The Pilgrim Way

I would wake up each morning, throw open the shutters and see Sao Antao looming must cloaked . . .

. . . it was hard sometimes, that yearning – and I had to be all that much more thankful, I could see, I was awake!

Finally I got to near enough to the end of a busy day, in the garden of the Si Ma Bo hostel – a fragile haven amongst the busy hustle of this city. It had been rather hard to focus on the theme of Samhain / the feast of the All Saints that was upon the city. Worldly work, yet thankfully, creative work, called me. Also, a critical decision was seeking an answer.

Later, much later, this little extract, from my prayer quietly called out and asked for my attention.

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‘ A Celtic Devotional ‘- Caitlin Matthews

It seems, this time, I am not to make it over, to the emerald green north coast of Sao Antao – and it’s many small gardens, by simple houses and abundant terraces. It was just two days, in the central island, a few weeks ago, not nearly enough time.

It’s all about scarce resources, people and finance – at least in the more obvious way. There is a factory, on the dusty edge of this city. There the dogs, many, that wait, daily, hourly for the basic dignity of contact, cleaning, care and a walk.

Could it be, the answer I came to seek, the place, the garden is not to be revealed, directly, this time by extensive physical exploration? Could it rest, somewhere in the shade on a hot day, when I sit with a dog? Will it come in stillness, when all other energies are spent? Perhaps, something gifted to this pilgrim, mutely but expressively, through the gaze of a dog, in a still factory that is not utterly abandoned?

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‘ Menin da Rua ‘ – simabo.org – photograph Jonathan O’Farrell

It only seems so, abandoned, to those that cannot see inside as they rush past, on the way to the airport. Soon enough I too will make my way to the airport, past that factory of dogs and then will see Mindelo – and Sao Antao pass quickly before my own eyes – rushing through the air. I will not hear the barking then; at least not with my ears. That will be hard, that sight of that island, after all this time, all this way.

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Those of you going on your own pilgrim way, with it’s twists of fate, questions at critical points which way to go and many seemingly insurmountable obstacles, have my prayers, for your way too. Go well, go on your path, of truth and – eventual – revelation.

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