Let’s return to “Joy”

Catherine, Dana, Gloria, Jim and Phil’s Rebecca not long ago.
(photo P Volker)


Dear Caminoheads,

So, yesterday we had this gap with mundane events, and somehow in my being the happiness and relief my neighbor-friend had when the door opened and his beloved Vera was freed, still is vibrating… Today, when I woke up, I found a text he wrote once my phone went on silent mode, that he felt what I did for him was “magnificent” and he was “so grateful” that despite the stressful hours, he felt “immensely happy”. My friend doesn’t read this blog, I don’t even think he knows I write here, and he is bilingual in French, but his English is zero! This is to say that this collection of words and feelings were his own… he has no way to know that we have been discussion about joy for the last week here…


But my neighbor-friend message made me think that maybe the experience of joy is present in our lives more often than we believe… ~~And I say this in a personal note, aware that I am not exactly someone with lots of vocabulary for emotions~~ but I was wondering: how can we be sure that what we feel at a certain moment is “Gratitude” instead of “Joy”, or the opposite?


And so, I went to my kindle book and looked for the bookmarks I put in my copy of “The book of Joy” and… here it was the answer to the question above… and the rationale behind my neighbor-friend…


Have a look at these 2 paragraphs from “The book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu:


“When you are grateful,’ Brother Steindl-Rast explained, ‘you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world.

The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.”


Repeating yesterday loves: Love your neighbor, Loves


Now, I open cars

The car doors openers.


Dear Caminoheads,

In Spanish, we have a saying that is “El hombre propone y Dios dispone”, sort of like we can have all the plans we want, but at the end of the day, God/destiny/luck/etc. decides what happens. Today’s post is one of those, I was planning to elaborate an email on the topic we are discussing, but then, my bell rang and this is the post…


So, I had opened a bottle of cider, and was facetiming with my clay-brother, having a great time, and my bell from downstairs ran a few times. I asked who was it, and nothing. I came back to the computer, and it ran again, and I hear my neighbor from the 8th floor (who is actually one of my friends) crying and saying he was desperate. I ran downstairs thinking he had been robbed, or something like that, but no, what happened is that was packing his truck because he was going to work in the country side tomorrow, Vera, his dog was with him, and he forgot something in the apartment and came inside the building when he realized he left the truck keys over the seat, as he was putting Vera’s safety belt. And yes, the truck locked. And he had no other key. And it is pouring rain outside, and the person who might come, could only came 3 hours later and this couldn’t wait.


So, an operation started. We un-done some metal hangers that I had at home (those you get when you send things to the laundry), a screw-diver, and with the instructions of another neighbor in the phone, we managed to open the car after an hour of attempts.


The whole story is way funnier, i may tell about this later, but now, I leave you with a picture!


Love your neighbor,


Many shades of joy IV

No one better than these two to write about Joy…


Dear Caminoheads,

I don’t know about you, but I am now hooked by the word “JOY”. I was thinking of people I may know who in my opinion are “joyful” and Arch. Desmond Tutu (who recently died) came to my mind, and then the Dalai Lama, because at the end of the day, they wrote a book on “Joy”. I was going to write, but actually, I think sharing this transcript of the conversation Arch Tutu had with Krista Tippet in her radio show Onbeing in 2010 is way better… (If you google, you can find the audio).


Tippett: You know, you told a story at a conference in 1990 about a man during the apartheid era, and of his village that had been demolished. People were being uprooted, and he prayed, Thank you, God, for loving us. And you wrote, “I’ve never understood that prayer.” But I think people might look at you and the life you’ve lived, and also, you know, the bad things that continue to happen in South Africa and the rest of the world, and say, This guy says this is a moral universe? And there’s this line that you’ve just echoed — you’ve written this so many times — “God is in charge.” And they might also say, How can he say that? I mean, tell me, you’ve been saying “God is in charge” for a long time; for decades. And so what do you mean when you say that, and has what that means to you, has that changed? Has that evolved?


Tutu:[laughs] Well, I mean, you must add that I’ve sometimes said to God, It would be nice for you to make it slightly more obvious that you’re in charge. [laughs]

But don’t you believe this? I mean, when you encounter somebody good — just take the Dalai Lama.


Tippett:Right, your friend, the Dalai Lama.


