Friday, August 2, 2019

Water

Photo courtesy of Yoann Boyer, via unsplash.com
It is always a sacred experience for me to be held by water.  I swim each day.  I love the Sea.  I love the Great Lakes - with my Father in our boat we fished for hours together in sacred silence.  

I know it is not a coincidence, if anything it is a Sacred Acts-cident to remind me so clearly that I am not alone and that everything I have done, without knowing it, has been held by the Sacred Waters of birth and re-birth, part of a long circuitous sacred path, a watery Camino of sorts.  

First Mate is the one who reminded me in Polish-English, that I have been on a different sort of Camino this time.  How right he is.  He recognizes that I am not a tourist. He connects with my Pilgrim Soul, that for me all is a journey of spirit.  

I sometimes feel that I will burst with the blessings that are mine to hold and to share.  I see how I have been used to bring possibility, joy, relief, for individuals and for suffering groups of people.  I have personally suffered great loss during this Pilgrimage.  I have sobbed heart wrenching sobs and felt the pain of such deep grief that I believed life was over for me, parts of my life did end during this time.  These endings have occurred on different levels of being and over lifetimes of existence.  

I was so overwrought, I almost missed the power of the “INITIATION” I was receiving. It took my Beloved Nephew and Journey Companion to point it out to me.  I still have much to learn about all of this.  Ask questions, if you like, your questions may help me to unpack the depth of this heart breaking experience that I continue to unravel.  How can one in such deep pain be a deliverer of rich blessing?  Ponder that one!

The Captain of the ship referred to me in writing as a “good fairy “  Interesting?  especially for one who has a close relationship with Angels, “Fairies”?  How could he know anything about me?  I learn again and again, that simply our PRESENCE speaks to those around us.  Who I am and how I show up makes all the difference and it is the only way that I know of to change the world.  

I do want to do my part to change the world, don’t you?  We have a huge task that we slide into one little step at a time.  But step in, I must! and we are never TOO OLD to begin what has already been done in us. 
 
When I embarked on this journey I told myself that I wouldn’t let anyone know who I was or what I did.  I wanted to experience what it would be like to be simply one of the group.  I wanted to avoid being set apart as so often happens to Spiritual Teachers.  Others don’t know how to be or be comfortable with such a Soul.  I tried, I really did.  What I learned was that I could not, NOT be who I am.  I failed to keep my identity invisible, because, I simply showed up! It’s like that Jesus saying about hiding your light under a bushel basket - somehow it leaks out.  It is also spoken of in some of the versions of the Raven’s story of saving the Light for the World, renewing life on Earth through the restored gift of fire/light.  We are all meant to be LIGHT!  How do you show up?

Loving you and not really sure I am ready to end this Pilgrimage.  I knew that the experience in April-May was a continuation of the Sept-November 2018 experience of the Camino Ignaciano.  I had no idea what I was in for!  I sit in Amsterdam in August 2019 waiting for a Ship to carry me home across Sacred Waters one more time. 

I believe that coming back is only a stop, a pause, along the way and somehow I will, it will, continue in and through me. I now believe that there is definitely no end to this incredible soul journey.   I have learned that I am totally separate from everything and everyone at the same time that I am totally immersed and one with everything and everyone.  
How does One hold that thought?  

I have traveled across France, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.  Never had I even the remotest thought to do such a thing.  Yet, here it is done and it is only the beginning.

I learned from David at a Hostel in Krakow, that I didn’t have to live anywhere.  He doesn’t.  He is happy and lives anywhere he wants to be.  He spends some months each year with family in the States.  He lives in Guatemala and in Europe during other times of the year.  Living in hostels is a distinctive way of life with an ever changing community of similarly minded folks.  Usually a very caring group of strangers.  This time I met people from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, many countries around Europe, Ethiopia, and more - places I have never heard of.

Perhaps this Camino has brought me to deeper and more profound awareness than ever before.  How can I end?  Only I can stop, no, I can pause, and then I will continue, I must continue.  The stops and pauses are becoming less often.  Time is running out and there is still so much to do and be.  I want my body to end while my Spirit journeys.  Don’t misunderstand, I am not on a rushed and harried journey, much the opposite.  I have learned to be at HOME wherever I am, like Turtle, who carries his home on his back.  I am not hurried, I am at home. 

When I promised the Captain that I would truly disembark in Cleveland this time, his immediate email response was that I didn’t have to make that promise, I could stay and continue with the Ship.  How is it that so many around me know my heart as well or better than I do?

I have written more verses to my Death/Life Song.  There is a Little Prince, a Fox, a Raven, and a Turtle that I am indebted to, not to mention the Dolphins and Whales, Atlantic Storms and Icebergs!  

How can I possibly abandon the magic, the sacred magic of this place I call home.  It is not about a house, it is about a home - that for my soul, is not in one small quarter acre of Medina land.  

When Grandfather Tree gave his life for me, and told me that he was doing so freely and willingly. He wanted to give me the opportunity to grow into what I was meant to be. I argued with him that he didn’t have to give his life, I could mature without him doing that.  
Now I know his wisdom was deeper than mine.  

I felt the bond with this Land sever when he died. Now I am wondering, or is it wandering.  The land at 89 Hartford no longer feels the same, I miss Grandfather so much.  I can hardly bear to walk into the back yard for the grief that I feel.  I know that I was given the beautiful Deer, especially the gift of the newborn in the Sacred Fire Pit as a sign and symbol of new life, much different than I had ever known.  When I stopped home for 3 hours in May - they were in the backyard, both Mother and Child. I felt their love, their bond together and with me, as GrandMother, I felt their encouragement to keep going.
OKAY - another coincidence?  or a Sacred Act-cident? 

When I first spoke to my Niece/Daughter in spirit, that I had missed the date I intended to be home for the childrens’ birthday, due to the week delay the ship experienced for many reasons, I explained that I no longer felt an urgency to be home.  She heard the song of my heart.  I had been timid about suggesting to her that I complete the voyage through the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay.  Thunder Bay was an important destination for me because my husband and I had visited there when we drove around the Great Lakes.  We visited an Amethyst Mine there.  We brought home pieces of the Healer’s Stone.  My Niece/Daughter encouraged me and my heart felt free.  When I got to Thunder Bay and was not yet ready to come home, I once again connected with her, each time expecting her to request me to come back.  She never did.  She willingly embraced the burden of caring for everything that I left behind.  She will never know the depth, the treasure of the gift she gave me.  

