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.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


He wore the burden
of beauty not well.
And so one day,
escaping his cage,
a prison no more,
he stood still on the ground,
and found no one noticed.

He missed the acclaim
so spreading his feathers
he tried to return to
the confines of old
and found
a thousand eyes on him.

Happy at last.
Inspiration and artwork courtesy of and used by permission of
Christine Valters Paintner at abbeyofthearts.com
(Edit note: My brother in Christ,
John the Baptist, spotted my error.
A peacock is, in fact, the male of the
species. I've revised the poem to reflect
this fact. I think it makes the poem all
the more interesting now. Eh?)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Old dry eyes,
shed no tears,
words of truth,

pierce the heart,
water springs,

bubble up,
cleansing sight,

love's rebirth.

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Friday, August 24, 2007


Friday, August 10, 2007


I alluded to the above address in my previous post. It is the location in Santa Fe, just off the town plaza, where nuclear engineers worked in secret during World War II on plans for the atom bomb. If you go to that address today, you'll find an upscale bed and bath shop with very little indication of its nefarious past. On each of my visits to Santa Fe, I make a point of walking past that location and noting its presence. I'm not sure why.

The title of my blog is Pilgrim Path. Most of my entries are about my life experiences and how they relate to the spiritual path that I'm on. Some of the entries are very much "in your face" about my spirituality while others are fairly lighthearted. But all of these experiences total up to the person of faith that I am today - but just today, because it's fairly likely something will happen, or I'll meet someone, that will slightly shift my perspective on life and faith and cause me to make a mid-trip adjustment on my way to....well, wherever it is I'm going.

109 Palace Avenue...it is an address that has changed the world. Just in the past week, the anniversary of the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was commemorated. The combined death toll from these bombings defies comprehension - over 10 times the number of victims of 9/11 were instantly incinerated by these bombs. The after effects of these heinous acts continue to play themselves out in Japan and the world today. A formerly white-hot presidential campaign was tripped up in the past few weeks by the candidate's stumbling, bumbling inexperienced answer to a question about the use of nuclear weapons. At the same time, a store clerk in Santa Fe wrapped up a purchase, declared, "Have a nice day!" and a customer smiled, walking out the front door of 109 Palace Avenue with a package of fresh new bed sheets and pillow cases.

Recently, a custom has developed in the US of placing makeshift wooden crosses by the side of the road where victims lost their lives in traffic accidents. Teddy bears and plastic flower bouquets dot the landscape alongside these crosses on just about any interstate you travel. At 109 Palace Avenue there is a sign announcing an annual white sale. O-bla-di,

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I find it interesting how my posts this week are growing organically from one to the other from some hidden place. After having written about the "dog days" of summer, I'm reminded of yet another story from my week in Santa Fe.

Just prior to the start of the Glen Workshop, Santa Fe hosted the annual Spanish Market and Contemporary Hispanic Market in the Plaza and surrounding streets. It was a colorful event with simply amazing art and delicious food that made my wallet, but not my waist, significantly thinner.

The side benefit of this art event was the wide array of foodstuffs available from all sorts of stands and carts. It must be all those youthful days spent at carnivals and county fairs that brings it out in me, but I find roasted corn to be an undeniable treat. And so, I made my way to the corn vendor, plunked down my money and savored the smell of my favorite vegetable dripping in hot butter (YUM!) . There was a nice little area set aside in a downtown parking lot with chairs and tables and umbrellas where one could sit, eat, and watch the parade of humanity pass by.

Just as I was finishing my corn, a woman in a GORE2000 T-shirt passed by. Considering the current national state of affairs, I wistfully began to dream of how different life would now be had those paper "chads" not "hung" in Florida as they did. After claiming a spot at a nearby table, I watched the woman look furtively for her friends or relations. But it was not humans this woman was awaiting - it was the most adorable rust-colored dachshund puppy being lovingly toted in a soft carrier by what I assumed was the woman's adult son. No infant child (well, maybe one) could have been more warmly welcomed into a "parent's" loving arms.

At this point, sitting on a card table chair, holding a thoroughly chewed ear of corn and smiling idiotically, it's no wonder that the woman looked over at me. But soon I detected her glance shift from my face to my ear of corn. In a moment of grand illumination that I'm sure Santa Fe hasn't seen since the atomic scientists working at 109 Palace Avenue during World War II discovered fission (or was it fusion?), the GORE2000 woman and I struck upon the same idea at the same time - wouldn't this darling puppy just love to chew on that ear of corn? She had barely opened her mouth when I began to rise from my chair and deliberately walk over to her. Barely a word needed to be spoken between us except for her to say, his name is "Kevin." And so, a little dog shall lead them, by tiny paw steps (wait...his feet never touched the ground!), into the ecological world of recycling ears of corn. Al Gore would be so proud!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I’m still processing my time at the Glen Workshop. As I sat down to begin writing this 'blog entry, I realized that I’m not feeling very poetic right now. Perhaps I experienced too much of a good thing last week... in class, I was surrounded by all manner of poets: newbies, preachers (believe it or not – a priest, a minister and a rabbi), teachers, even published authors.

