Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Three nights, two days 'til Santa Fe;
Land of Enchantment, indeed.
Named sacred grove by John the Baptist:
long-haired, deep-drawled, bearded son of a…preacherman
who knows holy when he feels it.
"Don't let those honey locusts bother you none, son."

Almost a year ago, we set our sights on home;
the Prophet Joel made it home in time
to pack up 16 vestal virgins and head out for the coastline.
Kathy stashed her smokes, 4 books of matches and magic tales
of the wild blond-haired Viking, Fuzzy, ready to have at it: Chapter 2.
The Queen of Queens turned 'round and disappeared
before the echo of "goodbye" stopped ringing.
Too many others to name: all different, each one vital, sacred.
Places everyone: curtain going up on this Passion Play.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Tall buildings jut from flat land,
an artificial mountain range with no holy foundation.
A random empty lot is quickly named prairie
in a desperate effort to gain some drama.

On the journey, I meet those rooted to their place
in a way I’m not; I jealously listen
as history rolls off their tongues;
stories and eyes sparkle in the retelling.
Immigrant parents gifted me with tales
watered down by the Atlantic crossing.
Unable to see and feel the land,
I searched for my own stories:
but railroad crossings, alley paths and new traffic lights
don’t hold the same romance.

Through grit and grace and gratitude,
I find the world is open.
No limits on ownership, I fill my empty places
with all the beauty I can hold.
From leaping Gulf Stream dolphins
to western snowcapped peaks.
Wild rivers rushing
to the breathe of God lightly brushing a still early morning lake top.
Bright orange and red desert landscapes speak to me
as I close my eyes in prayer,
closer now to God in nature’s sanctuary
with my newly repaired heart.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The next story isn’t really true (but it could be…maybe). It came to me during one of my times of meditation at Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado:


The red-brown bricks of the sanctuary welcome me.
Two circles of chairs, one within the other:
even without words I seem to know
the inner circle is for monks,
the outer for the rest.
With the room dimly, yet warmly lit,
it’s easy to close my eyes.

A soft sound and I look up
to see monks and guests slowly enter,
bowing low to the statue in the corner.
Seats easily found.
A soft, low, droning sound enfolds me;
not bothersome as you think,
but growing in intensity
as each new person joins the circles.

Soon enough, the chapel bell peals,
the single note reaches a peak
and the lights in the room start to brighten.
Slowly I sense, before I see, each monk lift off his chair;
young and old, able and infirmed,
all rise into the air and hover.
I’ve gone to a place where this seems quite
expected; as a guest I sit still in prayer.

A second note joins the first,
a sweet, timeless harmony.
I close my eyes as it seems
the sounds call me to do.
A brush of air against my arm lets me know my old friend
Holy Spirit has come to be with me.
At peace, I open my eyes
just in time to take in the sight of each monk
spinning in place in perfect balance.

This holy time has a feel of the ordinary
as a sense stirs within me,
letting me know this all comes from a deeper place.

At last, the spinning monks slow
and gently alight on their seats.
The room begins to slowly darken once again
just as God’s light shines within.
Sound, harmony, light, movement and prayer,
Blessed be the Creator of them all.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


A restless heart in search of peace,
following paths laid before me.
Wise guides fall into my life
affirming true North of my compass.

Far flung travel to new places, new faces,
kindred souls in search of community.
Gather together if but for a short time
sharing stories of old journeys and new.

Returning refreshed, renewed in spirit.
Certain of deep calling to deep.
Recommitted to head back out again
until we find our rest.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Remembering the pressed metal backyard swing for two
with heavy squeaky springs; my secret summer oasis
under the large maple tree; with laundry strung
on white vinyl lines, I was hidden from everyone’s view.
No companion but a book needed to pass a summer afternoon;
occasional sounds of push mower blades spinning quickly
at the end of a pass; wind blowing those maple branches and leaves
creating a soothing, peaceful backdrop.
Sprinklers cutting wide swaths to reach the vegetable garden
of tall, staked tomato plants, beets and pole beans.
Multi-colored zinnias in a narrow strip of dirt near the fence;
no fertile ground went unplanted.
A perfect spot to join young rebels twenty leagues from Bostontown
as they struggled for their freedom, or pilgrims on their way to Agra
with elephants in tow. Project Mercury heroes might share the afternoon
with Adam and Eve and a not so friendly serpent.
All were welcome to share this secret sacred space
and fill my heart and head with still fresh dreams.


At the dawn of this new morning,
I awaken to Your word.