I also learned from this experience that the one who sets the limitations on my heart, is not outside of me, rather it is me.  I have vowed now to seek my heart’s desire and do my best to care for those who are impacted by my decisions with love and care.  I have learned that we each must make our life’s choices as freely as possible.  It isn’t easy and I must remind myself often that I am responsible for attaining my life’s purpose. I must do all that I can to move through the limitations and self imposed expectations I have concretized over the many years and lifetimes. 

I know that this can sound very strange to some.  I am hoping that you are the ones who can receive, if not understand or know the experience that I describe.  There is so much that I would love to share that is beyond words.  
I look forward to spending time with you whether or not, I return.  

I am certain, that you realize from this message that I am a deepened Soul from the one who ventured away in April.  This extended time has been necessary to do the deep work that the Universe needed to do in me.  Don’t ask me, what’s next?  I only know that it isn’t over till it’s over.
Only the Universe knows and I trust that all is well with my Soul.  All is very well.

I board the Ship to Cleveland this week.  

I decided not to fly when the Captain extended the invitation for me to return to the Great Lakes on the Ship.  

How could I ever say NO to being once again on the Great Waters of the Sacred Sea?  

Sacred Waters, carry me home.  
You have taught me to find HOME, 
      wherever I am and in whatever lifetime I walk.

Seeking, I continue
Carol, one Pilgrim

Friday, May 3, 2019

2019-05-03. Crossing the Atlantic: Home!

Was waiting for all of the DRAMA to settle before I wrote to you.
As always, I have had some serious ups and downs this journey. 
All to develop RADICAL TRUST. I guess I haven’t learned my lesson completely. There seems to be some repetition, even if the scenarios differ.

I wouldn’t know how far back to begin - so I will tell you about just the last couple of days.

When I arrived here in Ijmuiden, I still had no information or instruction about the Ship’s whereabouts. The people who work here at the Hotel Velsen are absolutely wonderful, just like family. --Danielle, Trudy, Mattie --- I have enjoyed every moment with them. They told me that another woman who stayed with them waited over a week for her Cargo Ship to arrive, be loaded and ready to sail. I resigned myself to the fact that I might be here in Ijmuiden longer than planned.

I received a long message from my Cruise Agent. I was so excited. I did everything that I was instructed to do. Last evening, I walked 2-3 miles to go to the Immigration office to get myself officially stamped to leave the country on the ship. When I arrived at the Police Station where I was told the Immigration Office was, a policeman came to the locked gate, he opened it and told me that the Immigration Office is no longer located at this place. He came into the street and pointed to a tall building that was probably another mile away, at least it seemed that far. He said that I needed to go there and walk around to the side of the building to find the Immigration Office.

Fine. I started out once again and made my way to the Felison Terminal. I followed his instructions and found the Immigration Office. I carried my yellow folder of important papers in my small daypack on my back. My passport in the usual place, where it is always available. I knew everything was in order. I had the ticket that Miri sent to me just that morning which was what I needed to board the ship. Danielle printed it for me at the Hotel. I had other paperwork in my folder. In addition to the needed info for the Ship, I carried other important papers in my yellow folder. The officer saw me taking out the completed forms that he needed, he asked that instead of taking the papers out, I hand him the entire folder.

I didn’t think that was necessary, but I have learned compliance is the way of wisdom when there is nothing worthy of a fight. I complied and handed him the folder, not even knowing what all was in it. They kept looking at my passport with some kind of magnifying device. I couldn’t understand a word of the Dutch they were speaking. There were three of them now. I was starting to feel nervous about this process. It was supposed to be so simple. I had all of the paperwork in order. All I needed was a stamp that approved my boarding the ship.

They asked me so many questions. How much I paid for the trip? When I purchased the ticket? How long I was in Spain. Why there was no indication that I ever left Spain in November of 2018. How did I go home the last time? Did I leave? What was I doing there? What would I be doing on the ship? Why didn’t I fly home? and on and on. I was there a long time. They don’t have anywhere to be since they are opened 24/7.

I began to wonder if this is anything like the Immigrants feel when they go through the immigration process to enter our country. I wondered what I might feel like to know that I was leaving the country of my entire life-experience. The country that I would never be able to return to once I acted on my choice to leave. I couldn’t imagine being a person without a country, without a home to go to. Here I was in a situation where all I wanted to do was come home. 
One of the officers, the one who seemed to want to give me a difficult time, came into the waiting area where I had been standing all this time. They interrupted helping me to process an entire fishing vessel crew of about 30 men, each with passport and ship papers. I made a deliberate choice to remain calm.

I felt like they wanted this old lady to lose her cool - so I didn’t. I would not give them what they wanted. Besides, I already had a nice room for the night, I really didn’t want them to put me up in a cage. I remained calm and unphased by the absurdity off the situation. The young officer came out into the waiting area with my passport, not my folder of important papers that I needed in order to board the ship.

He explained that he could not let me go through the immigration process until he knew for certain that I was leaving the country. He said that he called the number that I gave him for the ship, and they said I was not on their list of passengers. Earlier in the day, I called and spoke with the Master - who is like the operations officer, he did not tell me I wasn’t on the list. He said that he was expecting to get the paperwork and I should give him a call on Friday to find out for certain the day I could come on board and the time that we would sail.

As he dismissed me, I reminded the young officer that he had all of my paperwork and my yellow folder on his desk. I wanted my folder and papers before I left. He went to get it. Since I wasn’t sure what was in it when he asked for it. I wasn’t sure if everything came back to me. I checked for the critical items that I knew I had to have for Ship boarding.

I left and walked back to Hotel Velsen. Just as I entered and was telling them about what had just happened, they introduced me to a man who recently arrived. He was also going on a Freighter. I asked him which freighter. We discovered we are the two single passengers that they are taking. We are both scheduled for the NARIA. (Sure sounds a lot like NARNIA - I hope there is a Wardrobe in my room!)

