Posts Tagged ‘The Pilgrimage’

Paulo Coelho: El Camino de Santiago

January 14, 2014

Paulo Coelho discussing walking El Camino de Santiago.

His experience of walking The Way he recorded in The Pilgrimage and it led to the writing of The Alchemist.

Follow your dreams, unfortunately most don’t, they don’t take the risk, then they bemoan the good luck of others, even worse, they do their best to stop others from following their dreams.

Worth their weight in gold

April 14, 2013
Paulo Coelho three books

Paulo Coelho three books

Three books from acclaimed Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho.

Special anniversary edition of The Pilgrimage, a collectors edition.

The Pilgrimage is an account of walking The Way of St James or as it is known El Camino de Santiago.

When Paulo Coleho walked the route in the mid-1989s, few pilgrims walked the route. At a bar, halfway along the route, as many passed in a year, as today pass in an hour.

Special 25th anniversary edition of The Alchemist, a collectors edition.

When walking El Camino de Santiago and finally reaching ones destination, one has to give something back. For Paulo Coelho it was The Alchemist, the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy Santiago, of his search for treasure, of following his dreams.

Recently published Manuscript Found in Accra.

A manuscript is found in Accra. It tells the story of the eve of the Crusaders attacking Jerusalem. The style is very much that of Kahlil Gibran The Prophet and Jesus the Son of Man.

The Pilgrimage 25th Anniversary Edition

December 1, 2012
The Pilgrimage 25th Anniversary Edition

The Pilgrimage 25th Anniversary Edition

I was not aware there was a special 25th anniversary edition of The Pilgrimage (2012) with a special introduction by Paulo Coelho until I spotted one on display in Waterstone’s in Farnham today on a cold winter afternoon.

Most people think The Alchemist was the first book written by Paulo Coelho. It wasn’t, the first was The Pilgrimage.

It was walking El Camino de Santiago that inspired Paulo Coelho to write The Alchemist.

Many of his early books have their origins somewhere along El Camino de Santiago.

When he walked El Camino de Santiago, it had fallen into disuse, maybe 400 pilgrims a year. Since publication of the Pilgrimage, the numbers have risen exponentially, with peaks in Holy Years, such that by 2005 there were 400 a day passing a bar on the halfway point.

El Camino de Santiago is medieval pilgrim’s route that runs along northern Spain. The destination is Santiago de Compostela where lies the remains of Apostle James the Greater, St James.

Reflection on The Nail at St Mark’s

April 4, 2012
reflection on a wooden cross of nails

reflection on a wooden cross of nails

single lit candle

single lit candle

The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho

I was at St Mark’s this evening for two reasons:

  • service of devotional reflection on the nail
  • mark Paulo Coelho eight million friends on facebook

You will not find service of nails in a liturgical calender, at least I do not think so, I am no expert on church dates.

For the last few weeks, St Mark’s has been running a book club on The Nail. This evening was a service of reflection and meditation.

How would you have acted if you were one of the following:

  • Peter (who denied)
  • the soldiers (who were only following orders)
  • Pontius Pilate (Roman provincial governor who washed his hands of the whole affair)
  • Caiaphas (High Priest who wished to maintain his status)
  • Judas (who betrayed)
  • the disciples (who ran away and hid)
  • the criminals (who hung on crosses alongside)
  • the crowd (who bayed for blood)

The one group who were not mentioned were the women. The women did not run away and hide, did not deny, did not betray. The women remained with Jesus until the end.

We were asked to each hold a nail, to imagine how we would react?

Would we have driven in the nails if ordered to do so, bayed for blood, run away or denied we knew Jesus, or would we have stood up and challenged what was taking place? Would we have followed religious doctrine and dogma, or would we have listened to our heart?

How we would behave we do not know until we are in a situation.

Last year I had someone try to kill me. I am lucky to be alive.

I would probably speak out, and then be hung on the cross.

How many people reflect on their own lifestyle, the impact it has on those around them?

Do we ask where our food comes from, our clothes? How is it grown, produced?

Slow fashion v fast fashion.

Faded washed out jeans, literally killer jeans. Do we ask of those who are killed to produce the faded jeans, especially when we can get the same look through hard work, not throwing our clothes away every few months, or simply buying second hand jeans?

