2018 Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

September 13 – 17, 2018 | Northern Oregon Coast, USA


Application Deadline: July 22, 2018
Notification of application status: August 6, 2018

Application Fee: $10
Registration Fee: $475
Scholarship Award: $425
(Scholarship recipients will be require to pay a $50 registration fee)


The Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage: Recovering the Sacred is a spiritual and intercultural learning experience drawing from Celtic Christian and Native American Wisdom. Through the ancient spiritual practice of pilgrimage, we seek to recover our inherent and sacred connection to all living things.  Our walk together will be an act of resistance. We will explore our unique, generative, and creative response to the dominant and violent forces of our time that perpetuate our disconnection. Guided spiritual practices will invite each pilgrim towards restoration of harmony and right relation with self, Creator, neighbor, and the planet.

This pilgrimage route meanders along the Pacific Coast Trail in Northern Oregon, USA, and traverses approximately 35 miles of seaside foothills, sand dunes, coastal rainforest and expansive breathtaking beaches. Beginning with the rising of the sun in the morning, our group will walk 10-15 miles each day by way of trail, beach, and brief roadside walking.

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

Pedagogy and Program 

Pilgrims will practice together what it means to be a beloved community, making specific agreements about our group norms and way of being together. Differences among group members, whether in ideology, religion, ethnicity, or race will be honored and seen as opportunities for growing in awareness and understanding. Together we will journey towards healing, connection, wonder and a clear sense of calling.

Periods of walking in silence, facilitated conversations, reflection, observance of nature, and prayer will support the embodiment of the experience. Participants will be required to read Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by John Philip Newell and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachers of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerrer as a primer for our learning. Creative morning prayer and intentions will start each day before settling into rhythms of silence, sharing our stories, breaking bread, holding space for authentic connection, and group dialogue.Our intention is to learn from each other, the surrounding natural landscape, and the required readings. This will be our basis for exploring our unique and communal call to participate in meaningful action towards healing and transformation in the world.

Required Reading

Participants will be required to read the following as a primer for our learning.

  • Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by John Philip Newell
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerrer

Trip Leaders

The NW Coastal Pilgrimage is led by Ben Lindwall and Stephanie Escher.

Ben is the Executive Director of HEARTBEAT, based in Portland, OR and has been leading spiritually oriented trips for over a decade. He is a certified Spiritual Director and is also certified in First Aid. Ben made the pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona in Scotland in 2011 and has since been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell.




Stephanie,  Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, is a hospice Chaplain and engages in faith-based ministry on a volunteer basis at Hennepin Ave UMC in Minneapolis, MN. Stephanie is a Native American and a former pilgrim from Heartbeat’s 2015 Camino Peace Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.


Trail over Tillamook Head

Trail over Tillamook Head

Physical Expectations, Training and Terrain

Pilgrims are required to train with a loaded pack and must be prepared to walk up to 20 miles on any given day. The first day (15 miles) involves walking on firm, flat sand during low tide. The second day (12 miles) includes a major 1000 ft climb up and over Tillamook Head on forested state park trails (pilgrims must be able to walk on uneven, rocky and sometimes muddy ground) with a steep ascent and descent. The third and final full day (8 miles) of walking returns to the beach below picturesque seaside bluffs during low tide. The route consists of approximately 60% beach walking, 35% forested trails, and 5% roadside walking.

The trip leaders will work to find a pace that works for everyone, usually a fairly brisk walk. The element of a physical challenge and willingness to push through discomfort is an intentional aspect of the pilgrimage and we believe this can be an important tool in the transformation process. Sharing such an experience with others and offering or receiving support along the way can augment the positive outcomes. If pain or discomforts arise, each pilgrim will be personally responsible for expressing their needs and judging their ability to continue.

While usually sunny this time of year, the possibility always exists for high winds, cool air, and rain. Our group will be expected to walk rain or shine unless dangerous conditions are present. Trekking poles are highly recommended and appropriate heavy-duty waterproof rain gear should be packed.