He was on his way out the door to go to Immigration. I shared briefly that I had just been there and was refused clearance. He decided to go. He, like I, spoke with the Captain and was told to complete this part of the process. I didn’t see him again until this morning.

When I returned from dinner, I asked Danielle if he had returned and if he had better luck than I did getting through Immigration. She said he had. He was all set and was told to be on the ship Saturday and it would sail on Sunday.

I was not feeling very good about this. I was now wondering if my Cruise Agents had slipped up. The ship name was not one that I recognized as part of the PZM fleet, so I wondered if there had been some kind of mix up. Was I going to have to find another way home again? Last November I was bumped off of the PZM Freighter and had to find an alternative way home. I decided that I better jot the PZM agents an email. I knew that it was too late in the day, they would be out of the office in England. I would have to be patient to receive a reply tomorrow. I reported to them all that had happened.

This morning, I saw Wilke at breakfast. He is a really wonderful person. Told me about his family, especially his wife, Batina, who helped make this dream of his, a reality. This is his retirement “gift” that he and his family have saved his whole life for. A Dream realized!
Then we got to the serious business of my being put off by the Immigration Officers. I asked about the agents that he used. For him everything had gone so smoothly, and he has never traveled before!

He introduced me to the website and the contact names that he used. Problem is that we couldn’t figure out how to get the site in English. So far, only German. He said that there are a lot of travel agents promoting Freighter travel these days. In the States, I found it difficult to locate one! I used a group from UK. I need to find other alternatives or at least more options. We talked about walking to the TaTa Steel Plant where we need to check in with the company before boarding the vessel. We checked google earth to see that there really was no way to get there by walking. We knew there were strict rules about where people could walk on the company premises. They own so much land it is like a small city.
I suggested to Wilke that we get a Taxi and share the cost of the fare. We are making all of these plans and I don’t have clearance. I am eager to get a response from the agent about the situation. We check the time and know that they aren’t in the office yet. I must be patient.

I went to my room and decide I better make my way over to the Immigration office in the hopes that a new shift is working, and I will have a better experience with someone else. Before I go, I call the Ship and talk with the Captain. He is jovial and assures me that he has sent the list to Immigration He doesn’t understand why they denied me last evening. He suggests that I go back and tell them that he expects me on the vessel on Saturday with the goal of sailing on Sunday morning.

I am getting ready to begin the trek to the Immigration Office when my phone rings. I haven’t heard my phone ring in over a month! ID says the call is from Germany. Must be Wilke. It is. He asks what I am going to do. I tell him I am on my way out the door to return to Immigration. He says that he talked with the Captain and all should be good. I told him I talked to the Captain also. Wilke asked if it was all right with me, he had reserved a Taxi to pick us up at 11:00 in the morning to go to the ship. I was pleased that he had taken care of this detail and that he was kind enough to not only include me but also to be sure that the time would work for me. I agreed and expressed my gratitude. 
Off I went, following my GPS. I knew it was taking me along a different route from yesterday, however, yesterday I went to the police station first and was sent on to the correct building. I thought perhaps this was just a different way to go directly to the Immigration Building.

As I walked, I certainly felt that I was going much further than I needed to go. I walked 2.4 miles. I only needed to walk 1.1 miles. What I learned is that there are two buildings with the same name. Of course! It really was a lovely crisp walk, with the cool breeze off the water and the gorgeous sun streaming. I could see where I needed to be. I couldn’t figure out how to get there. A taxi driver helped me to enter information on my Google Map that would take me to the correct destination - another 2.2 miles and then after Immigration 1.1 miles back to the Hotel. Like an Immigration Camino!

Since I spoke with the Captain of the Ship this morning, I was feeling confident. I walked into Immigration and said to a new face, “I spoke with the Captain of the Naria, and he has asked me to come on board tomorrow morning to sail on Sunday morning around 10:00 a.m. Here are the papers you need and my passport. I am quite sure all is in order. In less than two minutes everything was done. I was approved to sail.

I noticed that the Officer handed me my passport without stamping it. I questioned whether or not I needed it stamped to confirm that I was here for Immigration Processing. Yes, of course! He took my passport and stamped it! Whew, now I feel ready to go. I couldn’t imagine what might happen if I showed up at the Ship in the morning without Immigration authorization.

I walked back to the hotel. Stopped at the grocery for something healthy to eat. Will pack and be ready for the taxi in the morning. Wilke and I will go for some fish tonight. We are ready to set sail.

Okay - how is this for an update!!!

Much love,
Remember after I get on the ship in the morning, there will be no communication. no postings until I get home in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

2019-04-30. Leaving and Arriving: Life’s Story!

Today is May 1, 2019. How did that happen? Where did April go? Do you ever ask yourself about the fleeting nature of time? For me, it reminds me of the sacred quality of time. That every moment is just that a precious moment and once it is gone - it is gone forever. As I live into this eighth decade of my life, it seems to go by faster and faster. Sometimes, I wonder what the rush is? As a child, I didn’t comprehend what my Grandmother meant when she commented on the fleeting nature of time. Now, I get it!

News about Today - starting with Yesterday (see how fast it goes? I have to go backwards, in order to go forwards into NOW.

Yesterday, April 30, 2019, this is what I wrote:

It is 12:48, I woke every hour on the hour expectant to hear the 5:45 a.m. bells, 6:00 a.m. bells, 7:00 bells, 7:15 bells - It doesn’t matter which one, all BELLS. That being said, there are some combinations of tones that I like the best. Usually involves a kind of rolling of tones, as if being poured out of a huge container. I also love when the largest of the bells is engaged, the one at the top that can most easily be seen. It is not sounded very often. It is so sonorous.

I longed to say goodbye to the Monks’ Sacred Garden this morning, however, I decided it is more important to keep the privacy restrictions and be invited back for a visit at another time. I don’t want to lose this privilege.

I was up with the 5:45 a.m. Bells. Finished last minute packing. Almost forgot my sandwich in the kitchen refrigerator. Went back for it. A drizzly, rainy day. I went first to check out at the Hotel. Paid for the nine days from Easter April 21 till today April 30. Left my luggage there. The woman who took care of me has become a familiar face. We always exchange large smiles of recognition. She calls me “Lady,” so very respectful and full of kindness. The sound of being called LADY, cracks me up but, of course, I would never show it. I am not accustomed to this level of formality.

Stairs to the Black Virgin
I asked to leave my luggage while I go to say goodbye to the Basilica. I keep my backpack with computer under my rain jacket and take it with me. I take some last photos- at this quiet hour the Basilica is empty - a rare sight. I stood and absorbed the 7:00 a.m. sounding of the bells - one last time this rip. When the door to the Black Madonna was opened a Chinese family was waiting. They hurried through their visit. I thought they would stop in the Cambril chapel area for a while, but they didn’t. I paid my visit to Morenenta undisturbed. There was no one behind me. I took my time to take all the photos I’ve taken before and more. Hands and toes of Mother and Child. Close ups of both faces, and then, something strange happened. My camera started flickering on and off. I didn’t think I would be successful in getting a close up of her face. I even have a couple of totally black photos of evidence of this seeming electric faulting. I thought about what I read concerning the energy from the mountain -electric magnetic fields that some say play a part in the healings near the statue. I mentioned this morning’s experience to Father Toni. He shared that there were tests done to measure the electrical fields around the Basilica and in the Square in front of the Basilica. Most of the talk about electromagnetic fields could not be scientifically measured. The only evidence that showed up was due to some underground water. I mentioned to Father Toni, that often this seems to be true at sites of great Cathedrals to the Madonna, that are built over ancient Pagan Ritual space, where there are, in fact, underground water or wells.
Black Virgin. Santa Maria de Montserrat

This experience with my camera flickering and then working perfectly well after this morning’s occurrence, reminded me of something similar that happened when I was with a group of students visiting a site in Southern Ohio of the Serpent Mound. At that time - it was before I owned an Iphone, I was using a digital camera. When I attempted to take photos at the mounds, my camera did all kinds of unexpected things that I can’t even explain or describe. I thought my camera was ruined. I didn’t understand what was wrong. When we left this place, I mentioned to some in the group what had happened. They told me to try the camera again. They explained that there is an electrical field at the mounds that can cause this to happen and the camera is actually fine! I didn’t believe them. 

I attempted to use the camera later that day and it was absolutely fine.

This leaves me with questions about what happened this morning while photographing Morenenta? What happened? Was it my own energy that caused the malfunction? Is that a possibility? I know I am having very strong feelings about leaving this sacred place. Could it be?

What is the power of our personal energy? on cameras? on one another? on ourselves?

These are questions, like so many, that may never be answered. That’s okay. There is something about the mystery that makes it all the more special, the not knowing!

As I exited, I paused momentarily in the Cambril, behind the Statue. I remembered the very first time I was in that Chapel. There had been a red rope restricting entry because there was a private Mass going on. I was visiting the Basilica for the very first time. I heard singing as I passed the small Chapel and I paused to look just for a moment and then, seeing the red rope, I continued. Just as I was walking away, a man lifted the red rope and invited me to come in. Without hesitation, I entered and attended the completion of the Mass that was being celebrated in Spanish or Catalan. I watched as the Priest spoke and kept pointing up to the back of the statue that is present in this room. I received Holy Communion. An unexpected sacred moment for me, a passerby, invited in, given an unexpected banquet of grace, released to the world, changed. I knew I would be back. I knew I must come back. The message of the Mary visitations on the Camino actualizing. Now I have visited four times and according to the message received from the Virgin as I prayed, this visit, in the Hermitage of Saint Iscles, I need not worry, I will return.

She has taught me so much in each of the visits, especially about how I am to love her Son. That is a much longer story to share.

Red Rope at the Cambril door
Yesterday, as I left the Cambril for the last time this visit, I place the Red Rope across the entry to the Chapel, just as I had first seen it years ago. I took a picture, to remember. I put it back the way I found it and walked away.

It is still raining. I went back to the hotel to claim my luggage. Being early to meet Father Toni, who offered to take me to the train that would get me to the airport on time, I waited at the hotel where it was warm and dry. At the appointed time I went to the parking area. We loaded my luggage into the car and off down the winding mountain road to the station. Thank heaven for Father Toni’s help to get me through the ticket machines and on to the correct platform and the train headed in the correct direction.

The train arrived on the opposite track of what we expected. Quickly we said goodbye and off I went toward Barcelona.

When I arrived at P. Espanya the ticket agent spoke English and explained that it would be easier for me to go back three stops toward where I had come from, because there was a direct connection into the Airport Terminal. A much easier way than to attempt a bus from here. He was very kind and let me re-enter using the same ticket to go back to Europa Firma and then switch to the Metro Line 9 directly into Terminal One where I was departing on Vueling Airlines.

I asked several people where to locate the airline desk. No one seemed to know what I was talking about. Now I am wondering if I am at the correct airport…just a little bit of panic! Finally, I was referred to an information desk. The agent knew immediately what I was asking. Then I realized what the problem was. I don’t know how to pronounced ‘V’. The more I emphasized the VVVVVV, the more confused others were. Now I remember as the agent speaks the name back to me “Bueling”, VVVV is BBBBB in Spain.

I located the desk on the third floor and stood in a very long line to check in. Although I was over an hour early, I was worried about missing my flight. Once my baggage was checked in, I was directed to Passport check in. When I got there, I was somehow misdirected. I assume all responsibility for these slip ups. It is all about LANGUAGE!

I couldn’t find my flight listed anywhere. I stopped a gentleman in a uniform that looked like he might be able to help. It is getting close to my departure time. He says that I am in the wrong place. This is the second time today, first at the train and now here at the airport. I’m in the wrong place.

Have you ever found yourself in the wrong place? 
Wondered how you got there, thought you did everything right and still are in the wrong place?
What does it mean to be in the wrong place?
Were you in the wrong place if everything works out the way it was intended to work out?
What purpose, or good outcome was the result of being in the wrong place?
Has it ever happened that the very place you planned to be is truly the wrong place?
Have you ever wondered if it is the place or is it you that is wrong?