I resisted the temptation to dig the nail into my hand to focus on the pain, a technique Paulo Coelho describes in The Pilgrimage.

We were also asked to focus on a cross of nails on the floor in front of us. The lit candle represented light, hope, at a time of darkness.

For a future run up to Easter I would suggest ‘I Thirst’.

On Sunday, Paulo Coelho exceeded eight million friends on facebook. By common consensus it was agreed to have 24 hours of prayer and acts of random kindness.

The prayer was at 6pm local time today. I was later than 6pm, but then I do not determine the opening times of St Mark’s

I lit a candle for Canon Andrew White (for his work in Iraq), for Paulo Coelho (thanks for his writing and the wonderful St Joseph’s Day party at which I was his guest last month), Mio Baba (for a wonderful three days together in Bassano del Grappa).

I donated to the church library The Pilgrimage.

A celebration of Holy Week at St Mark’s by the children
Maundy Thursday
The Cross
Mary’s thoughts on her way to Calvary

Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Castello Superiore di Marostica

March 21, 2012
Venetian soldiers with flaming swords

Venetian soldiers with flaming swords

Hosted by Montegrappa, Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party was held at a medieval Venetian Castle, Castello Superiore di Marostica.

Following the launch of The Alchemist pen in the afternoon, followed by a tour of the Montegrappa facilty in Bassano del Grappa, a party was held in the evening to mark St Joseph’s day.

The party was held at a medieval Venetian Castle some half an hour drive outside of Bassano del Grappa.

On arrival, after passing through a road block checking for unwanted gatecrashers, we were met on arrival by Venetian soldiers holding flaming torches.

Some sort of pageant was taking place. Food and drink was served outside, though it was a cold night.

We were then ushered indoors where a guitar of Rudolf Schenker (lead guitarist and founder of German rock group Scorpions) was being painted by Christina.

Then we were ushered upstairs, where tables were laid for dinner.

Paulo Coelho explained why he celebrates St Joseph’s Day with his friends. He said this was a very special party as it was a Silver Anniversary, ie 25 years. It was also a Silver Anniversary of the publication of The Pilgrimage.

Paulo Coelho was born dead, strangled by his umbilical cord. His mother prayed for a miracle, that life be breathed into his dead body. He recovered. She promised she would mark St Joseph’s day, but never did. God is forgiving. God is not the God of hate, who damns us for all eternity, that Francis Chan portrays in his evil book Erasing Hell.

Paulo now marks St Joseph’s Day to give thanks for his good fortune.

Wine is mentioned several times in the Bible. All but one involves Joseph.

As always, the dinner started with prayers. First Paulo in Portuguese, then many languages, including German (The Abbot of Melk Abbey) and Japanese (Yumi Crane).

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity.

Yumi Crane spoke of the Tsunami. It was one year, one week, one day. It was very moving. She was in tears. Mio, with who I was holding hands, was in tears. I was in tears.

The Narrow Road to the Disaster Zone
Songs From Tokyo

For Mio, it was a dream come true to meet Paulo Coelho.

A Japanese girl’s dream come true

There were many courses, several were on the table when we sat down. I had no idea what most of them were. There was long gaps of half an hour between courses, which gave people plenty of time to wander around and chat to people at other tables, exchange gifts.

I gave Paulo Coelho Fusiones, signed by all members of the group Ensamble Dos Orrillas, who I had seen live at an excellent concert a couple of weeks before in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. A fusion of music from South America and the Canary Isands. I am only sorry I did not get the opportunity to take a picture of Paulo Coelho with the signed album. Hopefully this album will be available for download from bandcamp in the near future.

On the tables was also a special gift from Paulo. A bottle of perfume, The Alchemist. I assume specially commissioned for the occasion.

Many people came up to me and chatted who I had no idea who they were but for some reason they knew who I was.

One was Dasha Balashova, a remarkable Russian artist, who I learnt is now living in France in or near the Pyrenees. I have Dasha to thank for my original contact with Paulo Coelho. Until the night of the party we had never met.

A firework display!

Presents for Paulo: A silver tray to mark 25th anniversary of The Pilgrimage, a special chair to sit at when he writes.

