Sunday, July 31, 2011

Today was a river day; 4.3 kilometers to kiss the buoy line at the Stewartville Dam and 4.3 back to the landing. I tried to do a steady stroke and only take a break at the buoy line. The sun was quite warm, hitting 30 degrees, little wind, and a lot of humidity. Small wonder that a thunderstorm warning has been in effect all day. The forecast was for foul weather in the afternoon only, so I was not as crazy as to head out into potential lightning.

The generators at the dam were not producing power and there was nothing coming out of the spillway so there was no current at the buoy line so the paddling was easy. I was glad that there were only a few power boats, mainly folks out fishing. The boats for the most part are mindful of paddlers and give you a bit of wave action to play with.

So where is the Camino reflection? I guess I still think of Jimmy, or as some like to call him, St. James. (I know that is not really Camino but his remains are supposedly squirreled away in that Cathedral so there is a connection) Anyway, Jimmy would have spent a lot of hours on the water. His paddling and rowing would not have been fun or recreation but work; hard, back aching, muscle stretching work, just to earn enough to survive. The tiny callous on my left hand, the slight ache in my back, are really nothing, but they are a window into Jimmy's World.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today was a low key Camino. Five of us met up at Galilee for a gentle walk; we walked around the main building , then through the Grove, then down to the river and then back to the main building. My numbers? Not even three kilometers! So why does that bother me?

Why does that bother me, indeed? I think that it is because I suffer, no that is a poor word to use, I choose to practice Shallow Spirituality. Shallow Spirituality is a numbers game: How nay times did you go to church last month? How long did you pray for? How long did you meditate? How many prayers do you know? How complete is your check list. How many Camino Kilometers did you do this week? 63! Thanks for asking.

So what did I learn? Or more correctly, what do I think I learned? In no particular order:

1 - I practice Shallow Spirituality
2 - I obsess about numbers
3 - The milkweeds have suddenly grown pods - fat pods.
4 - Colours are getting more vibrant as the summer matures.
5- Talking is good
6 - Listening is better
7 - Jesus picked Jimmy because they crossed paths
8 - Sweating is good.
9 - Self Mobility via walking, cycling, or paddling is a luxury and blessing beyond measure
10 - Thinking is easy, Doing is harder, Knowing is beyond me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today was another cycling day with that 20.7 km route. It was warm and muggy and I was quite the little sweating piglet. I do believe that pigs are minimal sweaters, so maybe the comparison is not apt. But I was sweaty.
And,I would imagine that during a Camino walk there is a lot of sweating. Jimmy and Jesus and the other apostles would have would have sweated a lot doing their work. So what does the fact that I sweated make me think?
Well, it is funny that for me sweating is something worth mentioning. I rode, at least according to my fitness level, quite aggressively ; I worked and my flabby little thighs were almost burning. That is unusual for me because I have a cushy job where I either sit or drive or talk or listen or stare at a computer screen and once in a while type. Elevating my body temperature, increasing my respiration rate or my heart rate, having even slightly sore muscles, feeling fatigue, and even getting a callous (from paddling) are all so rare and unusual that I give it special names: Working Out, Exercise, Fitness
Jimmy would have thought it crazy that I would go to the trouble of doing all this stuff, he would have thought that I had won some kind of lottery that I did not have to toil and yet I did it anyway and then was proud of myself. And he would have no idea what I did for a living.
So what do I have in common with Jimmy? Well we both had fathers so that hardly counts. He fished, I look at a computer screen. He sweated sunrise to sundown and thought nothing of it. I sweat so infrequently that I consider a big deal. Jimmy was handpicked by Jesus for a mission and Jimmy signed up on the spot with no idea of what was going to happen. What made him out the big OKAY without thought of what he was getting into? Did he just know? Is that our connection? Is that a lesson coming out of a week of numbers?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well today Camino was on the water - a 5 kilometer swish of the Madawaska in my kayak. The sun was still shining high in the sky when I hit the water at 5:30 in the afternoon.
I was greeted by 3 large barking dogs at my launch landing - the dogs were loud but friendly and their owners seemed pleasant enough. There was a light wind and the river had more power boats than usual so I had to be mindful of them. When I paddle I feel superior to the fishing boats and ski boats. I think it is just pride, ego, and love of self that motivates that in me. I am certainly not superior in care or action on the environment - so into this Camino Stew goes the pride, ego, and love of self - funny how I cannot control the ingredients.

The walk is Camino@Galilee so being on the water makes me think of the Sea of Galilee. I have never been there and of course with modern water usage that freshwater lake is under a lot of pressure. But what would have Jimmy thought of the lake? It was he home - he certainly lived by the Sea of Galilee. He would have paddled and sailed the lake. He would have fished the lake. He would have seen calms and storms. He would have seen whitecaps and rainbows. He would have felt liberated by the water and at times he would have thought that he is a prisoner of the water. All of this experience was exactly what Jesus wanted on the resume. So what lessons can I learn from the water?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today was Camino Cycling: 20.69 solo kilometres. It took about an hour and 6 minutes (did you catch that I was using the GPS) so my average speed was about 18.8 km per hour. But it of course not about speed. But it sort of is about speed. The Tour de France just finished and the average speed for the winner was 39.78 km per hour. That of course is for the whole thing; average for flats and the ups and downs. Near the end of my ride there is a bit of a downhill where I hit just over 40 km per hour. I go gaga when I hit that - it is as fast as I go. During a flat I can hit,for a few hundred metres a speed of 27 km per hour. That is a touch faster than the first Tour average speed in 1903. So it is about speed.