He marks my passport and delivers me to a different area. I see my flight listed and realize I have a long walk to get to the gate before boarding begins.I have to move very quickly to get to the departure gate. Breathless and overheated, I arrive at Gate 41 - the flight is late!!! thank you. I run to the rest room. I come back. Still no plane in sight! I hurry to the water fountain and fill my water bottle. Now I am ready to board. I go back to my place in line.

Eventually we are all boarded and seated. 7F is my window seat and I am grateful that in the very full plane, the middle seat is left unoccupied. I have a little room to stretch. I am exhausted from the stress of the journey. I sleep for a little while. I awake in time to purchase a bottle of mineral water. All day, I have been eating the sandwich I purchased the day before at the Café in Montserrat. I finish it on the plane. I will get to Amsterdam and have a nice dinner tonight.

After gathering my luggage, I go to the ticket machine to attempt to figure out how to get to Ijmuiden where I am staying, close to the port where the ship is to dock. A family is there purchasing their tickets. I ask if they speak English. Could they help me purchase a ticket? The woman knows I am going to Ijmuiden, seems to know me. I must look confused. She explains that we spoke standing in the line waiting for the airplane in Barcelona. She and her husband were returning from taking their son, Jon to Barcelona to celebrate his start of High School. This was a family tradition for each child as they passed into High School.

They looked at the map that I had screen shot the day before of the journey and determined that I would be taking the same train as they were. They assisted in the purchase of the ticket. When it was time for me to exit - in three stops - Jon reminded me to get off the train. I did.

I asked around the station about how to get to Ijmuiden, the Train folks said there was no train. I was directed to follow Bus signs - outside and downstairs. I exited the building. Busses parked in a row all along the left of the large station lot. I was making my way to the building hoping to find an office to make inquiry. The very first bus I walked passed read: Ijmuiden.  I asked the driver if she was going near the address I had in my phone.

She didn’t know how close she could get me. Her bus number was a little different than the one in the directions. She said she thought it could be very close. She was leaving now. 
I decided to risk it. With all my luggage I went to the back of the bus. I didn’t like being so far from the driver in case she could indicate where I might get off. I had myself sandwiched into a seat with backpack on my lap and suitcase on the seat next to me to clear the isle.

Signs flew by. Ijmuiden. I realized that this was a large area. Many signs said Ijmuiden. Bus stop after bus stop indicate IJmuiden. I was getting a bit fidgety wondering if I should be getting off. Finally, something in me said. Get your stuff together and make your way forward. this was a major task: lifting the luggage down, wrapping the backpack on, moving from the back to the front of the bus. I did. 
The driver looked at me and said, “I checked with some of the passengers. This is your stop.” Just like that. I was directed off the bus and told the direction to walk. I did. 
Amazed.
Amazed at the timing. 
Amazed always at how I am cared for, even if there is a bit of drama. 
Amazed I always get where I am going, even when I don’t have a clue!!!

I didn’t see the street name anywhere: Kennemerlaan. The spelling of words here in Holland is so different from Spain. Another immersion experience.

A man walking his dog, coming toward me. I have a fanny pack around my waist, a backpack on my back, I am dragging a roller duffel behind me. I think he took pity. I asked if he could direct me. He read the address I pointed to on my phone screen. “Yes, just here. Follow this street. You are at 300. Must go to 118. Not far. This side of the street. I know the place. You are fine.”

At that I was on my way, quickly snuggled into a wonderful clean room. Unpacked, changed clothes, went out for a walk. Got lost. Needed to ask directions back. My phone is not providing Google Maps because I have gone from Spain to Holland. I will take care of that in the morning so that I can walk. Walk without getting lost!

Last item. I ate at the Greek Restaurant in the same building as the Hotel Velsen. Food was wonderful and plentiful. I took more than half back with me for tomorrow’s meals.

I’ll bet you asked yourself a lot of questions as I share this part of the journey. Please share them with me. I know, the day was full of questions, but the best part is always the answers that often arrive in ways that I cannot explain.

Ever experience receiving an answer you were seeking and not recognizing you received it?
or
Ever wonder as you held the answer, what your question was?

A day of answers held!

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Monday, April 29, 2019

2019-04-29. Feast of Sant Jordi at Montserrat

There is quite a good discussion going on for those who are interested in my post of Sunday April 28th, subject Women Bishops article. The discussion is NOT about Women Bishops, rather if you look further, it is about the way we as Humans KNOW or PERCEIVE Divinity.

This morning Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, once again, is right in line with the ongoing discussion. Please get to know Rohr's daily posts. He is an excellent thinker and sometimes brings out the AHA in me and sometimes the FIGHT! This morning I am going AHA, AHA! as I attempt to wrap my heart and my mind around his sharing.

"If God only loved perfect things, God would have nothing to do!" Richard Rohr

How about you? What is your response, reaction to Rohr's meditation?
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Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Heaven Now: Divinization
Monday, April 29, 2019

If we could glimpse the panoramic view of the biblical revelation and the Big Picture of which we’re a part, we’d see how God is forever evolving human consciousness, making us collectively ever more ready for God. The Hebrew prophets and many Catholic and Sufi mystics used words like espousal or marriage to describe this divine-human love affair. That’s what the prophet Isaiah (61:10; 62:5), many of the Psalms, the school of Paul (Ephesians 5:25-32), and the Book of Revelation (19:7-8; 21:2) mean by “preparing a bride to be ready for her husband.”

The human soul is being gradually readied so that actual intimacy and partnership with the Divine are the result. It’s all moving toward a final marriage between God and creation. Note that such salvation is a social and cosmic concept, not just about isolated individuals “going to heaven.” The Church was meant to bring this corporate salvation to conscious and visible possibility.