A few other details to keep in mind:

  • At certain times restrooms will not be available and there may be minimal coverage for privacy.
  • A couple stream crossings will be necessary.
  • Group time will be spent sitting in a circle, sometimes on the ground for up to one hour.
  • Each participant should also be prepared to carry up to 2 lbs of food and/or other gear needed for the whole group.
  • To maximize the ideal time of beach walking on firm sand during low tide, some days may start as early as 5:00am.

Cost and Application Process

There is a $10 application fee, and you must be at least 18 years of age for the entirety of the event to be considered.. Those who wish to apply must complete the online application and have a mentor, teacher, or spiritual leader complete an online reference form by July 22, 2018. 


Please have medical history information available for filling out the application to help us ensure that selected participants are physically and mentally able to complete this pilgrimage. Please be aware that the co-leaders of this trip practice spiritual accompaniment, have experience leading wilderness trips, and are certified in First Aid but are not medical or mental health professionals. A brief phone interview is also required once the application is submitted. There is space for 12 participants and applicants will be notified of their status by August 6. All selected participants will be required to provide proof of insurance and emergency contact information and sign Heartbeat’s Release and Indemnification Waiver and purchase travel insurance (if not included in current policy).

The cost of this pilgrimage is $475 and scholarship funds are available for those with limited income. The registration fee covers meals, lodging, transportation from Portland to the coast and back, guided walking, and program.

Scholarships are available and successful scholarship applicants will receive a $425 scholarship towards the overall costs and are required to pay a $50 registration fee.


Additional costs:

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Meals and Lodging

All meals will be planned by trip staff and prepared by group members. We are happy to accommodate conventional, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diet. Every effort will be made to use locally sourced and organic ingredients.

The first and last night of the trip will be spent in state park yurts. These are semi-rustic accommodations with bunk bed mattresses, electricity, and heat. The second night will be spent at a hostel in Seaside, OR where bunkrooms with bedding are available (we have blocked out rooms for our group only). The third night will be spent at a church in Cannon Beach. Showers, bathrooms and a kitchen are available at all locations.


Accepted applicants will meet at the Leaven Community Center in Portland, OR on Thursday, September 13th at 11am. After lunch (provided), introductions, and orientation the group will be transported by passenger van to Ft. Stevens State Park on the coast, making some food and supply drops along our route on the way. Our walk will conclude near Arch Cape, OR, and we will shuttle back to Ft. Steven’s State Park for our final overnight and group gathering. The group will return to Portland by 12pm on Monday, September 17th.

DAY 1          Meet in Portland, van shuttle to the coast, make food drops along route, overnight at Ft Steven’s State Park

DAY 2          Walk to Seaside, overnight at Seaside International Hostel - MILES: 15

DAY 3          Walk to Cannon Beach, overnight at Community Church - MILES: 12

DAY 4          Walk to Arch Cape, shuttle back to Ft. Stevens State Park - MILES: 8

DAY 5          Return to Portland, OR

Tentative Daily Schedule:

6:00   Prayer/meditation
6:30   Breakfast
7:15    Depart for morning walk
9:30   Morning break: snack, prayer, and story sharing
10:15  Walk
12:30  Lunch break
1:00    Walk
3:00   Afternoon break: snack, prayer, and story sharing
3:45    Walk
5:00    Arrive at lodging/free time
6:30    Dinner
7:15     Group time
9:30    Light out

View from Hug Point

View from Hug Point


Packing list

*Please be mindful that the packing list includes what you will be wearing (for instance, you will wear one pair of socks and pack two— three total)

Depending on weather forecast, you may plan to leave some luggage locked up in the shuttle trailer to avoid excess carrying on the trail.

  • Socks (3) light wool for hiking
  • Sock liner (3) prevents blisters (optional)
  • Underwear (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Comfortable sports bra (2)
  • Shorts (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Pants (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Shirts (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Long sleeve shirt (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Lightweight hiking shoes
  • Light sandal
  • Rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Moleskin (or other blister treatment)
  • earplugs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toothpaste (small tube)
  • Soap (small all purpose bar for body and hair, if possible)
  • Water bottle (at least 900ml/32oz)
  • 5 clothespins
  • Plastic plate, fork, and spoon
  • Hiking towel (small quick dry)
  • Toiletries
  • Medication
  • Backpack
  • Pillow
  • Journal
  • Pen or pencil
  • Camera phone and waterproof container
  • Sleeping bag and mat (note: these items will be dropped at a specific site and will note be carried in backpack)
  • Small pocket knife (see TSA regulations if transporting knife in carry-on luggage)
  • Feminine Urinary Device (like this one at REI)

Cancellation policy

Registration fees are nonrefundable unless another participant is able to fill a cancelation.