Ken Crane was called. Where was Ken when needed? As a special gift Ken had brought five pairs of boxer shorts with his graphics and quotes from Paulo Coelho. Paulo handed these out to named individuals.

A few minutes before midnight Paulo Coelho announced eating was over, it was time to go downstairs and dance.

In the early hours of the morning we were treated to Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho (on guitar and vocals) performing Rock Like a Hurricane, Still Loving You, and maybe a couple of other numbers. It was unbelievable. I do not think the group who were playing could believe their luck playing with Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho. For Time they were joined on vocals by Rudolf Schenker’s girlfriend Tanya.

Paulo Coelho e Rudolf Schenker

Sometime in the early hours, Christina and I were dancing centre stage.

Then book signing.

On the edge of the light I noticed armed guards!

All good parties eventually have to come to an end.

We finally got back to our hotel at 3-30am in the early hours of the morning!

Many thanks to Paulo for the invite and putting on such a great party and to Montegrappa for generously hosting the party and for providing the transport there and back.

Paulo Coelho has posted a shorter version on his blog.

The Way – El Camino de Santiago

December 11, 2010

El Camino de Santiago is an ancient medieval pilgrimage that had fallen into disuse until Paulo Coelho wrote of his experience of walking The Way in The Pilgrimage.

Also see

The History of the Pilgrimage to Compostela

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela today

Thoughts on El Camino de Santiago

November 23, 2010

A series of thoughts on El Camino de Santiago. A medieval pilgrimage that at its height saw a million pilgrims a year. It fell into disuse until popularised by Paulo Coelho with the publication in the mid-1980s of his account in The Pilgrimage.

Also see

The History of the Pilgrimage to Compostela

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela today

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela today

July 14, 2010
poster at St Nicolas

poster at St Nicolas

‘These travellers were called pilgrims, and their symbol was the scallop shell.’ — Paulo Coelho

‘I looked up at the sky; the Milky Way spread across it, reflecting the immensity of the Road we would have to travel.’ — Paulo Coelho

‘We will come back changed. Of that I am certain. But, of course that is why you go on pilgrimage in the first place; to find the holy, stumble upon God in action, and be changed for ever by the experience.’ — Canon Trevor Dennis

Last week when Dr Catherine Ferguson talked of the history of the pilgrimage she showed a graph showing how the numbers of pilgrims had grown exponentially since the mid-1980s, a growth that coincided with the publication of The Pilgrimage by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. This week Catherine was to talk about the pilgrimage today and the modern day pilgrim, herself being one of the pilgrims having just returned from walking part of the walk.

Her talk was split into two halves, the first the practicalities of actually walking the route, the second what it meant to be a pilgrim.

Catherine made a grand entrance, dressed as she would be walking the route with her rucksack on her back. She then proceeded to empty her rucksack explaining what each item was for.

She managed to travel surprising light. A single change of clothing, water, minimalist medical kit, a banana (essential as you never knew when you would find food), water, books (the heaviest items), toilet paper (essential), torch, journal, camera, phone, charger for both, change of shoes, sleeping bag.

On her rucksack she had a scallop shell. The sign she was a pilgrim.

For the pilgrim it is not a rucksack or back pack, it is a mochillo, in which you carry your life’s possessions.

The medieval pilgrim would have wore a cape and a hat and carried a stick. Paulo Coelho provides an excellent description in The Pilgrimage, his journal of walking the Way of St James.

Every pilgrim has his credencial. This is essential as it is stamped en route and is required as proof that you have actually walked the route.

To obtain the compostela, you have to have walked the last 100km (or cycled the last 200km). This means the statistics on who has walked the route are not that sound, as they only count those who are awarded a compostela, those who walk that final 100km. Many walk different parts of the route, many do not make claim for the compostela.

way marker

way marker

The route is waymarked with yellow arrows and scallop shells. Though not always easy to find!

Don Elias Valiña Sampedro, a priest at O Cebreiro, did his 1967 Doctoral Thesis on the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Then it was but a memory he wrote ‘there survives only a remote memory of the Jacobean pilgrimage.’ He wrote and published a book on the route, Caminos a Compostela (1971). In 1972 just six pilgrims were awarded their compostela. Caminos a Compostela did not therefore have a major impact! It was then he decided, with the help of his family, to mark the route with yellow arrows. The route though you follow is your own personal route. This he started to do in 1973. He died in 1989.

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho was published in Portuguese in 1987. An estimated in excess of 200,000 pilgrims are expected to walk the route in 2010, a Holy or Jubilee year when 25 July falls on a Sunday.

Places to stay are mixed and varied. Barns, churches private houses, monasteries, bars, church towers. Most of the places are fairly basic.

You are only allowed to stay one night, then you have to move on. This very much forces one to live in the here and now, for the moment, as how ever much you are enjoying it, it is not to be repeated, you have to move on.

Very much as Youth Hosteling used to be like up until the mid-1980s, when the YHA degenerated into a cheap chain of doss houses. You collected your hostel stamps at each hostel you stayed at, you had to arrive under your own steam, and could only stay a maximum of three nights.

When on a pilgrimage your requirements become very minimal: where will I sleep, find shelter, food and water? This is good for the soul. It reminds us how most of the world who subsist on less than a dollar a day have to survive.

You very quickly shed your socio-economic status. You are a lonely pilgrim on a route. What you see is what you get.

Eivind Luthen:

Liminality: to be a pilgrim is to opt out of one society and join another. To be a pilgrim is to tear away from the standard way of thinking. As a pilgrim you aim towards the unknown. In an age stamped by individualism and self-assertion the pilgrim dares towards humility: there is no class distinction on the way. People will take you for what you are, not what you represent.’

Why do we go on a pilgrimage? Ask a pilgrim and you are unlikely to get a straight answer.

The reasons for going on a pilgrimage are as many and varied and individual as the pilgrims on the pilgrimage: in memory of a much loved wife who has died, to forget finding the bodies of brutally killed neighbours, to leave behind crosses bearing the names of ones grandchildren. One lady brought along her harp and would give a recital whenever wherever. When Paulo Coelho undertook the pilgrimage it was to recover his sword.

It is the pilgrimage that is important not the destination. Paulo Coelho had to be reminded of this by his guide Petrus after spending several days walking around in circles.

For medieval man it was simple. It was good for the soul. It reduced time in purgatory. It could be a penance for a crime committed. When Paulo Coelho walked the Way of Saint James it was as a penance.

You were required to leave a will. If you were away a year and a day your wife could re-marry. It offered an easy way, maybe the only way, to get rid of your wife bar killing her.

There is stunning scenery and whose soul could not be uplifted.

On some days Catherine hardly noticed the landscape she was walking through. On those days she prayed.

The pilgrimage is not only a physical journey, it is also an inner journey, a spiritual journey. Those who undertake the pilgrimage come back changed.

The pilgrimage is a personal journey, that is why it is important that you do it on your own.

Halfway through Catherine became dispirited, she wanted to give up. Her eye was then caught by a poster for a monastery. It was a place she had always wished to visit and so she took a two day sabbatical from her pilgrimage and went off on a detour. She was glad she did. Beautiful cloisters, a beautiful service. One of the monks who befriended her was surprised to find she was there from England. She went off walking. The next day, about to catch the bus and return to her pilgrimage, the same monk from the previous day asked her why she was there. She said the beautiful architecture, the service, the singing. The monk said no, it was not beautiful, only God was beautiful. He blessed her and sent her on her way.

John Brierley (from The Route to Compostela):

‘The true temple is not a structure at all. Its true holiness lies at the inner altar around which the structure is built – yet the real beauty of the inner temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. An emphasis on beautiful structures can be a sign of unwillingness to exercise spiritual vision. As we walk through the landscape temple that is the camino and through the towns and cities spread out along the way, we pass some of the most physically striking religious buildings to be found anywhere in the world. But let us not confuse the messenger with the message and also help each other to search out that elusive inner altar.’

In answer to a question, Catherine said one fanatical young man who was expressing his own personal opinion thought that non-Catholics should not participate in Mass. He was not Spanish and did not in any way represent the experience of walking the route. Catherine actually could because she had been given a personal dispensation by the Catholic church.