But how could divine espousal really be God’s plan? Isn’t this just poetic exaggeration? If this is the agenda, why were most of us presented with an angry deity who needed to be placated and controlled? Why would God even want to “marry” God’s creation? If you think I am stretching it here, look for all the times Jesus uses a wedding banquet as his image for eternity, and both he and John the Baptist call Jesus “the bridegroom” (Mark 2:19-20; John 3:29). Think how strange that is! Jesus is not marrying anyone, is he? The very daring, seemingly impossible idea of union with God is still something we’re so afraid of that most of us won’t allow ourselves to think of an actual intimate relationship with God. Only God in you, “the Holy Spirit planted in your heart,” can imagine such a possibility (Romans 8:11 and throughout Paul’s letters).

The Eastern Fathers of the Church were much less afraid of this realization; they called it the real process of human “divinization” (theosis). In fact, they saw it as the whole point of the Incarnation and the very meaning of salvation. The much more practical and rational church in the West seldom used the word, despite Peter’s teaching (1 Peter 1:4-5 and 2 Peter 1:4). John also was quite clear about divine union being the final goal in much of his Gospel: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:20-21). It is important not to confuse divine union with human perfection. The choice for union is always from God’s side; our response is always and forever partial and feeble.

Jesus came to give us the courage to trust and allow our inherent union with God, and he modeled it for us in this world. Union is not a place we go to later—if we are good; union is the place from which we come, the place from which we’re called to live now. We wasted centuries confusing union with personal perfection. Union is God’s choice for us in our very imperfect world. Divine Love has no trouble loving imperfect things! That is just our human problem. If God could only love perfect things, God would have nothing to do.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Women Bishops

How Appropriate to receive this information this Sunday morning April 28, 2019. Printed in News Europe:

Women bishops were active in fifth century
SEE THE ATTACHED IMAGE of the FRESCO. 
Evidence: 
The fresco of Cerula surrounded by the Gospels
Victoria Ward in London

See my comments following this important article:

A fresco unearthed in an Italian catacomb suggests that women were acting as bishops in the early Christian church, academics claim.

The fifth century image of a woman named Cerula shows her surrounded by open, flaming Gospel books, symbolic of the role of a bishop. Academics said the discovery, in San Gennaro, Naples, was "incredibly significant" and proved that women held senior roles in the early church.

It could mean that millions will have to rethink the origins of their faith.

The revelations are made in Jesus's Female Disciples: The New Evidence, due to be aired on Channel 4 next weekend. The programme also suggests Jesus had many more female disciples than previously thought.

Bible experts Helen Bond and Joan Taylor visited the catacomb in Naples, where, in the early third century, the Christians began to bury their dead and pave the walls with frescoes.

The wall paintings, hidden for 1,000 years, were rediscovered in 1971 and recently restored. Cerula was painted in the late fifth or early sixth century and is depicted in the praying position with the "chi-rho" symbol of Christ over her head. Crucially, she is surrounded by open volumes of all four gospels, suggesting she had real influence and responsibility.

Dr Ally Kateusz, a Christian art expert, told the show: "It's really extraordinary because bishops were associated with the gospels. Bishops, and bishops only, had open gospel books placed over their heads during their ordination ritual."

Dr Luca Badini, from the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, said: "It was known that women bishops were preaching at that time but very little evidence exists of it. There are still some people who argue on the basis of tradition, stating that they can't allow women to minister because it's never been done before, but of course, that's not true."

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Carol's Reflection:
The Universe never ceases to amaze me.

Just yesterday I claimed publicly for anyone to read, that I am the Eighth Bishop who was present at the Feast celebrating Santa Maria de Montserrat.

Today this article comes across my computer. I feel encouraged by this knowledge and grateful to share it.

I know there will always be those who will not accept, that's the way it is with humans. It is very difficult to unlearn and to allow ourselves to disbelieve what we have believed to always be true...

Fact is, the Universe, Science, great Hearts of Truth, know that there is nothing that doesn't evolve, grow and change, because that is the way creation constantly is.

All we need do is pay attention to the seasons of the year to know we are in a constant cycle of birth, life, death, birth, life, death, birth....That is what the Paschal Mystery is all about: Jesus' Birth, Life, Death, New Life which is Birth and the cycle continues through us.

Yep, it is simply the way it is, whether or not we believe it.

In my years of personal evolution, I have learned to choose different words. I no longer say I BELIEVE anything. However, there are very important things that I KNOW for certain because of all that has been shown me through my experience and the experiences all around me.

My challenge to all of us today is to make a couple of lists:
What do you believe?
What do you know? 
Take some time to think about and compare your lists. 
How are your lists the same or different?
Do you teach your heart to be open to new ways of understanding?
Do you feel it is important to hold to the childhood truths that you consider the most sacred?
Is it possible that you are being invited into another layer of the most sacred?
What are the consequences if you hold on to what you have always believed? If you allow yourself to consider other possibilities of the Sacred being revealed to you?
Do you think God revealed truth to you once and for all?
Do you think God continues to reveal divine truth to you?
Where are you most comfortable? In what truth?
What is your truth?

So many questions - Remember, I only share with you, the questions that I ask myself. God is an amazing reality. I don't want to miss knowing, experiencing, feeling what God has for me today.

Brothers and Sisters, be at peace in the truth you hold dear.

Carol 
AKA Bishop Sophia, Independent Catholic 
AKA The Reverend Doctor Carol P Vaccariello.
AKA Pastor Carol. 
AKA simply me 
loving you

Saturday, April 27, 2019

2019-04-27. The Feast of Santa Maria de Monserrat

Okay - so today is the actual Feast Day celebrating Santa Maria de Montserrat. 
Banner on front of Basilica for Easter and Feast Day of Santa Maria de Montserrat
Started this morning 7:00 a.m. with Missa de L’Albas. (Mass at Dawn) which was held in the Cambril, the small chapel behind the statue of the Black Virgin. It lasted an hour, about 30 minutes longer than I expected. The same monks who led this Mass left immediately to lead Laudes, Morning Prayer in the basilica. Then we were all late to get breakfast, but I was waiting in that line because I had foregone last night’s Sopar so that I would have a seat for the entire festivities of the Vigil which began with Vespers 18:15 (6:15 p.m.) and ended with the Vigil Mass after midnight. When I left the Basilica, the people were doing circle folk dances in the Square. Music was blaring from loudspeakers. It was so magical. I saw people hanging out of the apartment windows to receive the energy and watch what was going on in the street.

