When you return from a long journey
air sweet with lilac and unfurled green
then you fall to your knees
and become gratitude’s pilgrim.
You were given the way at birth.
Given blue fields and loam.
Given an open throat, wild orchids,
a path lit by milky stars.
You were given desire,
sweet darkness of the body,
white hum in the bone.
It’s not the departure you long for,
nor the finish, with its thick incense,
tired feet and weeping.
It is the quiet loneliness in between.
When memory marries the wind
and you are pure light. Walking.
One foot in front of the other.
You cannot speak of this place.
The way you cannot speak of grace
or what holds you to this world.
How at this moment you can only stand up
and move toward the light of home.
– Rosemary Griebel –
In Monday’s post I mentioned meeting in person Calgary poet, Rosemary Griebel. All week, during my morning ritual of sitting with Annie sipping my americano (now laced with a half pump of eggnog syrup, tis the season and all), I’ve been re-reading her poetry collection YES. Last night I texted to her:
“Rosemary, it truly is a beautiful collection…so grounded in your intimate, lived experience of the prairies, one I came to know only a bit when my husband, Sig, and I moved here from ON in 1981 and when I learned to appreciate them accompanying him many weekends in the spring and late summer on field trials – horses with bird dogs like Annie, our English setter. The Pilgrim…yes, what an evocative and deeply resonant beauty…and the several I heard you recite on The Road Home, how I first learned of it, you. And some “hard” ones…all so beautifully, deftly composed. Hard but light filled…”
And so to share here one of hers with you, together with my photo walking one rainy day from Viana do Castelo to Vila Praia de Ancora along the Portuguese Coastal Camino. “A day of quiet loneliness in between. A day when memory marrie[d] the wind and [I felt like] pure light. Walking. One foot in front of the other.”
I’ve written several times of the lesson shared with me in 2011, when walking along the path, high on the cliffs of Italy’s Ligurian coast, from the Cinque Terre town of Vernazza to its Corniglia, with a couple who had walked the Camino Frances a year earlier: the Camino is what happens once home. After preparing for last week’s presentation on my walk; talking this week with a friend about curiosity, creativity, and wisdom for his podcast; and lunching with a friend who, having walked the Camino Frances several years ago, wanted to hear some of my story; once again I feel Camino making its presence known deep within as I prepare for my next writing project.
I feel myself hesitate. Find myself distracted. Yet I know it’s simply a matter of placing my stake in the ground, and saying YES. Then Camino begins once again to work with me.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.