At the dawn of this new morning,
I open my ears to hear Your Word

At the dawn of this new morning,
I open my heart to feel Your Word

At the dawn of this new morning,
I shall dance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Across the shaky bridge over the rushing river,
on Ardross Street near the center of Inverness
lies the stately Saint Andrew’s Cathedral.
Bricks made grimy by time and pollution cannot hide the beauty
of this monument to faith. Tired but needy travelers
enter the church, early for evensong. Stepping lightly
on marble floor, futile efforts to make no sound.
We make our way into ancient wooden pews
that creak with every touch. We’re guests at rehearsal
of the young girls’ choir; pure, sweet voices rise to the rafters,
sounds absorbed by high wooden beams, making the building stronger.
The choirmaster sits before the young women,
leading them through the subtle notes of ancient hymns
that pierce our hearts. Under his feet lies a great old,
white retriever, content to lay with his head upon the floor,
lulled to rest by these songs, until he spots some strangers.
Slowly hefting his bulk, his weary head hangs low
as he gently makes his way down the steps onto the center aisle.
With great intent and slow gait, this sexton comes to greet us.
A gentle nudge of our hand to scratch his head
is all the price we’re asked. A soulful glance into our eyes
lets us know the Holy Spirit lives here.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Like a temptress in an ancient sailor’s tale,
the holy isle of Iona calls out to me,
just as she called to Saint Columba
a millenium and a half ago.

Fierce North Sea winds batter the shore,
but islanders hardly notice for they expect to pay the price

for living where the veil between heaven and earth
is at its thinnest.
On the steep walk up the roughly paved hill,
I pass small stone cottages with tiny windows

framed inside by short lace curtains.
A potted bright red geranium stands
as a stalwart symbol of nature tamed.

I hear a siren’s call yet again.
She stands on a jutting cliff, face raised to the sky,
scarlet hair twisting like a tornado about her head.
A woolen scarf ‘round her shoulders,
full flowing skirt wrapping her legs,
she sings to the morning sky.

I shake my head as if to awaken; the song is gone,
and so I shrug and carry on to the abbey.

The short picket fence and swinging gate
seem laughable.
As I enter the grounds, I take the path to St. Oran’s chapel.
A tiny building in the midst of the graveyard of kings.
Inside, a single kneeler and a tray of tealights
are offered for modern pilgrims.
A family of tiny birds makes its home in the rafters
and doesn’t care much for the intrusion.
I turn to leave, and the bravest little bird
swoops out the entrance showing me the way out.

The abbey garden overflows with flowers of deep, rich colors.
Cool damp weather sends roots deep into the ground
and tall stalks to the sky.
A family gathers to read from a missal
some prayers for the dead.
They scatter the chalky white remains
among the thistles and fuschia.

A herd of black-faced sheep run wildly away
from their master and herder dog,
delighting in the game they’ve begun
but which they know they’re fated
to lose. You can almost see the sheep smirk
as they fall back in line.
The herder dog holds wisdom in his eyes.
His task done, he slowly walks over to me,
sits, and bows his head for a quick pat and a scratch.

Entering the Abbey hearing spoken prayers
floating as if carried on wings,
alighting gently on our hearts and souls.

I am blessed.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Two easy chairs, glasses of wine,
shoes cast off, a gentle time
present for one another.
This gathering feels closer to His truth
than the wide open spaces
in Man’s temple.

No church, no steeple,
look inside, where are all the people?
Don’t recall reading about neckties
or sling-back pumps
in the book of Acts.

Sit down across from me,
let me softly look in your eyes
and I’ll listen
as you tell me your story
of how you came to be.
What are your dreams? What are your pains?
What gives you strength
to wake up each day
and courage
to go to sleep each lonely night
or to tell a stranger your dreams?

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Camping in God’s creation,
Saturday afternoon, a time to “be,”
reading quietly on a picnic bench in the woods.
Distracted by the sight of a tiny spider
slowly dropping into view
I look above to see
where he could’ve come from.
A canopy of evergreens –
a treacherous trip.
Continuing to read,
I keep one eye on the still spider.
Reaching for a small piece of dried up leaf,
I gently nudge him
to move ever so slightly.
He’s quite content to sit and consider
just exactly how I’d gotten there
and what I was doing.
I return to my book,
happy for the company.

Lying back on the picnic bench
is a welcome respite,
however my eyes grow weary.
Placing the book on my chest,
I look up at the painted sky,
tired yet unable to close my eyes,
I begin a favorite childhood game
of watching clouds on a small palette
through a narrow gap of trees.
Soon a thin cloud appears,
seeming to circle back on itself,
looking like a snail,
complete with a long neck and a pair of antennae.
Curiosity piqued, I keep an eye
on this movie screen,
ready for the next feature.
It isn’t long before I’m rewarded
by the rare sight of a hawk
floating lazily above the trees.