Right now, prose speaks to me. Since I’m not feeling poetic, I guess I’m feeling prosaic. Before using that term, I thought it might be a good idea to look it up online to discover its real meaning. I was surprised to find that one definition of prosaic is:

“Lacking in imagination and spirit; dull.”
YIKES!!! That’s enough to scare me back into my smoking jacket while scrambling to light my pipe as I sit at my secretary desk and begin scribing with my quill pen. (I'm not serious (or is that Sirius?))

But seriously, this does remind me of the discussion we had in class last week about the difference between poetry and prose. As I stopped to think about this during class, I found myself writing these words:

"All poetry should be transformative, both for the poet and the reader."
But later that same day, as I was scanning a local newspaper, I found this ad for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society:

“A dog is prose; a cat is a poem.” – Jean Burden
Maybe it’s just the DOG days of summer that have taken over the creative part of my brain.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Each summer, during the first week of August, Image Journal magazine sponsors the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As their website describes it:

"Classes (in writing and the visual arts) at The Glen are led by nationally known authors and artists. Small class sizes allow the faculty to give close attention to each participant— whether he or she is a beginner or well advanced in his or her craft. The Glen is also an illuminating conference on the relationship between art and religious faith, where participants practice and strengthen their craft and vision in community. "

Community is the single most important reason for my return to the Glen year after year. Whether being reunited with old friends or making new ones, the Glen provides me with an opportunity to share my vision of my faith and my creative skills with others who bring great spirituality and talents to the table.

On Sunday, July 29th, we began gathering at St. John’s College for a week of living in community with fellow artists. Each Glen has its own particular character, so as I sat at the Peterson Student Center coffee shop watching participants arrive, I tried to anticipate what this year’s Glen would look like:

Familiar faces, others who soon will be.
An air of anticipation, eager artists
gearing up for performance; energy
overflowing, kept in check by fear.

Fear of rejection, that same emotion
that drives us to create; that healing
balm that soothes those ancient wounds
and brings us closer to the One.

One who’d love us even if we never
wrote a word, painted a stroke, or
played a note on a piano; but One
who humbly smiles because we do.

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Monday, August 06, 2007


I have returned yet again from the desert. I’ve been blessed to have visited Santa Fe 5 times in the past 4 years. Each time, as I get off the plane in Albuquerque, pick up my rental car, and depart from the airport, the vista of mountains before me makes my heart sing.

The primary purpose of this visit was to attend the
Glen Workshop sponsored by Image Journal magazine, however, since it always begins right around the same time as the Spanish Market and Contemporary Hispanic Market, I make a point of arriving a little early.

This year, I made reservations to stay just off the central plaza at the bed and breakfast named
Dancing Ground of the Sun. The blessing of Santa Fe didn’t take long to arrive. As the front desk clerk handed me my room card, he announced, “You’ll be staying in the Storyteller Suite.”

Excited as I was by that development, I wanted to share this news with a friend and so I dug out my cell phone from my backpack and called my dear friend back in Chicago, Tim. He shared my wonder at this great good fortune and as we closed our phone conversation, Tim prompted me to “pay attention to what happens…”

Dinner time was drawing near and since I’d be eating alone, I decided to stop at
Collected Works bookstore to find some reading material to keep me company. As I strolled back to the religion and spirituality section, I scanned the shelves for an unread title. In fairly quick order, I found a book by a favorite author and peace activist, Father John Dear, titled "Transfiguration" .

I wanted a simple meal on this first night of my trip and so I found a nice little patio diner tucked into a corner on Water Street. It was called the Atomic Grill. As I ordered my pizza, I opened my book. This looks promising, I thought to myself, as I found a foreward written by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Before Father Dear’s introduction, I found a series of quotations selected by the author. The sources ranged from Scripture to Gospel, theologian Karl Rahner to Oscar Romero, wrapping up with the words of Henri Nouwen. As I looked closer at the quotation from Henri Nouwen, I couldn’t believe what I thought I saw. This was a brand new book, newly purchased and yet, one sentence of the Nouwen quotation was clearly underlined in pencil: “When we are attentive to the light within us and around us, we will gradually see more and more of that light and even become a light for others.” In short order, my friend Tim’s prophetic words came true. Yes…Santa Fe is a blessed place for me.

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