You don't choose a life, you live one

POST BY Ruth

Tony, the blog writer, taking a break on his back at the side of the road
Tony, the blog writer, takes a well earned break

Continuing the blog from the intrepid Camino walkers from Farm Street Church in aid of Syrian refugees.

To all those of you who are heartily sick of hearing me complain about my blisters I have a very special treat in store for you. The heat yesterday was so intense that my backpack - coupled with my own sweat took a couple of layers of skin off of my back. Andrea has just very kindly slathered me in miraculous cream so I write to you this afternoon lying on my front in my hotel-bed, slippery as a kipper. There, I hope I've varied the diet of ailments for you; when I come down with Catalan ague you'll be the first to know. But I'm not complaining - we're resolute in Hampshire and we crack on! In point of fact only Fr Dominic has been left unscathed on this walk (apart from a tiny bit of sunburn on the first day). He really is indistructable - right up there with Shadarach, Meschach and Abednego, the brothers who wouldn't burn, add the name of Dominic Robinson SJ.

No one told us that you can see the mountains of Montserrat from Manresa, it's amazing to look at them and think that yesterday we walked that whole distance through gruelling heat and survived to tell you the tale. Actually if it wasn't for the support and encouragement of my dear friend Sandra McNally I might not have made it. I often joke that Sandra has a "terrible resolution" but when you're feeling like you've had enough - she's the one you want around. Sandra said to me after I wrote the first blog entry "I hope you write something nice about me too!", but honestly she has no need of praise from me - nothing that I can ever write would do justice to her sheer spirit and her natural disposition towards compassion and kindness (although she did refuse to carry me).

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ says mass in the cave chapel at ManresaThis morning Fr Dominic celebrated Mass in the cave-chapel where Saint Ignatius received the revelation that became his famous Spiritual Exercises. These exercises are the very foundation of Jesuit spirituality and so this really was a most moving moment - particularly for Dominic. It's humbling to think of all those Jesuits who have over the years been murdered, incarcerated and tortured for their belief in a world dominated by the twin precepts of compassion and mercy. They all realise that they may be put in harm's way yet still they go to the forgotten and dangerous parts of the world to provide relief in the form of food, water and the message of love to all peoples. The money that you donate here is going to those people in Syria who are suffering under the twin yokes of brutality and inhumanity - regardless of their religion. Every penny will be spent on that project - the Jesuits take absolutely nothing for themselves - they are not paid, they take a universal vow of poverty when they commit themselves to the lived mission of their vocation. We have all paid for this pilgrimage out of our own pockets - we take nothing for ourselves except our friendship and the many moments of closeness and laughter along the way - believe me that humour has been all-important. It has also been so wonderful to have our dear readers as companions along that road, fellow-travellers - we love reading your comments and just knowing that you're out there somewhere following our progress. Please feel free to publicise this blog to your friends and families - not just for the money but also for the joy of companionship.

We we all wanted to say today how desperately sorry we are to hear about the loss of the aircraft shot down over Ukrainian air-space. How someone could do such a thing I simply cannot imagine, the loss of nearly three hundred lives is just mind-blowing. So let's refuse at every opportunity to let the forces of malignancy and inhumanity infect our world with their vile hatreds. Dear readers we join hands with you and hope that the spirit of love and friendship expressed in this blog will prevail in Syria, in the Ukraine, in Israel and Palestine and everywhere that compassion and mercy have been forgotten. In unity always.

Tony

AMDG

Taken from the blog of the entrepid walkers, Camino Ignaciano 2014