Vox Peregrini Day Two, Shilaleagh to Moyne

Day Two of Vox Peregrini - Shilaleagh to Moyne

The walk from Shilaleagh to Kyle's Farm house in Moyne is 14 miles. We are walking the Wicklow Way from south to north, towards Dublin. I've walked the Way three previous times from Dublin to the south. This new perspective has already revealed some fresh insights. What was the final day of the Wicklow Way was now the first, the we walked yesterday. I had not realized how mundane that stretch was—it was always the last day and I simply wanted to finish. I have realized because I simply wanted to finish, I couldn't remember anything about the trail now. That's the reason I missed the pickup point yesterday. This became so clear to me on day two of the walk. I could remember all the landmarks, though walking in the opposite direction, much of the walk felt so familiar. Except for one point.

At the halfway point of the walk, instead of the yellow marker of the Wicklow Way, there was a red marker. There was a sign marking a Loop Trail. We decided to stop there for lunch. It was noon. And I wanted to check my maps carefully, especially after missing our pick up point yesterday. I did not want to make a mistake today. The red arrow was marking a starting point for a local loop trail with a sign and a large map detailing the trail. Using my map and the help of two of our pilgrims, we determined, between the three of us, with some certainty that we should not take the loop trail, which was tempting, but continue on the more mundane trail we were walking. The group had lunch and rehearsed some music. I nervously searched up the loop trail and the trail we were on for a familiar yellow Wicklow marker. I couldn't one.

So we set on our road we had been walking. I took the lead with one of my trusted pilgrims who knows how to read maps much better than I - he is an Eagle Scout. A half mile down the road, my anxiety was relieved. There was a yellow hiking man. I couldn't help myself, I stopped and kissed that marker.

The loop arrow and sign had been there before the last time I walked the way, just walking the opposite direction I hadn't seen it. Had I been walking alone today I may have made the wrong decision. My fellow pilgrims brought their skills and confidence to the moment. Yeah for the Eagle Scouts! Thank you Richard.

The great joy of the day was when we left the mundane trail and walked for seven miles through the rolling sheep land of this region. The trail took us through the tree lined boreans, up over the side of the mountains where the sheep roam. There we had a glorious view of the farmlands below and the bald mountain above. This was our groups first look at the beauty of the Irish farming region. Their excitement brought a renewed energy to my step.

Later in the afternoon, near the end of walk, heading into a very wooded and dark section of the trail, John, the music director, chose an off the trail place within the woods for the group to rehearse. There, against an abandoned wall of green moss covered stones, they sang the song of Healing Light. The stones and the trees joined the choir. The dark forest glowed with a warm light. At the end of the final piece, the world sat in silence for a minute, listening to the vibrations of communion of all the divine's creation. I felt a positive energy. And as our group got back on the trail, I noticed some healing had taken place. Steps were stronger, spirits were higher, more laughter rose from their souls.

Vox Peregrini has nestled themselves into the hands of Mother Earth and sang their prayers for healing. Creation added their voice and a new harmony was created, a healing harmony.

-- The Rev. Dr. Gil Stafford Canon Theologian Episcopal Diocese of Arizona Assistant to the Rector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Litchfield Park, AZ 2wisdomsway.com 4peregriniblogspot.com

"It is I who ask, was the pilgrimage I made to come to my own self, to learn that, in times like these, and for one like me, God will never be plain and not there, but dark rather, and inexplicable, as though God were in here?"

People need wild places.  Whether or not we think we do, we do.  We need to be able to taste grace and know again that we desire it.  We need to experience a landscape that is timeless, whose agenda moves at the pace of speciation and glaciers.  To be surrounded by a singing, mating, howling commotion of other species, all of which love their lives as much as we do ours, and none of which could possibly care less about us in our place.  It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd.        BARBARA KINGSOLVER, Small Wonder