John Muir and Earth Day


Today, on this Earth Day, we honor John Muir, the greatest modern prophet of environmental consciousness and action. Earth Day – April 22 – is wonderfully twinned with John Muir Day – April 21 – a day designated to recognize this great teacher who comes to us in a stream of  Celtic guides who celebrated the sacredness of the Earth.

John Philip Newell fondly calls John Muir [1838-1914] “an American Celt” for though he spent most of his life in the United States, he was born and spent his boyhood in Scotland. In a recent lecture at the University of Edinburgh, John Philip Newell examined the Celtic roots of John Muir. Click on the link below to hear is an audio clip from that lecture. There is also a transcript below.

Audio Clip from John Philip Newell Lecture “John Muir: Celtic Prophet of Ecological Consciousness”

Prayer for the Life of the World

For everything that emerges from the earth
thanks be to you, O God,
Holy Root of being
Sacred Sap that rises
Full-bodied Fragrance of earth’s unfolding form.
May we know that we are of You
may we know that we are in You
may we know that we are one with You
together one.
Guide us as nations to what is deepest
open us as peoples to what is first
lead us as a world to what is dearest
that we may know the holiness of wholeness
that we may learn the strength of humility
that together we may live close to the earth
and grow in grounded glory.

John Philip Newell | Praying with the Earth | Photo by Jad Limcaco on Unsplash



Something of the ancient Celtic strand comes to Muir through his grandfather, David Gilrye, who lived across the street from him in Dunbar, and who encouraged in the boy an open-eyed wonder at nature and his expeditions along the coastline.

“When I was a boy in Scotland,” wrote Muir, “I was fond of everything that was wild and all my life, I’ve been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures. And best of all as a boy in Dunbar I loved to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of Dunbar castle when the sea and the sky, the waves and the clouds, were mingled together as one.”

In Muir’s later unfolding, he says, “All terrestrial things are essentially celestial.” All terrestrial things are essentially celestial. That is, everything on earth is essentially of heaven. At the heart of all matter is spirit.

“The earth,” he said, “is a divine incarnation.” He uses this word ‘incarnation’ which in religion has tended only to be referred to Jesus in the context of… For Muir it is not just Jesus. It is not just humanity or the creatures. It is even the geological foundations of the earth that he sees as sacred. Playfully he calls them the ‘in-stone-ations’ of God.

Everything is essentially spirit, he says, clothed upon with flesh, with leaves, with water, or that harder substance called rock. All these buried forms of matter are simply portions of God. They are all of the God essence.

Scholarships Available for Iona and the Canada and New England School of Celtic Consciousness

Apply for a scholarship now to attend a pilgrimage on the Isle of Iona or the New England or Canada location of the School of Celtic Consciousness. You don’t want to pass up this opportunity!

Please note that we only consider applicants with significant financial need for scholarship awards.

Iona             Canada School of Celtic Consciousness             New England School of Celtic Consciousness



Iona Pilgrimage

15 -22 September 2018 | St. Columba Hotel | Iona, Scotland, UK
Award: $1,240 | Application Deadline: 1 May 2018 

Iona Abbey at Sunset

Iona Abbey at Sunset

Each day on Iona will begin and end with the rhythm of prayer and meditation together, either at the Abbey or elsewhere on the island. John Philip will teach on themes related to the oneness of the human soul and the healing of creation, asking what sacrifices we are to make in our lives as individuals, as nations, and as a species, if we and the world are to be well. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes lodging, breakfast, dinner, and program fees. Because of limited availability, applicants must be willing to share a room (if applying with a friend or family member, please indicate in the appropriate field on the application).

Additional cost to recipients: travel expenses to get to Iona and lunch each day.

 Instructions: fill out the online application form by clicking here and have a mentor, teacher, or advisor complete our online reference form – found by clicking here - by May 1, 2018. A Heartbeat Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 18, 2018. The funds will then be transferred directly to the St. Columba Hotel in the recipients’ name.