In my youth I thought symbolism was “hooey,”
an invention of spinster English teachers
with too much time on their hands.
But, many years later, I’m the one
who often finds these patterns.
Slowing down enough to recognize
the visits by nature’s holy trinity,
I see the I AM in this world.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


A wide path cut in the tall grass
allows us to walk in the otherwise dense green woods.
But first, we stop to pick up Muffin and Riley
in the cabin they call home.
Two burly golden retrievers
who years ago made a sacred covenant with man
to give up their wild lives
in return for companionship, food and love.
Heavily scented milkweed pierces our nose
as delicate white and yellow flowers sit
atop long stems waving in the breeze
competing for attention.
A tall tree, now dead,
once a Beltane maypole
is still wrapped in multi-covered ribbons.
The dogs scamper ahead in excitement
as a bunny scoots through the clearing,
not in any danger as the dogs
do their best fake chase just for fun.
We come upon the frame of the old sweat lodge
bringing instant memories
of deep emotions
back to the surface.
Lightly brushing them off, we continue on
recognizing those tiny red berries
than neither man nor beast will ever try to taste.
The dogs have disappeared in the high grass
but a quick whistle brings them bounding out,
looking for all the world
like a dog food commercial we’ve seen a million times.
A final leap into the river,
for a refreshing dip and drink
and soaked dog tails spraying my face
bring this outing to a wet end.
Man, dogs, nature, grace…..sweet!

Monday, July 10, 2006


The weakening pale yellow glow
of early evening sun
reflects off the polished hardwood floor
showing every imperfection.

No wonder the kitchen table wobbles.

Years from now we'll struggle
to recall those precious times
when we all gathered as one.

But how easily we'll remember,
with a slow grin,
those child-like see-saw moments
when we passed the potatoes.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Breakfast table chatter,
unfocused, rapid, urgent, constant
striving to prove
we survived the dark night.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


A tour boat pulls alongside the dock
ready for novice sailors.
The Isle of Staffa and Fingal’s Cave
the reward at the other end.
Mendelsohn composed here,

entranced by the rhythm
and sound of the waves

crashing onto the rocky shoreline.

A staircase carved into the side
of the island allows me to scale this mound.

Following my mind’s meanderings,
I make my way to the western side of the island - alone.

Finding a small crevice with a flat rock to sit on,
a little shelf to rest my elbow,

I sit watching the waves.
The craggy hillside is dotted with nests of seagulls
that swoop down to the sea
and glide back again to rest on the cliff.

A light drizzle begins
and so I start back to the pier,
but not before climbing to the summit.
Lying on the ground,
I say a silent prayer
of re-commitment to my Creator.
At that moment, through closed eyes,
I sense a source of light.
Slowly opening my eyes,
I see the sun struggling
to shine through overcast skies.
The light drizzle of this day is a gift from God,
a renewal of Baptism;
and the sunshine
a sense of the power and beauty of God

in this remote place.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


This poem is late, but more on that
later. A lazy afternoon on the
4th of July. A perfect time to crack
open that brand new book from Amazon.

I take to my bed for a gentle read.
But soon Basil joins me - orange tabby cat,
king of the house, he sits and looks thinking:
"It’s the middle of the day,

don't fall asleep,
we might miss a meal,

what's that in your hand?"

A gentle head nudge reminds me he's there,
just as I reach a new poem. Maybe
he'd like me to read it aloud to him.
I speak the first words and his head gently
turns, eyes meeting mine, he holds a steady
gaze - darshan. Soon, a low purr joins my spoken words
in a co-written soundtrack just for us.

Impatient as always he nudges once more:
"Aren't you done yet,
my throat hurts,
let's eat."

Finished, I set the book aside, content
that we've shared some special time together.
He desperately wants me to put down my arms,
it's a custom of his, to lie on top of my hand,
gently cradling his belly.
The purring returns on his terms, of course.
His message:

"We are One;
but your poem must wait 'til I'm done."

Monday, July 03, 2006


Where do you keep your secrets?
Come whisper in my ear,
of dark, moist places hidden
out of love or is it fear?

Where do you keep your secrets?
In a rusty metal box,
Or better still in nature
under giant heavy rocks?

Where do you keep your secrets?
Your longings, your desires.
Can you hide them all forever,
From persitent flames of fire?

Where do you keep your secrets?
In your nervous laugh and smile.
Do you wear them ‘round your waist
or at your feet in a large pile?

No, I see them in your face my love,
the crags and those deep lines
belie the smile you offer
and reveal the truth that shines.

Where do you keep your secrets?
No more questions, no more time.
For your secrets are a gift from God.
Now your turn, ask me mine.


My spine is wide open,
yet I feel nothing.
Girded to take on
the unfulfilled dreams of my family.
Hoping to heal
then move on.

Stuck in one place
by an unlived past,
an unrelieved past
I set off on foot,
a pilgrim of healing.
Walking stick in hand.

But then with a quiver,
I realize the truth.
That the peace I must make
is not with the world
but with my ancestors.

The pain passed along
through a hundred frustrations
have formed a tough shell
to be cracked and peeled off.

Rose petals scattered
on open sores
cover the wounds and
begin healing the pain.

In order to stand
and take one’s place
as a fragile being
in a more fragile world.