A Solstice Photo and Story Shared from the Camino, Part I

Today I choose to share with you this beautiful banner photo and the story behind it.  I find the photo inspiring for many reasons. And the story behind it too.

Nadine Walks narrates a prose poem on her experience of the Camino.

The picture above was taken a few days ago by a 42-year-old friend of mine who is currently walking the pilgrimage trail called the Camino.  This is not the first time he has walked the Camino but the fourth or fifth time and this time he started in Portugal, not France or Spain. 

My friend is a Buddhist and indigenous—he is a member of the Mien people from Laos whose parents escaped the ravages of the Vietnam war fleeing Laos on foot.  All the while on the rugged journey, his mother was pregnant with him, her first child. 

Pregnancy, war, hardiness, determination, desire to survive, hard journeying, emigration, immigration, ecumenism–lots of universal happenings in this one story.

My friend was raised in a camp for refugees in Thailand and eventually his family immigrated to the United States.  He now lives in Northern California where he teaches math in high school.  His mother now lives as a nun in a modest Buddhist Temple in Oakland, California and it was my privilege to join that community in their Temple on the occasion of the death of my friend’s partner a few months ago. 

“The Sun Dance.” Introductory explanation by The Densmore Repatriation Project.

Several years before that I got a call one morning asking if I would officiate at his wedding in their living room.  For the hastily arranged wedding, only one other person in attendance, and I brought sacred feathers to pray with the couple with whom I danced my latest Sun Dance among the Lakota community in Goldendale, Washington.  

That Sun Dance community was originally created by my friend and co-worker Buck Ghosthorse.  I was given those sacred feathers to pray with at the Sun Dance and afterwards they were mailed to me as a gift by the wife of one of the leaders (a son of Buck who is now passed).  She is from Egypt.  

“Eagle Feather.” Photo by Umnak on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

I carry that Sun Dance (and others) with me always and I pray with them regularly especially when I pray to the four directions.  

When my Thai/ Mien/ Buddhist/ Indigenous friend’s partner was dying a few months ago, I blessed his partner with the same sacred feathers with which I had married them.  

He passed on a few hours later.  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a New Renaissance.  

And Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.

Also see Fox, Wilson, and Lustig, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “El Camino Pilgrimage.” Photo by Kyle, gifted to Matthew Fox. Published with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

Be with the banner photo for a while.  What is it telling you?  And the story behind it?

Recommended Reading

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

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5 thoughts on “A Solstice Photo and Story Shared from the Camino, Part I”

  1. Avatar

    The Camino In film and television from Wikipedia –

    The pilgrimage is central to the plot of the film The Milky Way (1969), directed by surrealist Luis Buñuel. It is intended to critique the Catholic church.

    The Naked Pilgrim (2003) documents the journey of art critic and journalist Brian Sewell to Santiago de Compostela for the UK’s Channel Five. Travelling by car along the French route, he visited many towns and cities on the way including Paris, Chartres, Roncesvalles, Burgos, León and Frómista.

    The Way of St. James was the central feature of the film Saint Jacques… La Mecque (2005) directed by Coline Serreau.

    In The Way (2010), written and directed by Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen learns that his son (Estevez) has died early along the route and takes up the pilgrimage in order to complete it on the son’s behalf.

    On his PBS travel Europe television series, Rick Steves covers Northern Spain and the Camino de Santiago in series 6.

    In 2013, Simon Reeve presented the “Pilgrimage” series on BBC2, in which he followed various pilgrimage routes across Europe, including the Camino de Santiago in episode 2.

    In 2014, Lydia B Smith[52] and Future Educational Films released Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago in theatres across the U.S. and Canada. The film features the accounts and perspectives of six pilgrims.

    In 2018, series one of BBC Two’s Pilgrimage followed this pilgrimage.

  2. Avatar

    Today’s image and the teaching of the Sundance, brought back many memories for me. I have had the blessing and privelege of dancing in the ceremony of the Sundance, in Arizona. The whole ceremony took 10 days, as I helped build the arbor that encircled the sacred tree, the four Sweat Lodges, as well as dressed the sacred tree with medicine items.

    We did not pierce our bodies, nor were we tied to the sacred tree as demonstrated in the video. Dressed in regalia, we blew eagle whistles as 200 of us danced in prayer to and from the sacred tree of life, to the sound of the drums and ancient chants, all day and all night for 3 days, with a dream time rest between 3-6 a.m.

    I’ve also danced prayerfully this way, in a shorter version of Sundance, called an Eagle Dance, both as a dancer and a drummer/singer in the Haliburton Highlands. I’ve been drumming and singing the ancient healing chants now, for over 25 years now; continuing to gather with the core drum team.

    All of these ceremonies over the years have been so very transformative in so many ways. I am truly grateful for the blessing and privilege of having been included and invited to participate, as a non-native white woman in in these deeply soul healing sacred and ancient ceremonies and the wisdom teachings shared with me over the years.

    Thank you Mathew, for personally sharing some of your Sundance story!

  3. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for today’s beautiful DM of the story of your Indigenous friend and his photograph from his spiritual pilgrimage in Spain, called the Camino de Santiago. Also thanks to your DM team for including the beautiful and informative video of the spiritual prayer of the Native Americans called “The Sun Dance” (our brother Sun along with Sacred Mother Earth)….

  4. Avatar

    I learned so much from the two videos you included in today’s meditation. I’d never seen the Camino. I’m glad that the Lakota people got their religious culture back again but at a terrible cost. An original sin of America. Their ways are needed to heal our collective wounds.

  5. Avatar

    I first hear of the Camino in a mystery novel, “Death of a Pilgrim”, by David Dickinson. My friends in our small book club were fascinated, and we went on to read Shirley Maclaine’s book, “The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit”. Her book was filled with interesting details about the route, the people she met, and, of course, her spiritual musings. She is the one that mentioned that the Camino follows an even more ancient route, beneath the Milky Way–that may be why the movie that Bill mentioned was critical of the Catholic Church as perhaps appropriating the earlier “pagan” customs and traditions. At any rate, I cannot see how anyone could fail to be transformed by traveling even a short distance along such a path–exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I must admit I am envious of those who can take advantage of such a cosmic gift.

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