I reminded of The Witch of Portobello where Athena is barred from taking Mass because she is divorced. She walks out and curses the church. The rules of the church being more important than grace. Paulo Coelho has Jesus looking in thinking he would not be welcome either.

I am also reminded of a scene in The Idiot described by Philip Yancey in What’s So Amazing About Grace . Jesus returns to earth at the time of the Inquisition. An old cardinal spots and recognises Jesus for who He is and orders His arrest and imprisonment. Visiting Jesus in his cell he tells Him that he will have to be executed a second time as the Church has had to spend the last millennium undoing all the harm he caused. [see The Grand Inquisitor]

Jesus dismissal of the Pharisees also comes to mind.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The Church of England discusses the exclusion or not of women and gays. To do so is to exclude more than half of the population!

Jesus welcomed everyone. He mixed with all stratas of society. No one was excluded!

Desmond Tutu (from a sermon at the Chapel of King’s College, London):

‘When Jesus spoke of being lifted up on the cross he said “I, if I be lifted up will draw..” – he didn’t say “I will draw some” – he said “I, if I be lifted up will draw ALL – draw all to me to hold them” all of us drawn into the divine embrace that excludes no-one – black, yellow, white, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female, young, old, gay, lesbian, so-called straight – yes it IS radical. All, all, ALL belong – Arafat, Sharon, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, George Bush, Tony Blair, Palestinian, Israeli, Jew, Arab, Protestant, Catholic – all, ALL, all belong in this family.’

Whenever and wherever Catherine participated in Mass. It was a multicultural experience. Everyone was welcome and it was an uplifting experience. The official figures underestimate the multinational aspect of the pilgrimage, at least from Catherine’s personal observation.

Catherine described a lovely example of synchronicity. An absolute must for her to stay was San Nicolas, once belonging to the Knights Templar. She arrived only to find it was full. She walked off down the road and rested on a bridge to consider her options. A car pulled up and the driver asked where she wished to go. He said he would take her. He then offered her a stay at San Nicolas, it was he who ran it. There she met an Australian lady who she had met a few days previously. This lady had been on a pilgrimage to Walsingham. She showed her pictures of candles and the names inscribed. One was what Catherine had left with the name of her daughter Lucy! Another of the pilgrims was coming to work in the hospital in Guildford!

Talking to Catherine I explained why I was there. That I had walked to Loseley Park for the Celebrating Surrey Festival and had seen the poster at St Nicolas for the talks. Oh you must come to my talk on the Loseley Manuscripts she said. She then went on to tell me that the family were buried in the chapel at St Nicolas which was currently being restored.

The talk was preceded by Mass followed by eats and drinks. Catherine generously provided the wine and the food. Red wine from the region, though not the white (though Paulo Coelho would dismissively say white is not wine).

On leaving, Father Andrew (if it be he) thanked me for coming. No I said, it is I who should be thanking you for hosting such a wonderful talk and Catherine for giving it. Father Andrew has a blog Heart to Heart.

In discussing her personal experience of the pilgrimage Catherine radiated an aura of spirituality and belief that you would not find in most churches in a month of Sundays. It was a pleasure and honour to hear her speak.

After completing the pilgrimage you have to contribute or create something. Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist, many of his books have their roots somewhere along the Way to Saint James. His guide Petrus painted ‘a beautiful, immense picture’ that depicted all that had happened to him. Dr Catherine Ferguson gave two wonderful talks!

Synchronicity: A couple of days later I walked past Holy Trinity Church at the top of the High Street in Guildford and saw a large poster outside calling for equality of women in the church. Well done Holy Trinity! Late that night listening to the midnight news I heard that the Vatican had changed Church Law to make the attempted ordination of women a grave crime! Methinks the endemic sexual abuse within the Church is a grave crime, aided and abetted by cover-ups, more concerned with the tarnished reputation of the Church than the pain and suffering of the victims. It is not though a grave crime under Church Law to not report these sex crimes to the civil authorities.

Synchronicity: A few days after writing and publishing I learnt from Paulo Coelho that he has a street named after him in Santiago de Compostela, Rua Paulo Coelho. His comment was in response to a suggestion that Santiago de Compostela erects a statue in his honour for popularizing the pilgrimage.