If you require further financial assistance in traveling to Iona, you may apply for an additional $500 travel stipend. To apply for a travel stipend, please click here.

Please note there is an application fee: $10. An invoice will be sent via PayPal once your application is submitted.


Canada School of Celtic Consciousness

3 – 5 July 2018 | Five Oaks Retreat Centre | Paris, Ontario, Canada
Award: $420 | Application Deadline: 1 May 2018

This is the first annual gathering (and the only Canadian location) of the Canada School of Celtic Consciousness, a place to nurture a community of shared vision and spiritual practice for transformation in our lives and world. This retreat is open to all. The teachings will focus on the central themes of Celtic Spirituality including the sacredness of the earth and the human soul. Contemplative practices will concentrate on sustainable disciplines for individual well-being and collective healing. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes food, lodging, and program fees. Scholarship recipients are responsible for their own transportation to/from the event. Recipients will be asked to share a room.

Instructions: fill out the online application by clicking here and have a teacher, mentor, advisor, or religious/spiritual leader fill out our online reference form - found by clicking here - by May 1, 2018. Heartbeat’s Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 18, 2018.

Please note there is an application fee of $10. An invoice will be sent via PayPal once your application is submitted.


New England School of Celtic Consciousness

10 – 12 July 2018 | Mercy by the Sea | Madison, Connecticut, USA
 Award: $350 | Application Deadline: 1 May 2018

This is the second annual gathering of the New England School of Celtic Consciousness, a place to nurture a community of shared vision and spiritual practice for transformation in our lives and world. This retreat is open to all. The teachings will focus on the central themes of Celtic Spirituality including the sacredness of the earth and the human soul. Contemplative practices will concentrate on sustainable disciplines for individual well-being and collective healing. Click here for more event information.

This scholarship includes food, lodging, and program fees. Scholarship recipients are responsible for their own transportation to/from the event. Recipients will be asked to share a room.

Instructions: fill out the online application by clicking here and have a teacher, mentor, advisor, or religious/spiritual leader fill out our online reference form – found by clicking here -  by May 1, 2018. Heartbeat’s Selection Committee will review all applications and notify successful candidates by May 18, 2018.

Please note there is an application fee of $10. An invoice will be sent via PayPal once your application is submitted.


Let Me Serve Love, a Chant

 Our friends at AwakeningSoul have lovingly created a musical setting for one of John Philip Newell’s prayers from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter. We hope you enjoy the chant below, “Let Me Serve Love”, composed by Lindsey Blount and Fran McKendree and performed by the AwakeningSoul Ensemble.


To play, please click at the very left edge of the audio file. 

Performed by the AwakeningSoul Ensemble;
Lindsey Blount Lange, lead vocals
Isabel Castellvi, cello and vocals
River Guerguerian, percussion
Fran McKendree, vocals, acoustic guitar, mountain dulcimer
Charles Milling, bass, electric guitar and vocals


Let Me Serve Love  words; John Philip Newell © John Philip Newell
music; Lindsey Blount Lange/Fran McKendree © 2018 Neath Music, BMI


Soon available for download on CDBaby.com and iTunes

Camino Peace Pilgrimage with Ben Lindwall and Mohamed Kiari


7 – 15 April 2018

Religion is at the heart of some of the most conflicted places of violence and hatred in our world. Peace between us as nations and the healing of the earth will be served by peace and healing between us as religious traditions.


Our 2018 Camino Peace Pilgrimage, a collaboration between Heartbeat and the University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy, will consist of 14 people (intergenerational) from many religious traditions and spiritual backgrounds walking 100 miles/160 km of the ancient Spanish Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route together.

Each day will include various spiritual practices (yoga, meditation, and prayer), hearing each other’s stories, and about 10-18 mi/16-29 km of walking. There will also be short periods of time set aside for silence as we walk the Spanish countryside and northern coast. The group will eat breakfast and dinner at each hosting albergue and lunches will be in small-town marketplaces.


Do you have a special interest in multi-faith spirituality, environmentalism, or peace activism? Please apply! A valid passport for the U.K. and Spain are required.


