|Posted by Rev. Meredith Ann Murray on October 1, 2012 at 12:55 AM|
Several people lately have suggested that I start a Blog. So, here I go…along with a million other bloggers. To quote a phrase I learned in my 8 years in Al-Anon, a 12-Step Recovery Program for families and friends of Alcoholics, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” It is doubtful that everything I talk about here will resonate with you, but I do hope that some of my thoughts contribute to your growth, to the raising of consciousness and to more Peace in theworld. Thanks for reading!
Over the last year, I have done a LOT of traveling. All have been Spiritual Pilgrimages of sorts. In this initial entry I will recount the first trip in September 2011 when I spent 5 weeks in Europe. The first week I spent in Southern Spain with one of my fellow Peace Ministers from Finland, Raija. We stayed in Nerja, Spain on the Costa delSol where my mother and her husband had a home for 25 years and spent every winter (thus escaping the snow in New Hampshire where they had lived since the 1960’s.) I went to Nerja to scatter my mom’s ashes on the hill behind their home where they loved to hike every morning (and did so until they were in their late 70’s.) Mom died on Sept. 19, 2010 at the age of 88 from Alzheimer’s. Her husband predeceased her by a few yearswhen he was 80. I spent many happy times with them at their home in Nerja -- it was bittersweet to return after so many years. I am grateful that I did, though,and that Raija was able to join me -- for the emotional support she gave me and for the fun we have being together. We enjoyed time on the mile-long Burriana Beach in Nerja, wandering through the twisting, narrow streets of the Moorish hill town of Frigiliana, eating dinner after 10 pm in the outdoor cafés, and a day trip to the beautiful and historic Alhambra in Granada. Raija and I had previously traveled together in S. France in 2007 visiting many sacred sites connected with St. Mary Magdalene. We are great traveling companions and close friends!
From Southern Spain I traveled to Southern Italy for a week with another fellow minister from my seminary, Karen, from Ashland, Oregon. It was great fun to return to my old haunts in and around Naples, Capri, Positano, the Amalfi Drive, and Ravello. I had lived there for 6 months in the early ‘80’s and had traveled there on numerous other occasions with my then husband, Herb,the father of my son Christopher. During Herb’s 36 year career as a U.S. Naval Officer, he had two tours of duty in Naples with NATO and his sister married a Neapolitan, so we had many friends and family there to visit and socialize with. I absolutely adored all of our time there and am so grateful I was able to return and share it with Karen. It was an added blessing to get better acquainted with Karen as well.
Next, Karen and I met up with James Twyman (the author, movie maker, and Peace Troubadour who founded my Interfaith Seminary of Spiritual Peacemaking) and 37 other people from all over the world to walk for Peace across Umbria and Tuscany for 10 days. We began by spending the first 3 nights in La Verna, Italy at a monastery where St. Francis of Assisi used to go on retreat and where he got his stigmata. It is a very magical, holy and beautiful place which is still used as a monastery these 800+ years later. The hike was an extremely challenging one over the next 10 days through the gorgeous hills, forests and fields of the region on trails and dirt roads. The first day one of our Peace Walkers fell and broke her arm and on Day 3 a fellow pilgrim fell and broke her leg! After those mishaps, we made it to Assisi with no further injuries other than some blisters and sore muscles. Sometimes we had to stay in 2 - 3 small hotels as the towns were not large enough to have one hotel that could accommodate all of us. It was quite an adventure! Forty was a better number than the 67 walkers we had on the first Peace Walk that I took with James Twyman in 2005 from Assisi to Rome over 10 days – that was like herding cats! It was way too large of a group for this sort of pilgrimage.
Every morning after having breakfast, checking out, and getting our bags onto the bus, we would gather at the appointed time for our hike to begin and form a circle. James would then lead us in reciting the “Sacred Office Of Peace,” a shortened version of the Peace Prayers of the 12 major world religions. These prayers were brought to the first Interfaith Peace Conference called by Pope John Paul in 1986 in Assisi, Italy by each of the leaders of those religions. Here is the medium length version of those prayers: http://www.belovedworld.org/tpm_pop.html ;
Some days were longer than others, but most days involved 4 - 6 hours of strenuous walking. Since having a full knee replacement in 2008, I was only able to walk for 2-3 hours per day before I needed to stop. Our two Italian women guides, Patrizia and Marisa, were very accommodating about having someone pick me up using their car and taking me to the hotel in the next town for a rest.
James Twyman made a feature length film about our 2011 walk and the Peace Concert that he performed in Assisi which you can watch here: http://vimeo.com/user11205791/review/40019430/0e68714778 ;
Photo of me as we reached the outskirts of Assisi: