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 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 –
Last week, listening to a past episode of The Road Home on my radio station CKUA, I heard my friend Rosemary recite three of her poems from this collection, YES. Her lovely voice, together with the background music selected by host Bob Chelmick made for several minutes of exquisite listening pleasure. I first met Rosemary virtually, and then in person when we both attended last November’s weekend workshop with our beloved Irish poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama. Knowing I’d see her, I brought my copy of her book for her to sign. It was there I learned how we are kin, not only in our shared love of words, but also in our both having walked the Camino de Santiago. It occurred to me while listening to Rosemary read last week, that I needed to feature here, in my Friday photo and poem post, some of the local poets whose love of words I share, to uplift those “prophets in my own land,” so to speak.
I’ve written here how the Camino does its work; on me, from the moment I made my decision and deposit a year ago December to walk, but more so upon my return. This past December I took some time to make the photo journal of my walk. Too, I wrote a short story, A Creative Walks the Portuguese Coastal Camino, drawing on my Camino blog posts, for both the Canadian Company of Pilgrims and Sage-ing: The Journal of Creative Aging. And I had the lovely opportunity to talk about my walk and its impacts, both to support a fellow doing his Master degree in Tourism, exploring the transformative gifts walking a non religious Camino, and on the Ellipsis Thinking podcast, “Paying Attention,” hosted by my dear friend, Greg Dowler-Coltman.
Rosemary’s poem speaks to me of so much that was my Camino. That in the planning, the going and the return, I was “gratitude’s pilgrim”… how the “quiet loneliness” while walking became my necessary and bittersweet companion… my “tired feet and weeping” with relief at our safe arrival…and since home, remembering the light, the grace, the beauty. Thank you, Rosemary.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.