Tutu:Yes. Just take the Dalai Lama. Now, this is someone who’s been in exile for over 50 years. How should he really be? I mean, he’s missing his beloved Tibet. He’s missing his people. He’s been made to live a life that he wouldn’t really want to live. By rights, I mean, when you meet him you expect somebody who is bitter; who, if you mention the Chinese, will wish the worst possible to happen to them.

But you meet him, he’s actually quite mischievous. He’s fun. He’s laughing. And people flock to hear him. And, you know, he doesn’t even speak English properly, you know. [laughs]


Tippett:And they still flock to hear him.


Tutu:No, no, I mean, I must tell you, I’m not — no, no, actually, I’m not jealous. But, I mean, look at the number — I mean, he can fill Central Park.


Tippett:So this is another question I wanted to ask you. I’ve talked about how has your sense of reconciliation developed. How has your sense of Christian truth evolved through experiences you’ve had, coming out of apartheid with the Nobel Peace Prize — for example, your friendship with the Dalai Lama, this great Tibetan Buddhist leader?


Tutu:Do you really think that God would say, “Dalai Lama, you really are a great guy, man. What a shame you’re not a Christian”? [laughs] I somehow don’t think so. I think God is just thrilled, because no faith, not even the Christian faith, can ever encompass God or even be able to communicate who God is. Only God can do that.


Tippett:This is a big subject to introduce right here at the end, but does it strike you — the irony that, in many ways, the British were very complicit in this 300 years that your country is now recovering from, and you are an archbishop in the Anglican Church?


Tutu:Isn’t that an example of God’s sense of humor?


God is just thrilled, Loves,


Many shades of Joy III

Spilling the Light.
(photo N Pendergast)

Dear Caminoheads,

Today, I woke up to an email referring to a newspaper in the Vatican. I said that Pope Francis, dressed as Pope Francis, was outside St. peters, visiting a records shop where he used to go for souvenirs to bring back to Buenos Aires, before he was the Pope.  Seems that a journalist saw him and a news was written.


Pope Francis said that walking is what he misses the most since he is Pope; he said this because when he lived in Buenos Aires, he didn’t drive or use the church vehicle, he would just walk to places or take public transportation, and now, he is caught…


I guess he could still walk if he dresses with other clothes instead the Pope’s clothes… but I don’t know if he can wear other clothing… Can someone check that?!


Anyway, why am I writing about this about the Pope in a post about JOY???… well, because he already put together the words JOY, PILGRIM, and WALK in one phrase. Read this:

Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path.


It then seems to me that we could reflect about JOY in the Camino, and the afterward realization that “JOY is a PILGRIM virtue”.

I guess we have homework… yesterday Ron urged us to reflect on our own experience of JOY, after his writing in the comment’s section yesterday (another comment you should check!!!) So, as the good pupil I have always been, I will keep exploring around these 3 letters.


Be careful, people thinking, Loves,



Many shades of Joy II

Sister Joyce driving Phil’s Camino on the riding mower. We know how to have fun.


Dear Caminoheads,

Today I am inspired to write, but I have just disconnected from my work computer and I am not sure my brain still works in order to compose a decent post, and even more in English! And NO!, I am not a workaholic (although I love my job); it is the result of a very busy week, the weather has been too hot, a siesta called almost daily after lunch time under the air conditioning and a dark room, COVID is rampant worldwide and many colleagues are out of the office unexpectedly, and the workload “socialized”…

Anyway… It is Friday! What am I complaining about?!

Back to the topic of the week, I can start drafting some thoughts, all started with this blessing Ron got before going to the Camino, Phil’s reflections that I posted yesterday, Ron’s comment a couple days ago, and this 3 letters word: JOY.


The first thing that came to my mind was to think which is the word in Spanish for “JOY”… and when and in which context I would use it. Then, I thought of “HAPPINESS” and did the same. And then, I looked up these 2 words in the dictionary, and did the same with the words in Spanish “Alegría” and “Felicidad”. Let me tell you: it wasn’t helpful because somehow, the dictionary thinks that “Alegría” and “Felicidad” are the same, which I am not so sure they are… because we have the same feeling with the words in English, right? (Or at least, Ron has!!! He also thinks “Joy” is different from “Happiness”)


Then, I started to think on other words, one I use very often with a Canadian friend who is my “JOY-buddy” because we met online in an “Awakening Joy” course, is “enJOY” and that is how we write it, “enJOY”.