Also see

The History of the Pilgrimage to Compostela

The Pilgrimage

Carolena’s Quest for the Sword

Tourists to Pilgrims

Cantigas de Santa Maria

Pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory with the Knights of St Columba

Carolena’s Quest for the Sword

July 2, 2010
The Cathars martyrs of pure Christian love 16 March 1244

The Cathars martyrs of pure Christian love 16 March 1244

‘We are all pilgrims in search of the unknown.’ — Paulo Coelho

Two decades ago Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho was set a penance for his arrogance by his Master J. He had to walk the Way of St James (el Camino de Santiago), a medieval pilgrim’s route that had fallen into disuse and was by the mid-1980s little walked. An account of which he gives in The Pilgrimage.

Two decades on as 2009 drew to an end, Paulo Coelho pondered on whether in this age of computer games and general inactivity, anyone could be persuaded to embark on a real life adventure. Early 2010, he set a quest, clues were posted on his blog and all anyone had to do was to solve the clues, then visit all the places that the clues pointed to. The first person to reach the final destination would find and receive a sword deposited there by Paulo Coelho.

One of those who successfully completed the quest, but sadly not in time to recover the sword, was Carolena Sabah. She has kindly published with illustrations her account of her quest.

One of the places she visited or passed by was Montsegur, the final stronghold of the Cathars. The Cathars were closest to the life of Jesus which no doubt explains why the Church launched its first Crusade against the Cathars, that and the greed of the northern French Barons who wanted their lands in what is now the South of France.

Eric Levi commemorates the Cathars in his Era trilogy. Paulo Coelho mentions them in his novel Brida. The Cathars form the major element of the plot in Labyrinth by Kate Mosse.

The account by Carolena Sabah, especially her photos, compliments Paulo’s account of his trip in The Pilgrimage. Which has given me an idea. Why not a special illustrated 25th anniversary limited edition coffee table size of The Pilgrimage with sidebars on the various places, cf the special limited edition of The Da Vinci Code?

Carolena Sabah stars in and co-produced The Witch of Portobello based on the novel by Paulo Coelho of the same name.

The closest I have been on a pilgrimage was a trip to Aylesford Priory with the Knights of St Columba!

Synchronicity: At the weekend I walked to the Celebrating Surrey Festival along the River Wey, then along the North Downs Way, dropping down to Loseley Park. On my way there the lovely scent of elderflower, on my way back in the gathering dusk the lovely scent of honeysuckle. As I passed St Nicholas Church I saw they were to have two talks on the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (7-30pm in the evening on Tuesday 6 and 13 of July 2010), a medieval pilgrims route. A route that had fallen into disuse until Paulo Coelho wrote of his pilgrimage in The Pilgrimage.

See

The Quest of the Sword is over!

Carolena’s Pilgrimage

Carolena’s Quest

The Pilgrimage

Brida

The Quest

Conversation with the master – The journey

Pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory with the Knights of St Columba

The Witch of Portobello

The Quest of the Sword is over!

February 8, 2010
Quest of the Sword

Quest of the Sword

“Enigma is over. Winner arrived one hour ago.” — Paulo Coelho

The Quest of the Sword is over! Last night Paulo Coelho reported that the Quest of the Sword was over.

Twenty years ago through arrogance, Paulo Coelho lost the sword that he thought was rightfully his. To regain his sword he had to walk El Camino de Santiago, an ancient medieval pilgrim’s route. Paulo Coelho recounts the story in The Pilgrimage.

Twenty years on Paulo Coelho wondered in a world of virtual reality do we still have a sense of adventure? He set an Enigma. I have to admit that I did not have a clue. Solving the Enigma was a necessary but not sufficient condition. Real places had to visited, real people spoken to, real tasks carried out. Awaiting the lucky person who was first to complete the journey, lying close to the Greenwich Meridian, was a real sword given to Paulo Coelho on his sixtieth birthday.

Sunday evening Paul Coelho reported that the Quest of the Sword was over!

Synchronicity: Sunday afternoon my lovely friend Sian and I attended an organ recital at a Benedictine Abbey. At the entrance to the Abbey grounds was the sign of the scallop shell, the sign of El Camino de Santiago!

Also see

Queste

Quest of the Sword

Santiago’s Dream