Breakfast this morning was a wonderful disaster! We had that awesome hot chocolate “drink” that is more the consistency of hot cooked chocolate pudding. I dipped the sweet breads into it and lost myself in sweet tender morsels thick in decadent chocolate. Can you taste it?

Of course, after that I ate a healthy breakfast of croissant with tomato squeezed pulp, salami, pepperoni, cheese. I had two of these incredible MINI breakfast sandwiches. 

Don’t be so quick to judge. 
Remember I didn’t have dinner last evening. ☺️

How do you satisfy and rationalize your wants and desires?
What is your brand of “Chocolate”?
How many minis is enough?
What are your favorite ways of fooling yourself?

I finished with coffee stirred into my chocolate coated cup, added hot milk, remembered how much MOM loved Mocha! Fr. Louis put me at a table with all men. Mostly Priests and the Bishop of the Northern Spain border area with France. Last evening this Bishop offered some of the Mass prayers with his deep sonorous French that added a touch of classic difference so the sounds of the evening. I love the mix of culture and tradition here. It is possible that the place where I started the Camino de Santiago in Southern France is part of his jurisdiction.

This morning one of the young men who sat across from me at breakfast was talking about the seven Bishops at the Vigil Mass. I told him that I knew there were at least eight Bishops there last night. He said, no, he counted them. I said, so did I, and there were eight. He looked at me quizzically. I said, “I am a Bishop in the Independent Catholic Movement.” I went on to explain and he was caught up with this new knowledge. I explained some of the history and how I manifest this aspect of my calling. Then my awareness kicked in. At our breakfast table, there were eight men and myself and two Bishops! When I am in my Bishop mood, I wear my Bishop’s Amethyst Ring. It reminds me of who and what I am called to be and do.
Eight Bishops - count Seven pointed hats called a "Mitre" - one is the Abbot and one you can't see - ME
Do you ever need to be reminded about who you are and what your call is?
I use my rings as symbols to remind me. 
Do you need reminders? 
Have you ever thought about that? 
What do you use? 
What will you use?
Are you still working out who you are? 
Don’t sweat it. So am I ?
Maybe the reason we don’t seem to figure it out is because the dimensions of our Call are fluid. Your thoughts?

After breakfast I decided to go to the Hostal for about an hour. Then I wanted to return in time to capture the Monastery Bells that would call for Mass to begin in 15 minutes followed by the Bells that announced Mass was starting. I set up my computer and noticed immediately the message from Oscar of MRTV. Since I wasn’t sure what it said and truly couldn’t believe my eyes when I thought I understood what it said, I organized and rushed to the Monastery Offices to locate Oscar for a face to face meeting in order to comprehend fully what I thought he emailed to me. A couple of days ago, in response to several emails from me requesting photos that I saw his team of pros taking, he sent 18 photos of Holy Week. From what Google Translate and I could decipher, I thought that was all that I would get from him. I offered to pay for the photos. I was happy with receiving any. I did decide to push just a bit and asked if he thought he would be getting any more. I knew the photographers took hundreds of shots. I was right there watching them. Many of the photos were taken from the small chapel where I was seated with my Retreat Group.

I rushed to the monastery offices to find him, the receptionist said he wouldn’t be in today. I told her I just received a message and thought he was here. She double checked and no he isn’t in today. He must have sent the email from home. I asked her to read the message that he sent me to be sure I understood. She did and she verified what I thought. He sent 236 additional photos. I was overjoyed. I asked about a fee for these professional photos. She said there was no fee! 

As I write this reflection, the 236 photos are downloading into my computer. According to the message I received they are available for 7 days. If I don’t download, they disappear. So download I am, before I forget or before I lose WIFI connection.

Brother Pau helps in that department and we are close friends. Maybe there was some influence, or maybe Oscar got tired of my pleading emails? or maybe his photo team just got around to sending more to him? or maybe, he sorted through the myriads of photos they took and determined which he thought were appropriate to share and not a breach of privacy?

Ever out-wonder yourself with “maybes,” instead of accepting the “what is” of a situation?
How do you live with the wonder of the surprises, the gifts that just come?
Do you allow surprises to be just that? 
or do you have to minimalize them? 
kind of robs you of the wonder and joy of the moment,
doesn’t it.

I am sitting with my computer in the private first floor chapel in the guest wing of the Monastery, 
all alone, 
in the dark, 
all is well.😌

The Bells - I can’t forget the Bells on this special day. There they go! I leave my computer in the Chapel and run with my phone to the Plaça to take in the bells. Amazing as I video and record the sound and all the people flooding to the Basilica for the 11:00 Mass. Tourists are held outside while familiar faces of church members and regular worshippers, like me, are welcomed in. Once we are set, then the tourists are welcomed into the back half of the pews.

Since I went to Mass at Dawn, I don’t feel an urge to attend in this throng again. I know the Cardinal is here from Rome to say the Mass. I think he will do fine without me. I am enjoying solitude.

The photos have finished downloading. 
I hear people preparing to leave the Monastery as they pack up and start out. 
Feels like a moment of completions.

How do you manage the completions in your reality?
Do you enjoy completion?
Do you long for never endings?
For me, it truly depends on what is completing.
There have been times when I have longed for the completion of a life of a loved one that has known so much pain and struggle. At the very same time, I longed for that life to NEVER end. Completion is sometimes a blessing and sometimes so hard.
How are you living in and through your experience of completion?

Circle Dancing
Outside folks are gathering. I hear instruments tuning up, a folk band begins directly under the chapel windows in the ancient arches of the cloister remains from the original monastery. Feels like a dance is in the making. Fun to listen to this folk-style music filled with joy and dancing feet. The crowd is cheering as they pause for their first break. I must go outside and see what is happening. The circle dancing goes on and on! What a people.

Street Band

Friday, April 26, 2019

2019-04-26 Feast Day Vigil of Santa Maria de Montserrat

San Miguel's Creu (Saint Michael's Cross) 
Big day of celebration on the Mountain!
Feast Day Vigil of Santa Maria de Montserrat

First, I must say a word about a strange repetitive occurrence. 

