Voices on the Camino
“Setting out is not covering miles of land or sea or travelling faster than the speed of light. It is first and foremost opening ourselves to other people, trying to get to know them, going out to meet them… It is possible to travel alone, but the good traveler knows that the journey is human life and life needs company.” (Dom Helder Camara)
To wrap up our Camino season for 2019, Elaine and myself wanted to give the last word to people who have shared the path with us here in Waterford over the last year. We’ve met amazing people, each with their own unique story to tell, each with a resilience of spirit and a kindness of heart that inspires both of us on our way. Their voices capture a little of the essence of we all need from time to time when we come away on Camino. Long may our paths cross!
The Waterford Camino was an experience that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. There are so many hidden gems of nature’s beauty along the way that you would never discover alone. Surprises around every bend. This combined with Phil’s reflective readings and meditative music allowed nature to come alive in us. On the boat trip, Elaine’s smoked salmon along with the freshly cooked chicken sandwiches went down a treat. The gentle caring atmosphere created by Phil and Elaine left us feeling very secure and relaxed. Everything was taken care of. Walks were tailored to the ability of each participant. The guidance of Phil from a historical and spiritual aspect was moving and uplifting and led to a sense that we are part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. We were completely overawed with the whole experience and look forward to April 2020 when we will return for more. (Anne and Mai, Offaly)
We had an amazing 2 days with Phil and Elaine. They are the ultimate hosts. They bend over backwards to make sure our every wish was exceeded. We saw the most beautiful views and went on an incredible bike ride on the Waterford Greenway. They also treated us to some fabulous meals. I cannot recommend them enough. They are truly wonderful people. Our time with them was the highlight of our vacation in Europe. (Julie, Ottumwa, U.S.A.)
Thank you for a rejuvenating few days. I enjoyed everything and I have a bank of films of each event which I can re-run at will. I had no idea Waterford county is so beautiful; I find it hard to choose what I enjoyed most. I think you have put together something very unique. Your enthusiasm and your vision were catching. I loved the inspirational stories, the reflective pauses and the music. Elaine, I enjoyed our chats. I came home refreshed and more in touch with my inner self. I wish you all the best with a very worthy venture. Thanks for the extra kindness to me. (Anne, Shannon, Co. Limerick.)
Absolutely wonderful experience. Phil and Elaine were incredible tour guides. Very knowledgeable and friendly. They went out of their way beyond the scheduled tour to share stories and the history of the area. The Greenway was lovely and views were amazing. Their passion truly shined through. Best tour of our Ireland trip. (Sue, Texas, U.S.A.)
Throughout our Camino, we listened to the most apt, insightful quotes, so true to the busyness of people’s lives today in contrast with the peacefulness and tranquility evident in the beautiful places we passed along the way. Stories of times past were articulated so well that you could almost hear the sounds of the history of the place come to life. I found that it was possible to visualise how things must have been long ago, especially as we were looking over the rusty railway and the wide river. Adding to the whole experience was the lovely nurturing food and laughter at every stop. Later, we strolled through Crough Woods, paused for reflection and we had quiet, personal time by rushing waters – allowing the torrent carry all our troubles downstream. All in all the whole experience for me was surreal and I felt that I had a ‘brain shower’ which left me feeling like Seamus Heaney once said, “walking on air”. Thank you Elaine and Phil. (Annette, Waterford)
Walking the Waterford Camino with Elaine and Phil was a unique experience. Gentle, stunning walks were interspersed with meaningful and insightful reflections. I continue to benefit from the spiritual medicine dispensed on our Camino experience. (Frances, Waterford)
Wow, I cannot say enough good things about this excursion and the company that runs it. My husband and I arrived on the ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ Cruise Ship. We really wanted to get away from the generic tours and mass crowds so we found this little gem of a tour on Viator. Talk about an authentic experience. Phil and Elaine are the friendliest tour guides I have ever had. They are very knowledgeable and passionate about Waterford and had every detail in planning worked out meticulously for us prior to our arrival. Their ‘Cycle of Life’ experience on the Waterford Greenway was first class from the location to the bikes to the food. As we set out along the Greenway by the river, it was so tranquil and beautiful; exactly what I hoped and pictured Ireland to be like. As we peddled, we were able to see more magical places along the old railway line which I won’t mention because you have to experience them for yourself. We also stopped for lunch in an adorable little pub, Kiersey’s, in Kilmacthomas. We had a very authentic lunch of bangers n’ mash and bacon n’ cabbage. My husband was raving about the lunch for days.If you want to REALLY experience Waterford, its breathtaking scenery and the friendly accommodating locals, you have to do this tour. It well exceeded our expectations. (Chantelle, North Carolina, U.S.A.)