We are getting faster, the Tour is getting faster, the stats matter, the reading on the GPS matters, the top speed matters. But why? Why does the speed matter? If I could do this little route I have of 20.69 kilometres in less than an hour would that be good? Would it be better for my health? Would it be better for my heart? Would it be better for the Camino experience.

I have no answers, I am still tossing things in the stew pot and maybe will have a chance to think things out on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today I decided to walk 7 kilometers of Camino. I did it close to the house and it was sort of 4 out and 3 back - that is because my wife, drove by bearing iced coffee and I hopped on for a lift. And I had a nice chat with a neighbor with whom I have not really chatted with before now.

So what are my observations? Well, you likely meet more people walking than you do running, cycling, or kayaking. I had a very nice talk with my neighbor (well he lives a kilometer away) about high speed internet, the summer, mobile phone safety while driving, and jobs. He did not really know me before the talk but now he does and I know him a lot better. So you get to know people by a)taking your time, b) stopping to talk, c) stopping to listen, and d) making the effort to say hello. Valuable lessons that need to steep.

And a Wife Bearing Iced Coffee is a lesson that shows me that what I really need is really simple and close to home. I enjoyed the walk but was thankful for the ride and thankful for the refreshing beverage.

These lessons are in the pot and steeping.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today is the Feast of St James and some may say: "who gives a hoot?." Well St Jimmy takes care of milliners, pharmacists, sock makers, and pilgrims and that is good enough for me. I lose enough socks in the washing machine so I need sock makers and I am going on a pilgrimage. He also brings forth good weather and battles arthritis and rheumatism; he was before Tylenol.

St. James was the son of Zebedee and an apostle of Jesus. He was never a Big Gun apostle, and I cannot see Jesus of my understanding calling him James ; so he is St. Jimmy to me.

His relics are by tradition located in Santiago de Compostela,Spain and for a 1000 years people have done this journey of up to 750 kilometers. People I guess walked for penance, they walked for forgiveness, they walked for inspiration , they walked to walk. Well, one of my favorite spots on the planet, the Galilee Centre in Arnprior Ontario is doing a Virtual Camino Walk. It starts today on the Feast of St Jimmy and goes until Canadian Thanksgiving .

I did my first steps today. I was eager to move quickly and be at the front of the line to show off my ability but ended up at the back doing a slow walk and having an engaging conversation. My Personal Camino mediation is below : Funny how it is starting to come forth the first day.

My wish in this journey is to learn how to listen,
To heed the messages and signs from my body,
To hear the songs of the birds and of the insects,
To feel the heat of the sun and the cool of the wind,
To understand the silence of the stars and the moon,
But I really want to hear my Soul and Spirit,
And not have their message muted by Want and Desire,
As I step forth, I wish to learn how to listen.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

So , time to talk about investing the gift. If, through the grace of a power that is greater than myself I am alive and well, what do I do with the gift of life? The first thing that I am doing in enjoying life. I love my wife and I like being with her. In the mornings it is somehow my routine to make the coffee. I grind the beans, I make the coffee, and bring it to my wife.
I remember that, after getting my "adult" job a good 150 kilometers from my parent's house I would still visit an awful lot on weekends. My dad would, without fail make me morning coffee and deliver to my bedside. I was still a very young man, often recovering so to speak from a late Friday Night and the smell of the instant coffee next to my bedside was often not greeted with full enthusiasm by me. But something in my knew that of course the coffee would not last forever, that likely my father would leave the mortal world well before me and he did indeed die in 1990.
So it is with the coffee for my wife. The day will come when either I will not be there to make it, or she will not me there to receive it. But today I was able to make and give her coffee. It is a very, very, small payback but it helps me start the day.
I try to leave each day doing the right stuff for me, a sort of personal investment. I take my drugs: The morning is a baby aspirin, a beta blocker, a calcium blocker, a fish oil pill, a multivitamin, and a hit of extra fibre. At night it is another beta blocker, a statin and more fibre.
Then there is the food. I have a few things that I have done well. I love Frito Lay Ruffles but I only eat them on Christmas Eve. I have not taken up smoking or drinking. I have cut down drastically on my consumption of diet soda pop. I eat no more that two eggs a week. I never (well almost never) add salt at the table. But ice cream (soft cones) have entered my life a bit more than the summer heat should allow. I am getting careless on portion size. But I am trying to me mindful.

I try to move 30 minutes a day over and above what I have to do. Jogging, cycling, padding, and walking are what I do. Doggie walking does not count in the equation. The heat is making me lazy but each step, each stroke is an investment

More to come .....