On Wednesday, I thought about “Sister Joyce”, Phil’s friend, spiritual director, and fellow motorized pilgrim, who also is a magazine cover star along Phil at almost 90… well, there you go, she is JOYce.

Then, I decided to google the word Joy and the first thing that appears is “Joy in Greek”. I clicked and voilá… read this:

“The Greek translation of joy is CHARA, derived from the word CHARIS, which is the Greek word for GRACE. This is important to note, for it tells us categorically that chara is produced by charis of God. This means joy is not a human-based happiness that comes and goes.”


Now, with this definition and at this time of the night, I definitely cannot write conclusions… so instead I will let this “sit” for reflection… but if someone is awake early, or cannot sleep, or is west to me in the timezone, please come and do the reflection first. It is not for being lazy, but this blog needs other voices!!!!


enJOYing loves,


Many shades of Joy

Sister JOYce and I tearing up the trail on the cover of Salt.


Dear Caminoheads,

Today is a BIG DAY for this blog, a JOYFUL DAY. I saw Catalina’s facebook that Phil’s blog Book, the book created by the curated posts that Phil wrote done by Catalina, has gone today to the printers! This is such an event, a truly JOYFUL one for all of us who love Phil, Rebecca and Catalina, and where touched by Phil’s words over the years (or months, or days, quantity doesn’t matter, quality is the goodie).


What is interesting is that when yesterday I asked you to read Ron’s words and stay tuned for today’s post, that was going to be by Phil, it was because I had in mind a post Phil wrote on 24Sep2014 that touched me super deeply and I only read when I did the reading of the book as “reviewer”. Having had that in mind yesterday, finding this news of the book today, and the fact that the post is about JOY, I cannot help but picturing Phil in the tapas table he already built “up there”, with a glass of red wine in hand, and looking at us over his glasses with a witty look… You know what I am talking about… !!!


So, time for me to leave you with what is important: Phil’s post is below. The discussion continues tomorrow.


JOYce is also the name of his friend, Loves,



    24 September 2014 – Little Gifts; written by Phil/Felipe/The Boss/The General


    Little gifts are coming at me. I am doing my best to catch them and to examine them and be thankful for each. These are realizations resulting from seeing my surroundings, physical and otherwise, from new viewpoints, new perspectives, I think.

    Remember when we were walking and we were in the middle of nowhere, and we were in that stage between pain earlier and tiredness later. That’s right, the giddy stage. We had mastered pain for the time being and we still had plenty of energy left to walk and learn about each other. We talked and we had time and we explored each other. Is that sounding too weird to say? Somehow in that process I was not only hearing your story but magically I became your story. And maybe you became my story, I don’t know for sure. I was seeing things through your eyes is maybe a more conventional way to say it but it was stronger than that. It was more than an intellectual understanding. And maybe when one does this with enough people you just get the ability to lose yourself which I think is what I am experiencing now.

    And this is part of being a Caminohead, don’t you think? And maybe part of the reason I think so much of you. SJA, Phil.

    More about Ron’s blessing (and wisdom)

    No comments on my chip, like you chewed on that didn’t you. Well, no I didn’t! (Pict and caption by Phil)


    Dear Caminoheads,

    I think this week will be all “Ron’s”. We had the blessing he was given by his pastor before setting off to the Camino, and we have his sensitivity put in words (although he says words can confuse the idea!!!)… Yet, I am soooo glad he has these words in his heart, words that he shared with us in a comment the day before yesterday, and that I find sooooo profound that I am posting them here for you all.


    Just read, enjoy and tear up… (and please have these words from Ron in mind… for tomorrow, I have The Boss (a.k.a Phil, Felipe, The General) thoughts on this topic of having joy as we walk… )


    “Yes, this circle model of our life activities is so often understandable and appropriate. I spent a few years trying to figure out what ‘joy’ meant. I thought I understood ‘happy’ but wasn’t sure about joy. I read books, talked to people that I felt might have figured it out and sought some miraculous enlightenment. I still don’t know what joy includes or excludes, but I did get a feeling for ‘outpouring’ and tears are one example of that behavior. Maybe the best part because I don’t get it confused with words. But it wasn’t until I walked the Camino that I experienced outpouring of tears. Completely unexpected, not from personal pain, or missing something that I was aware of,  just tears as I walked along. I’ll credit that line in the prayer for allowing me to have this experience, it might have shown light on what joy includes.”