Early crisp morning by the river for meditative silence to start the day, stories of Cromwell and history of the train travel in bygone days led by a walk on the Waterford Greenway. Exploring the woods with inspirational words from Phil to lead into contemplative observation of birdsong and mindful walking. An adventure into the Mahon Falls with invigorating mountain air led to stops at tearooms to refresh and chat with the Camino group. Historical input of landmarks by a local historian, Garvan Cummins, complete with photographs of local happenings. A world I never knew existed until that Camino day. Thank you Elaine and Phil. (Grace, Waterford)
Thank you for a wonderful day. Memories that will stay a lifetime for all the right reasons. Life affords us every now and then the opportunity to meet and share our journey with others. Starting out our journey on a wet November morning and ending up friends at sunset. These are memories when the darkness visits our lives will bring hope as we all know daybreak and sunrise always comes. (Caroline, Kilkenny)
As an Australian in Ireland, the Waterford Camino was the highlight of my year. We had all the beauty of the places we visited, a really fine group of pilgrims and 2 inspiring leaders. There is no better way to spend time close to God than surrounded by nature and in the company of faith-filled and spiritual people. The story of the Golden Buddha would have to be one of the all-time greats. Look at the people around us and there is gold in everyone. Loved the Waterford Greenway because I have biked it twice, on foot you see parts again with added meaning. All the organising is so worth it, Phil and Elaine. 100% recommended. (Br. Gerry, Mount Sion, Waterford)
The Story of the Golden Buddha has a profound message that echoes through the ages.No harm to remind ourselves of its power. 300 years ago, the Burmese army planned an attack to invade Siam (Thailand). The Siamese monks were in possession of the most amazing Buddha statue; 10 feet tall, in excess of 2.5 tons in weight and made of solid gold valued today around 200 million euro. Like those who passed before them, these monks viewed themselves as temporary custodians to a timeless treasure that would endure to the last. Given the monetary value of the statue, they knew the army would desecrate it and reap its spoils for themselves. They decided to cover the Buddha in 12 inches of clay to camouflage its true worth.
When the Burmese army arrived, all the monks were slaughtered. Everything was in ruins, but the clay Buddha survived the onslaught from the unsuspecting pillagers. There it remained hidden for centuries from generations of monks and visitors beneath its furtive disguise. In the mid-1950s, almost 250 years later, the monastery was to be re-located to make room for a highway. The monks arranged for a crane to come to move the clay Buddha to their new residence. To their surprise, the crane began to crack with the weight, so they waited for a day for more powerful equipment. They covered it with plastic sheets to protect it from the oncoming monsoon rains.
That night, the head monk went out to check if their sacred statue was still standing. He was worried that the crane would have disturbed their clay Buddha to the point of collapse and feared it would not survive the storm. When the light of his torch shone into the crack of the shrouded Buddha, he saw a glimmer… a reflection of something underneath the cloud of clay. He started to carefully carve away the shards of clay to find the glimmer grew brighter.
He rushed indoors to call the monks from their slumber. Together they chiselled with painful precision, inch by inch, until all was revealed. They marvelled in disbelief at the gleaming gold sculpture before their eyes. The statue was re-located to Bangkok where it resides in the Temple of the Golden Buddha. Every year, millions visit to worship at his feet. And to think it may never have been discovered.
“The purpose of life is to remove the layers so that more of the gold within us can shine and see the light of day. And the exciting thing is that every act of courage, every act of goodness will have an immediate pay off for you. Each time you do what you know is the right thing and follow your truth rather than the dictates of the crowd, a little more of the mud covering up who your truly are begins to fall. Each time you act with love rather than fear you become more of who you were meant to be. Every time you reach for your dreams, you begin to play your highest game and reach out towards your destiny.” (Robin Sharma)