7 – 15 April 2018

We will begin in Edinburgh, Scotland with an evening meal together on 7th April at the home of John Philip and Ali Newell, flying to Spain on 8th April, then walking the Camino Del Norte for six days, from Santander to Ribadesella, and returning to Edinburgh on 15th April. Participants will need to arrange their own travel to Edinburgh for the beginning of the pilgrimage. 


General Scholarship (space for four participants in total)

Please complete the online application and have a teacher, mentor, spiritual leader, or advisor fill out the online reference form by 8 February 2018. We will notify successful candidates by 15 February 2018. All fees will be invoiced through PayPal.

Non-scholarship (space for four participants in total)

Successful applications will pay a participant fee of $950 (*see extra costs below).

Please complete the online application and have a teacher, mentor, spiritual leader, or advisor fill out the online reference form by 8 February 2018. We will notify successful candidates by 15 February 2018. All fees will be invoiced through PayPal.

Scholarship for University of Edinburgh Students (space for six participants in total)

Successful applications will pay a participant fee of £100 (*see extra costs below).

Please complete the online application and have a teacher, mentor, spiritual leader, or advisor fill out the online reference form by 8 February 2018. We will notify successful candidates by 15 February 2018. All fees will be invoiced through PayPal.

Successful applicants will receive the following:

  • Airfare from Edinburgh, Scotland to Santander, Spain (and return)
  • Sleeping accommodations for seven nights during the pilgrimage
  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • Bus and train transportation in Spain
  • Admission to Tito Bustillo Caves Tour in Ribadesella and Gaudi House in Comillas
  • Guided navigation on the Camino del Norte (northern route of the Camino de Santiago)
  • Complimentary copy of The Rebirthing of God by John Philip Newell (to be read before the pilgrimage)

Extra Costs:

  • All non-students will be required to pay a $10 application fee which will be invoiced through PayPal
  • Individual travel insurance
  • Lunch each day: $8 / €6 / £5 per day for a total of $56 / €44 / £35 for the week
  • Equipment: each participant will be required to supply their own equipment (small backpack, sturdy hiking shoes, rain jacket, etc.). A packing list will be sent a few months before the pilgrimage
  • Travel fare to and from Edinburgh, Scotland (if applicable)


The Camino Peace Pilgrimage is a physically rigorous experience. Multiple days include walking up to 18 miles/29 kilometers in a day, often with challenging elevation changes and a lot of long and steep hills. Pilgrims are expected to train extensively to prevent pain or injury while on the walk. While some of the accommodations are very nice, some include a bunk bed in a simple hostel, and a few nights include a shared queen size bed with one other person. During group sharing time, participants are sometimes sitting on the ground or floor. All participants will be required to sign a waiver release.

Interfaith Leaders

The Pilgrimage will be co-led by Ben Lindwall, Executive Director of Heartbeat, and Mohamed Kiari, a 2015 Camino Peace Pilgrim.

photoBen lives in Portland, Oregon USA, where he and his family practice energy conservation in their tiny house. Ben has been leading group experiences for over a decade in various capacities. He has been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell over the past few years and is a certified Spiritual Director. Ben has been the Executive Director at Heartbeat since 2013, working with people from all over the world to advance a vision of healing, transformation, and peace. Coming from an evangelical Christian background, and now like many of his generation, Ben considers himself spiritual without any formal religious membership. He and his wife Jen have two young children.

“A pilgrimage is always an opportunity to be re-born. I’ve seen and experienced the power of leaving behind the safety and comfort of home on a quest for deeper understanding, awareness, and connection. The act of moving our bodies, moving our feet gently upon the earth in unison can be a kind of soul-march. It reminds us of our true identity, our oneness, and creates liminal space to hear and know our calling. In co-leading this pilgrimage, I hope to cultivate an environment for each of us to learn and grow.” – Ben Lindwall


photo3Mohamed pursued a BSc in Engineering in his home country, Libya, between 2001 and 2006, where he graduated with Honours. After that, he traveled to the UK for postgraduate studies where he obtained an MSc and a Ph.D. degree in Structural Engineering from the University of Edinburgh. During his time at the university, he was an active member of the Edinburgh University chaplaincy, and he helped in organizing events in support of interfaith dialogue. Mohamed currently works as a structural design engineer in an engineering consultancy. He works and lives in St. Albans, UK.

