Well, we all survived the holiday. It is fun to gather and toast. Hopefully your group keeps politics and old worn out history under control. At it’s best it is a giant dilly dally with the emphasis on gratitude which should sound familiar to pilgrims of all flavors. And I want to thank our gracious hosts Bob and Delilah and their lovely family. Actually, they are folks that we have known for years but have only recently found the right excuse to party with.
I had my iPad with me and I snapped a few shots. Maybe not enough as I think about it now. I didn’t get a pic of the turkey whole, which was cooked so tender that it literally fell apart on its way from the roasting pan to the platter, which is a good thing.
Well, I have some of my guy friends coming for breakfast. Yea. I have to go and start cooking.
Steve and Philip came and we made egg mc muffins and had a good time and then right in the middle of that Alida is trying to FaceTime. So, we make a connection and there are all the Angels on one screen, Anamaria, Laura and Alida and they are all together in Madrid. AmaZing!! They are hard to keep up with.
Here you go Sir, con mucho amor:
I don’t like it when I see that the world is unjust. I don’t like it when people are treated unfairly. It has driven much of my life. It is why I undertook a Masters in Non-profit Studies. And why I’ve chosen to work for NGOs. It is why I frequently consider the ethical implications of my consumptions.
However, there have been times when the injustices of the world would make me angry and emotional. So much so that it would become an unhealthy state for me to be in.
Whilst on Camino I asked, how can I stop being so emotional and angry about the injustices in this world? I knew that if I wanted to live healthier and happier I needed to resolve this.
My third night in Spain I had a resounding dream. I had been telling some attractive woman I was walking the Camino. The last words I remember hearing from her were, “watch out for the unforgiving meadows”. I awoke suddenly, it was still the middle of the night. I remember thinking that it was somehow significant but couldn’t quite see why at the time.
It was over a week later that I realised, forgiveness was the answer. I had to forgive the unjust, the unfairness of the world and then I wouldn’t be so angry, so emotional.
Forgiving doesn’t mean that I condone these unjust actions. And I’m not going to stop fighting for justice and equality when necessary. It just means that I can live healthier and happier when I forgive those who have hurt others.
But more importantly I can also live healthier and happier when I forgive those who hurt me, including myself.
It’s Thanksgiving today, a truly American holiday. It occurred to me yesterday as I was Skyping with Gracie in London that maybe folks outside of the States needed a little tutorial regarding this day and its significance, so here it goes.
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” ~ Johannes A. Gaertner.
A lot of our history is lost in the mists so time so my rendition of this story rests largely on the the common generic elementary school model which is basically what we all cling to dispite all the attempts to make the record straight. This all took place in the seventeenth century on the East Coast of the US in the area of Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. So, the story goes that the European folk, who are called Pilgrims (yes,Pilgrims) came here largely on faith to set up a new life free from religious persecution. Maybe they were short on practical knowledge and survival skills. Due to the help of the Native Americans the Pilgrims made it through their first year and here they were at harvest time. Things were so abundant and joyful that they decided that a big dinner party was in order so they invited the local tribe members who helped make their survival possible.
And this thanksgiving meal at harvest time with definite types of foods that the new environs provided is the basis for what we do on the fourth Thursday of the month of November. Also, included is the gratefulness that we all owe God for the bounty of Mother Nature. Also included is the idea that we invite family and friends and new folks and strangers so that everyone has somewhere to go and everyone gets fed. We try our best to make that happen and it goes to the extreme that American service members will be served hot (or semi hot turkey) on the battlefield or in the MON ( Middle of Nowhere) or wherever on this day.
Because Gracie in London, who is a native of Australia, had never tasted some of these foods I will run through the menu. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without these although there might be a variation or substitute in an emergency.
First of all the centerpiece is turkey which is generally a farm raised bird now but the original was the wild turkey which there are still plenty of and may grace the table of a hunting family. Think about it being a giant chicken but with a chicken weighing a few pounds and a turkey weighing ten times that. It is generally brought to the table whole in all its golden brown roasted glory and carved there. White meat comes off the breast which goes to the white meat people and the dark meat coming off the legs goes to the dark meat people. Yea, Americans either are one or the other.
Cooked inside the body cavity of the turkey in the oven is the mysterious stuff called stuffing. It is little cubes of bread with onion and celery and herbs. Everyone’s different family has a old family recipe that reflects their separate traditions and that they cling to no matter what. Rebecca makes one based on corn bread which reflects her Southern upbringing. It is spooned out of the bird on the table when the bird is served. Sometimes it is baked separately in a pan to shorten the cooking time of the turkey. But in the old days it was “stuffed” into the bird.
So, next are the mashed potatoes (white potato generally), smooth and creamy served with a brown gravy made from the drippings of the roasting bird. Fancy gravy would have giblets in it which is the cooked and diced heart, liver and gizzard. This follows the “waste not want not” rule. Next to that is cranberry sauce which is a tart dark red sauce or perhaps relish made from this particular swamp berry. Then there will be a veggie, perhaps green beans or Brussells sprouts, generally something green. Can you visualize the whole plate with the different colors?
Then, another must is the dessert of pumpkin pie. A pumpkin is a squash that grows on a vine in the garden. It is big and orange. So the pie is made by cooking the meat of the pumpkin and adding other things to make an orange custard and that goes onto a pie crust. No top crust so you can see the great color of it easily. It is usually served with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
There, I think that I did the thing justice. I am a white meat guy by the way and Rebecca is a dark meat person so we balance out beautifully. So, wherever you are, Happy Thansgiving To you and yours. White meat loves, Felipe.