    So thankful that the Camino called us, Loves


    Flaking the blessing IV

    “Till the Oasis 2021???”, “SURE!!!!!!” (PIct by Ryck)


    Dear Caminoheads,

    Last piece of the blessing… I think this is the BEST blessing ever, in fact, I am tempted to say it is a must for the pilgrims, something all of us sooner or later end falling into, either along the way, or once arrived to Santiago, or back home. I never thought that “foolishness” was the cause of it, but it is true that causes us to do things others tell us cannot be done.


    As you enter the Cathedral at Santiago

    May God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, 

    so that when you return home you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.”


    Haven’t you thought ever about what walking the Camino meant in terms of  fact, just “fact”? I have, to me it means “crossing a country by walking”. We normally see those epic videos on TV, but… have you stopped to think that we have done something similar, and in the 20th century…? Sometimes, when there is something challenging to do, something tiring, something uncertain, one of the things I think is: “Cris, you crossed a country by walking”. Some days when I am not convinced that was enough to show I am capable, I add “Cris, you crossed a country by walking with only 6 items of clothing in a bag-pack you carried with you”, and I can continue adding bits of the experience: slept every night in a different place with people I didn’t know, with no map or GPS, only following arrows, etc. etc… Yes, some people may say it cannot be done, but we know we can… the Camino taught us that.


    Brave love,




    Flaking the blessing III

    Helping hands


    Dear Caminoheads,


    Let’s explore the third intention of the blessing Ron’s got:


    As you carry your load

    May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, 

    so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy.


    In this one, I only can think on one word: Compassion. In pilgrims words “to walk on the other’s shoes”

    And with being compassionate, it comes being touched. And if you are touched, your will respond being more compassionate. A circle. Nothing else to invent. I don’t know if we can change the other pain into joy, but at least, we can help them to breathe easier. And when we breathe easier, our cortisol levels go down, and we are less stressed, and with that lowering of stress, we can be more sensitive, more compassionate… A win-win that never stops… the good side of the saying “the gift that keeps giving”…


    Comfort loves,


    Flaking the blessing II

    A beautiful Cruz de Ferro shot by pilgrim Rhonda Elford. Help me Rhonda.


    Dear Caminoheads,

    Today is the second line of the blessing that Ronaldo received before setting off to the Camino. This one, I must say, is one that touches me very closely and very deeply.


    As you walk

    May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people 

    so that you will fill your heart with the desire for justice, equality and peace.

    The reasons for that are many. I am pretty sure the fact that I am from what has been defined as a “Third World Country”, in a region as Latin America that has been known for being in disadvantage and where injustice is something that particularly those in disadvantage accept as a condition they will be fighting against always, with years and years of dictatorships and oppression, and unfortunately too, exploit by those who somehow help us…

    At the same time, as it happens too in countries where the reality of the daily life is like this, many of us grow up and mature with a need to stand for what is right, for what is true, for justice, for equality, for peace… just as the blessing Ron received. Some of us have romanticized this fight mostly in our young adult years but many remain committed through activism even if understood that the young adult dreams were too pretentious…

    If I speak for myself, when I was very young, in my early teenager years (when there was no internet), I got to read in a newspaper  about the “United Nations”, at that time, the secretary general was a Peruvian diplomat, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, and although I had no clue what that meant, it remained in my mind… almost at the same time, there was a concert in Argentina called “Human Rights Now” organized by Amnesty International, and that was the kick off for me to learn about the apartheid in South Africa, the  “reconciliation process” Argentina went through, “the troubles” in Ireland. And I started to dream about being a diplomat sitting in a chair in the UN! With the years, I got to learn about Mandela, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan,… I also listened to my biological father talk about the war in the Yugoslavia, the balkans, the conflicts in Gaza, and obviously the Malvinas/Falklands war… (And I had to make a decision for University and I went for science…)

    But the awareness of this larger, diverse, and conflicted world has remained, it is still with me, it still angers me and it is what has always moved me not to take away my eyes from injustice… Clearly the world has changed but sadly the gap around injustice is wider and wider… sometimes I think it is because we are so busy that we don’t look at the sides to see what the others are experiencing… So yes, this second line truly makes sense to me.


    Striving for justice and peace Loves,