Yesterday morning I was awakened around 4:15 a.m. when my Cell phone fell on my face from a shelf above my head where is was charging. This morning when I left the Basilica after visiting the Black Madonna, I walked through the area where people light candles of remembrance and praise. As I was exiting, I walked head first into a glass door that was impossible to see, because they keep everything so clean. My observation: two days in a row, head bonked in strange ways. What is it that I am not getting or not paying attention to? I only have through Monday to discover the answer to that question.
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A beautiful day! Hiked on the mountain this morning to Saint Michael, (Sant Miguel), the Archangel’s Cross and Chapel. Wind is very strong. I decide it is not the safest place to be in these strong winds. I look around the base of the Cross and see gifts left by others: money, photos and plaques, memorials. I can feel the pain and loss that saturates this place. The Wind has a big job, cleansing and refreshing so many hearts from pain and sorrow. Saint Michael is the Patron Guardian of these Mountains.

I see money scattered all around. It appears to be untouched. 
Here on the Mountain at the foot of this cross, it is not money. 
It is something else. 
Do you have any idea what to call it? 
I don’t.

I mountain meandered for a couple of hours. Listened and recorded Bells and Birds in mind’s storage and phones video. Strange sounding languages all around me. Walking alone is my preference. I center on the feeling of the mountain and everything around me. It isn’t just about me being here. It’s more about here embracing me.

Do you have a place, a space that embraces you? 
How is that different from you visiting that place?

I wish that the sacredness of the mountain was obvious to every visitor, but it’s not. Some talk and squeal the entire time they walk and never see or take in anything around them. I really don’t understand why they come here. Absolute beauty forsaken.

There are numerous statues, markers, reminders of the Ancestors. 
Most folks are totally unaware. I wish I could approach and let them know what they are missing. 

Two women at Sant Michael hermitage, don’t even seem to notice me walking into their space. Another hiker, a man, now has their attention with some big story. He stops for a cigarette. Really? Here in this sacred place? That’s like lighting a cigarette in the Basilica. 

I don’t say anything because I don’t have the words to say. I keep to myself. They keep talking in piercing tones that I find annoying. I remind myself that if I understood, I might join in. 

I am glad I don’t understand. I want to remain in Mountain Communion. The Mass Bells tug at me. I wonder if I should have considered attending today? The Mass is scheduled daily at 11:00 a.m. The time of the day is difficult. There isn’t a long stretch of time to walk the mountain.

What do you hold Sacred?
Do you make time for the Sacred in your daily life?

After a couple of hours, I returned to my Hostal, the first building that I came to on the return path. I spend time responding to FB and other messages. It has been a blessing to connect and re-connect with so many through FB. I am realizing the closeness that I feel with people I haven’t seen or communicated with for 20-30 years or more.

Are there folks that you would like to reconnect with?
What stops you from doing that?
Do you have a plan to reconnect, before it is too late?

There are an exceptional number of people here today and more and more pouring in. Today is the Vigil of the Feast of Santa Maria of Montserrat. At lunch, I ate with three women whose names were Montserrat. They are here to celebrate this special day. Although the actual Feast Day is April 27th, it is customary to begin the celebration on the evening before. There are more people coming into the Hostal. I still have the luxury of having three empty beds in my room and so far, I am not sharing. That could quickly change as Pilgrims and lovers of Montserrat flood the town.

Do you guard your personal space?
Are there times when you want alone time?
When is that for you?
How do you make that happen for your inner being?

We had an interesting and very tasty lunch. We were told that it was Goat and we think it was turkey! Go figure.

Currently I am sitting in the large area where folks eventually will be coming to eat. Since this building is new, most don’t know what facilities are available. I looked out the window and saw two fully habited nuns walking down the street, one of them has on a neon green baseball cap over her headpiece and veil! Even with the bright sun, I didn’t expect to see that.

Are there unexpected things that make you smile?
Maybe you aren’t paying close enough attention!

This morning as I was finishing up my writing time, one of the Monk Postulants, that’s a person who is just beginning his religious studies and formation for this community lifestyle, recognized me from seeing me at prayer. He came to talk. He explained the events of today and tomorrow and I learned things I would not have known. I know there are signs posted, but, I sometimes miss things that I don’t understand. Tonight, the Mass is at 10:00 p.m. (22:00 hours) which is preceded by a concert at 9:00 pm. (21:00 hours). In the morning there will be a special Mass at 7:00 a.m. in the Cambril, the area behind the Statue of the Black Virgin.

One of the Monks, a close friend, emailed this morning. He alerted me to the pre-service concert that will take place showcasing the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Red Book of Montserrat), a 14th-century manuscript compiled by the Monks. It is named for the red binding into which the collection was placed in the 19th century. These are late medieval songs and dances, one of the most famous manuscripts of ancient music. Tonight, they will be performed by local Catalonian Musicians.

I have decided to forego dinner which is normally served at 8:00 p.m.(20:00 hours) in order to get a seat in the Basilica. Father Toni told me, if I want a place to sit, I must be early.

What means so much to you that you would forego a meal to attend?
When was the last time you wanted something that much?

I do find it quite amazing how the people flood this place. It is not an easy place to get to way up here on the Mountain. To discourage cars, because of the lack of parking space available, the rates are expensive. People are encouraged to take the Rack Rail Train up the mountain. 

The Basilica is often filled. All the pews, seats, people sitting on the floor in front of the pews and along the sides. The isles will be packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder and front to back with little to no room to move. It is calm and expected. No one seems to have any problem with this. It is just the way it is. Some people will come prepared with stadium sitting pads, prepared to sit on the cold hard stone steps or floor.

Would you sit on a cold stone floor for four hours for anything?

I have been alerted that after the Concert, which begins at 9:00 p.m., Mass begins at 10:00. There will be many dignitaries here from CHURCH and STATE! Catalonia is a politically charged place. It is likely that the ceremonies will go till 1:00 a.m. and start again at 7:00 a.m.

Lots of reflective thoughts and questions are running around in my head. 
I’ve interspersed some in the thoughts above.

Time to post and get ready for tonight’s gala events.