“In Arabic, the word ‘travel’ means to explore and discover. My journey with El Camino pilgrimage in 2015 was an incredible experience of learning and discovery. The pilgrimage brought us togehter from a broad spectrum of cultures. We shared our wide diverse faiths and spiritualities. Every day a new story, a new perspective, and a better understanding. We have found a unity in our diversity. We started the journey only knowing each other’s names, but by the end of our walk we were like brothers and sisters.” – Mohamed Kiari


Photos from previous Camino Peace Pilgrimages





2015-05-30 12.46.52


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Ashton Gustafson Interviews John Philip Newell

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 10.04.13 AM

“At the heart of your being is the holy.”

- John Philip Newell

Ashton Gustafson interviews John Philip Newell for his podcast Let the Music Play in a discussion that delves into Celtic Spirituality, John Philip’s books, and more. Though recorded a continent apart, this intimate conversation between Ashton and John Philip will draw you in and speak to your soul. You don’t want to miss a moment of it!

Click here to listen to the podcast on Ashton Gustafson’s blog.

Click here to stream the podcast on iTunes.


Migrant God, Show Me How to Love

Ben and Daniel on the Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

Ben and Daniel on the Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

Dear HeartbeatFamily,

I often hear something that stops me in my tracks while on pilgrimage. As our cohort walked along the Pacific Coast of Oregon last September, Mira said a prayer that I will never forget.

Mira is a neighborhood organizer working with the Hispanic community, some of them undocumented immigrants, in Portland, OR. She attends a faith community that has declared itself a Sanctuary Community, and her work helps build a bridge between English speakers and Spanish speakers. Mira was selected to receive a Heartbeat scholarship to attend our Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage, a 42-mile walk with an intention of fostering connections for our soul and the earth and discerning our role in the world’s healing.

On the third day of the walk, our group paused and together made a labyrinth in the sand on the beach. As the tide slowly crept in, each pilgrim made their way to the center of the labyrinth and back again. After we shared our experience and Mira’s words went straight to the heart:

labyrinth“As I made my way to the center of the labyrinth, I turned inward, rooting into the deep well of love within. A prayer arose and repeated as I breathed in and out: Migrant God, show me how to love. At the center, with heart and hands and eyes open toward the ocean, I took it all in. Everything I needed was there, in and around me.”

It is moments like this that remind me of the critical importance of our work at Heartbeat and the support that we are able to offer those taking direct action in resisting the injustices of our time. After our walk, Mira had this to share:

“I feel called to show up with and for people on the margins, and on the pilgrimage, I felt a pull to consider how I am or am not showing up for myself and for my family. I left reminded of the need to tend and care for myself and the relationships closest to me in order to show up for others and to engage in the work of changing oppressive systems.”

Will you make a gift today and help us continue to advance the Celtic vision of John Philip and Ali Newell, listening for the heartbeat of the Sacred in all things? Thank you for your partnership and support on this incredible journey. The generosity of the Heartbeat family provides vital support for the work of healing and transformation.


Ben Signature



Ben Lindwall, Executive Director

P.s. You can help us save on credit card processing fees by sending a check to:

5431 NE 20th Ave
Portland, OR 97211

Or for your convenience you can donate online here http: heartbeatjourney.org/donate-now/

I Feel I Have Come Home

Dear Heartbeat Family,

I have recently returned from Iona and one of our Pilgrimage Weeks. The island was in its autumnal wildness of beauty. There were days of unspeakable glory in the sun’s lowering light. And there were times, including our pilgrimage walk around the island, when we were showered with that other blessing that Scotland so excels in! Our bodies and souls felt washed.

John Philip Newell on the Iona

John Philip Newell on the Iona

One of the young Heartbeat scholarship recipients said to me, ‘I feel I have come home’. Some of that, of course, was the island itself, always such a sheer gift of blessing. But much of it also was the shape and focus of our community life and study. To enter silence together, as we do at the beginning of the day in the Michael Chapel, is a simple spiritual practice that people are hungering for but haven’t necessarily known how to access. Some of our Iona pilgrims learned for the first time how to take this simple discipline forward in their lives to be rooted more deeply in prayerful awareness. And the teaching sessions, always circling around our threefold vision of Celtic Spirituality – nobility of soul, the sacred earth, and the grounding of vision in compassionate action – more deeply equipped us all to be part of the holy work of transformation.