Before I get started on that I want to put my walking schedule in here:
This is here at the ranch. Wear your boots. Come walk and talk with me and whoever shows up.
My Rebecca belongs to a group called the Vashon Free Range Folk Choir. And last evening they were singing as part of a multi faith gratitude service. I got roped into going to the service but it was lively and just what I needed to start getting out of my doldrums with the death of Sture. So somehow Rebecca and I wound up going along with a small group afterward to one of the local restaurants for a drink.
So, beside the two of us there was a dad of one of my archery students, the local head guy with the Sufis, the abbot of the Zen Center and the abbot of the Russian Orthodox Monastary. Also included were two folks that I really wanted to touch base with who are the parents of a young man that recently took his own life. What a crew! What a dilly dally! It was extremely jovial and informative. I am so glad that I was there. It was really high and the parents said that it was the first time that they had smiled since the death of their son. It is hard to see how that all worked but it did beautifully.
So yea, the trail goes on, the surprises continue and the dilly dallys are there for the taking. Amazing. Dilly Dally love to you, Felipe.
I know that it is a little early but I just doned my really cool camo Santa hat that one of my archery students gave me. Need something to cheer me up at the moment. Sture being gone is leaving a pretty big hole in our winter evening. Well, it feels like winter.
So, we are all cleaned up after the big reunion weekend. The pilgrims have come and gone. They travel so lightly and well that they don’t really leave much of a footprint.
Watching the flames dance in the wood stove and thinking about your warm hearts scattered around the world. Join me, won’t you. I am going to propose a toast to the prince of dogs: Thank you Sture for your tremendous heart, love you, may we all be as robust as you.
I am going to be shy a post over the last few days but it has been super busy and every nook and cranny of our time seemed to be filled. We got to the Island on Saturday after being with Sister Joyce and we spent the rest of the afternoon capturing a couple of hours on the Camino here at the ranch. And the weather, although stormy and rainy in the morning gave us those hours with beautiful sunshine.
Then yesterday after church we were busy again with sometimes two cameras going at once to get everything in the remaining hours. A little crazy at times but it was a great opportunity as the weather cooperated again which around here and in this time of year is a miracle. So the afternoon progressed to the evening and people arrived to be at the potluck. And we were still filming into that and doing a last minute interview with Dr. Zucker and me and Annie and me. And it seemed like the super heavy topics were there at the end. And finally it appeared like we were talked out and we could go eat and relax.
Dinner was great as we had provided chicken and Italian sausages cooked by our dear chef friend Stephen. And Rick and Carolyn had made paella and Kelly a chocolate cake and there were salads galore. So it is dark by now and our son Wiley has the bonfire going full bore and finally everyone is having a drink and getting getting in the mood.
So this whole time Sture our beloved dog who has had end of life type issues with his health was cruising through the crowd looking for leftovers just like normal. He is next to Rebecca and myself and he just keels over and was gone in a minute, like dead in a very short minute. Yea, right there so quick and easy right with us and right in the midst of the the whole gathering. Amazing.
We carried him out on a quilt made by my grandmother and put him in the back of my truck were he loved to ride. We laughed and we cried.
The film crew has landed here on Vashon Island. They are at Kelly’s albergue for the night. They had dinner there last night and a big old dilly dally happened afterward. Rick and Carolyn and Rebecca and myself were there. What a great bunch of people. We were a few short of a cosmic quorum but we had a great time anyway.
Annie O’ Neil will be joining our merry band and we will descend on Sister Joyce’s office in Seattle for a film shoot later this morning. All good. Spent two hours with Sister Joyce and then back to Vashon to film outside along the Camino in an unexpected sunbreak.
We had a big dinner with all of us at our place and talked and laughed till we couldn’t anymore. Then off to bed and another day awaiting. Really hard to write this post when ther is so much going on but of course that is the way it was in Spain. Love, Felipe.
To: Phil Volker <[email protected]>
Subject: A Friday tale
As we were leaving Castrojeriz at about 7 a.m. on a Monday morning, facing the very steep mountain path ahead, I told my companions to go ahead because I wanted to pop into the large church we were passing in order to ask for extra strength. Alas, as so often in the smaller towns, the church was locked until noon Mass. I remarked with irony that despite my motivation for the Camino being religious, I was feeling quite spiritually ‘dry’ as we had also arrived too late for Sunday Mass the day before. Shoot, I said, I spend more time in church back home in Long Beach than I have here on the Camino!
Trudging along, up and up, sweating and breathless, everyone passing me, I finally reached the top and took the requisite selfies. Companions long gone, I started down the dusty descent alone and suddenly spotted…a monk ahead of me! Was it a mirage? I sped up and greeted him with ‘Buen Camino’ and he smiled and replied but said he was Polski and we discovered that my Polish and Russian were inadequate and he didn’t know any English, French, German or Hungarian so we couldn’t communicate.
He was pulling his backpack in a little cart behind him and indicated that his feet (in worn leather street shoes) were in very bad shape so he couldn’t wear it on his back. I wanted to help him or at least distract him, so I remembered a Polish Christmas carol that I sang every year in a concert at the Abbey Liguge in France. I sang Mizerna Cicha – he grinned ear to ear and sang along and our steps were much lighter as we realized how funny it was to be singing a Christmas song in August in Spain.
We soon reached the lovely Hospital San Nicolas and stopped to rest with dozens of others. Among them was a Polish man who spoke English and had a conversation with my monk. The man came to me and said, ‘Mary, Brother Angelo says to tell you ‘Different tongues, same heart.’’ Then Brother Angelo came up, gripped my head and blessed me in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.
And I said to God, ‘You sure work fast, Lord!’
“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne.” last words of John Maynard Keynes, English economist