard.


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Listening to and learning from others around the world remains something I value. June 14, by marlajean Leave a comment. On the first leg of our return, the route to Madrid, we celebrated with seven of our favorite fellow-pilgrims, the group that included Pauline and her year-old stepfather, who just happened to be on our train. The train was late, yet the marvelous, resourceful Lorena from Madrid, a friend of a friend, met us at the station with a sign to help us find her.

She gave us a tour of the city, a place to stay overnight, and a wonderful family dinner. The airline said no hotel rooms were available in Washington, but they could send us to Chicago, which had hotel rooms and the possibility of more flights the next day to Grand Rapids. So we took what we could get. There was great camaraderie through the hardship. We made friends as we stood in multiple Customer Service lines.

We shared bits and pieces of news. We felt just like we were back on the Camino, lined up next to our luggage in this oh-so-public setting, curled up on squeaky cots next to strangers, catching a few hours respite.

Carrying Grace to Santiago

Anna and I had only stand-by status for the first flight out to Grand Rapids, and so we sat and watched as the rest of our cohort boarded the plane. And when our names were called and we finally walked up the aisle of the plane, several people began smiling and cheering. We are all pilgrims, sharing a journey, supporting each other when we can, cheering when able.

June 13, by marlajean 4 Comments. Music surrounded our hunt for a hotel upon our Friday late afternoon arrival in Santiago. A good flute player was doing the same. A really BAD singer accompanied a sound system she had set up to play an 80s list of her favorite light rock. And of course, there was the music of the cathedral pilgrim service itself, especially the chords from the powerful organ that announced the swinging of the botafumeiro, the massive hanging incense pot.

I started with a croissant, salami, cheese, watermelon, mixed fruit salad, coffee, orange juice. Anna started with two croissants, bread with ham and cheese, fruit salad, and a huge bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal. I went back for yoghurt, more fruit, a bowl of corn flakes. Anna went back for another croissant, jam, more fruit. I went back again for more coffee. Anna went back again for another croissant. In the two days we were in Santiago, we continued to feast, on paella and tortillas espanoles, on crepes and simple ham and cheese sandwiches, on magdalenas and ice cream. June 7, by marlajean 5 Comments.

I guess the Camino always holds surprises, holds our arrogance in check. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. The Global Pilgrims Project. Skip to content.


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  6. Spain to Santiago de Compostela, hoping for great vistas, delicious wines and crusty breads with other travelers. Drawing her way through quaint villages, beautiful cathedrals, along meandering rivers, and across ancient. Before leaving home, almost as an after-thought, Maureen remembered that the ashes of her mother—Grace—needed.

    Along with those. I highly recommend it. It moved me and helped me. I was.


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