So many of the pilgrims spoke to me with deep gratitude about our mixture of pilgrimage participants, and especially for the intermingling of generations. This simply would not happen without the financial support that many of you have generously offered the Heartbeat scholarship programme over the years. You need to know just how many young lives you are helping shape and how many older lives are being blessed by relationship across the many boundaries, whether of age or race or class or faith, that have separated us. We need one another.

I came away from Iona with a new sense of urgency. It isn’t necessarily that we need to be ‘busier’ in our work for transformation. Feeling busily driven can speak more of franticness than faithfulness. I wasn’t feeling driven. I was feeling drawn. I believe the time is ripe for the vision we are trying to serve. Whether it is our pilgrimage work, our refugee and interfaith initiatives, or our earth-honouring teachings and School of Celtic Consciousness, Heartbeat has an urgent role to play now. The Spirit is inviting us into greater intentionality about choosing to work together in this Sacred Journey Toward Earth’s Well-Being.

I thank you for being part of this. Please continue to gift Heartbeat’s work with your support.  I urge you forward in the unique role that is yours to play.

With my blessings to you and much gratitude,


John Philip Newell

Report: The Sanctuary Walk for Refugees

Sanctuary Walk for Refugees 2

Recently I wrote to you about the planned Sanctuary Walk for Refugees in Scotland. Well, last weekend we walked with fifty students, faculty and friends of the University of Edinburgh in pilgrimage to an ancient Celtic site of hospitality to support the growing vision of sanctuary for refugees in our university, city, and nation. Importantly we were joined by six young Syrian men who have found new beginnings among us.

One of them, Ibrahim, shared his story with me as we walked together over the great Forth Road Bridge that connects the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland. He had managed to escape from Syria after being tortured by the Assad regime in Damascus. His path to safety took him over vast stretches of Europe as far as Calais on the west coast of France. But there, because of restrictive British Government immigration policies, he was allowed to travel no further in his hope to join his brother in Scotland. Ibrahim decided to buy diving equipment and bravely entered the cold waters of the English Channel, swimming beneath the surface to a ship bound for England. Successfully clambering on board he was able, in international waters, to claim refugee status. A number of hours later he arrived safely in Dover to be processed officially as an internationally displaced person. As soon as he could, Ibrahim headed for Scotland to join his brother. The night he arrived in Edinburgh was the beginning of Advent. The streets and tree-lined paths of the park beneath the Castle had just been lit for the Christmas season. When he saw such a city of welcoming light he said to himself, ‘This is my place of new beginnings’.

Light at St Bridget's KirkThank God, it has been such a place for Ibrahim. He has found welcome here. He is working hard at his English as well as volunteering with a Scottish charity. The hope is that by next year he will be ready to study at the University.

It is for young people like Ibrahim that we walked in pilgrimage last weekend. The University of Edinburgh is the first Sanctuary University in Scotland, waiving tuition fees for refugees. It has also agreed to match the funds that we raise for the University’s Humanitarian Assistance Fund. So far, through the Sanctuary Walk for Refugees, we have raised over £8000. This means that already there is over £16000 of additional support for the subsistence of refugees during their time of study in Edinburgh. Please help in building this amount even further so that others like Ibrahim may say, ‘This is my place of new beginnings’.

Heartbeat is committed to acts of compassion. Please join us. You can make a gift which is tax-deductible in the United States here (please designate for Refugee Fund) or through the ‘Just Giving’ tab at the University of Edinburgh’s Sanctuary Walk contribution page.

With my gratitude to you and blessings,

John Philip Newell

Co-founder, Heartbeat

(You can also send a check to HEARTBEAT, 5431 NE 20th Ave, Portland, OR, 97211)

Interfaith Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

Join us on an interfaith walk as a sign of peace in Oregon, USA. Apply by June 29, 2017.