{February 21, 2021}   Signs and Wonders

During my morning walk on Beach Road in Capistrano Beach today, I was surprised when a baby sea lion appeared from out of the rocks a few yards in front of me. I paused, fearful of scaring it, and stood watching as it made its way slowly from the safety of the rocks to the water’s edge. I looked around for its mother, but it appeared to be alone. I fully expected it to keep going out into the ocean, but it paused there, cocking its head to one side and meeting me eye-to-eye. As we stood silently mesmirized, studying one another, I attempted a closer approach, but the pup was skitish and reacted fearfully. Contented with just enjoying the moment, I eventually abandoned the stand-off and continued my walk. Upon my return trek, the pup was gone.

Always interested in spirituality, myths, signs and omens, I came home and looked up the symbolism attributed to the sighting of sea lions, seals and other water creatures. As a writer, what I found was very interesting.

According to myths and legend a sea lion/seal sighting is an indication that one should pay close attention to one’s imagination and insights, to be aware of thoughts and dreams and to allow creativity and imagination to soar. Further … water as a symbol is a universal expression of the unconscious, and when these creatures find their way into one’s life they need to be honored. By being open, water animal totems can teach one the ways of simpler, more positive paths of thought, and remind us to live with unbridled freedom, as if we have no limits.

Whether in the realm of one’s beliefs or not …. it certainly gives one food for thought.

{July 31, 2020}   Chit Chat

The Pandemic for Me

The best of times and the worst of times

 A time for everything

To pray and reflect

To read and relax

To walk and be silent

To listen and hear

To wonder at nature

To plant a new garden

 To chat with my neighbors

To text with my friends

To treasure my family

To learn how to Zoom

To yearn for embraces

To mourn for the losses

To search for the reasons

To question and wonder

To grieve the destruction

To fear for the future

But never give up

the hope to recover

{January 13, 2020}   RETIREMENT

American writer Anne Lamott has said, “almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes.”

After working for almost 25 years at a job I absolutely loved among people who have become my family, I have reluctantly decided to unplug for a while.

For a, first-born, type A personality like me, that is an extremely difficult thing to do. But unlike Webster who defines retirement as withdrawal … withdrawal into privacy and seclusion … that is the last thing I plan to do with whatever time I have left on this earth.

My personal definition of retirement is freedom … freedom from responsibilities. Frankly, I never thought I would live so long, and knowing that I have been gifted with good physical and mental health in my elder years, I plan to take advantage of that freedom and to … “make hay while the sun shines,” … as my dear mother would say.

The question that always seems to be asked when someone retires is, “what’s next?” For now, I plan to just unplug for a while, and to take the advice of scripture to, “be still, and to speak less and listen much.”

Where I go from here, only God knows and I await whatever comes with baited breath.

{February 6, 2018}   A Walk to Remember

Last year, two months shy of my 83rd birthday, I signed up to walk the last 112 kms (60 -65 miles) of the El Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) with one of my sons. After signing up and paying my non-refundable deposit I must admit I began asking myself … “what was I thinking?”

This is a walk well-known as a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage. It is a road said to have been walked and evangelized by St. James the Elder – one of Jesus’s apostles – and travelers come from all over the world to make the journey.

Its most common route begins at St. Jean Pied de Port, France and travels 500 kms through four of Spain’s 15 regions ending at the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The entire journey takes about 30-35 days, but shorter portions of the walk have become more popular with modern day sojourners.

Thankfully for our walk my son had insisted on purchasing walking sticks; for while we had anticipated a long, tedious walk on a somewhat level roadway, we soon found ourselves hiking up and down steep hills, and treading upon dirt, gravel, rock, asphalt and slate surfaces.

As we began I told myself I would be happy if I walked six miles a day, but I surprised myself when at the end of the day I had walked ten. It was one of the most challenging things I have done in life thus far, and if time permitted I think I might even attempt completing the entire 500 kms.

The portion we walked from Sarria in Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela took us through picturesque forests, farmlands and villages, and into small towns. We crossed highways, bridges and streams, encountering breathtaking views, some extending to the Atlantic Ocean. We met villagers and peoples from all over the world; exchanging the customary greeting of “Buen Camino” (good walk or good way) along the way. We wore shells to commemorate our journey, the shell being the symbol of St. James, indicating – not only the many roads that lead to Compostela – but representing the two layers of the human condition, the physical and the spiritual.

Symbols of and for the walk dotted the roadways and included stone markers painted with yellow arrows pointing the way; milestones indicating area covered and miles to go; and crosses, mounds of stones and personal items left roadside by pilgrims as testament to their journey. It was more an experience than a vacation, one that left an indelible mark on our lives.

Upon entering the main plaza in Santiago de Compostela at journey’s end, we were greeted with the music of bagpipes and cheers. Everyone was singing, hugging and high-fiving, expressing joy and relief for having completed an arduous but rewarding journey.  We then took the Credencial del Peregrino (Pilgrim Credential) we had carried and had stamped at various places along the way (churches, inns, shops and restaurants) to the Pilgrim Office in the plaza for the final stamp. Finished, we took photos; passports held high overhead and toes planted on the zero mile marker embedded in the tiles there.

It was a fitting end to a memorable experience that will never be forgotten.


et cetera