The Camino de Santiago is a reminder that Life is a pilgrimage and we are all walking our individual paths, whether we are conscious of it or not.
But somehow a formalised event like the Camino – the Way of St James – brings everything into sharper focus and intensifies the experience, whatever shape or form that takes for us, be it a deeper spiritual awakening or simply quiet time out from normal routines.
The Camino has been likened to ‘a moving Findhorn’ and equally Findhorn could be described as a Camino, the outer and inner journey leading participants to exciting places they’ve never been before. It is totally absorbing, sometimes deeply challenging, often inspirational and always changing.
Each time I return I re-examine what exactly Findhorn means for me. Is it a spiritual community, a celebrated ecovillage, an international centre for holistic learning or simply a state of consciousness? The Findhorn experiment manages to be all these things as it goes about the business of inspiring and demonstrating new ways of living for a peaceful and sustainable world.
It is a place of transformation where residents and visitors alike are encouraged to foster profound personal change; seed new ideas and birth practical projects to meet the worldwide challenges and opportunities of our times. It was here in this open-hearted community that I resolved to walk the world with a message. And here that I reaffirm commitments to helping make a difference however I’m able.
My Camino experience in France and Spain was richly rewarding and I looked forward to sharing it with friends back at Findhorn, feeling my spirits soaring as I got closer. And Nature was putting on a show as only she can, a succession of perfect sunny autumn days holding out for my return and somehow compensating for a summer that failed to materialise this year in the north of Scotland.
Matching the beauty was the warm welcome from the gardening team; one describing a meditation in which he’d seen me stepping into a tree of light which spread its branches and roots until they entirely encircled the Earth. I loved that image of being one with the natural world and appreciate it’s something all Findhorn gardeners strive for.
Arriving at the offices of the Communications Department where I’ve spent much of my time in the community I was again enthusiastically greeted although I’d only been away a few weeks and had kept in touch with blogs and occasional emails. There is such generosity of spirit here!
Now I had the chance to integrate the Camino and Findhorn experiences and I was determined to maintain the magic and mystique of both, deciding that because the days are shortening dramatically (it’s dark before 5pm) I’d be outside extra early to celebrate the birth of each new day.
Setting off on my first morning a bright moon was there to light my way through the woods and to the beach; although Jupiter was now in a different part of the heavens and no longer pointing west, as it had done so helpfully in Spain. I was carrying my headtorch but didn’t need to flash it on to confirm the presence of yellow arrows or scallop shells pointing towards Santiago. I knew this way intimately.
Once a bat flitted past my head and moments later there was sudden heart-stopping moment when a deer exploded from the undergrowth alongside me – if it had remained motionless I’d never have known it was there!
My heartbeat gradually returned to normal as the moon led me to the water’s edge and I was soothed by the rhythm of the waves washing up onto the beach. When the tide is high it reaches all the way to a bed of pebbles at the base of the dunes and makes a most delightful sound, like an aboriginal rain-stick being inverted.
This is my favourite part of the day and I realise that it is especially important to savour every precious mild moment, knowing that the days are shortening as winter’s icy fingers fasten their grip on the land. The weeks ahead will be a time of reflection and renewal.
Hours earlier I had wakened unexpectedly and was conscious of the sound of the waves through my open window, somehow sensing that today would be memorable, although I had no idea how or why.
Then gazing out over the sea just before sunrise I had my answer: dolphins effortlessly surfed their way westwards, some only metres from the shore. I was mesmerised as never before had I been privileged to enjoy a sighting of the famous bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth that make up the most northerly population in the world.
Later I clicked on my computer to learn more about these amazing creatures and my home page automatically opened with Eileen Caddy’s daily guidance from her book Opening Doors Within (Findhorn Press). As always the message seemed particularly relevant:
As you expect the very best in life, you draw it to you; so start right now expecting the very best in everything and everyone, and watch the very best come about. Expect your every need to be met. Expect the answer to every problem. Expect abundance on every level.