Heartbeat Scholarships

IMG_9696Each year Heartbeat provides several scholarships to make the practice of retreat and pilgrimage accessible to all. Our goal is to deepen an individual’s spiritual journey and to ground, sustain, and enhance their efforts towards healing and transformation in their own unique context. While on pilgrimage, participants learn spiritual practices to cultivate compassion, mindfulness, and foster a spirit of collaborative action. Ideal candidates demonstrate experience and ongoing work towards peacemaking, healing and transformation in the world. Demonstration of financial need is a requirement to receive scholarship funds.

For more information on applying for a Heartbeat scholarship, please see below. To contribute to our Pilgrimage Scholarship Fund, please click here.

Interfaith NW Coastal Pilgrimage

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.

IMG_3390Our 2017 Northwest Coastal Interfaith Pilgrimage, will consist of 14 people (intergenerational) from many religious traditions and spiritual backgrounds walking 35 miles from Astoria to Arch Cape, Oregon as a sign of peace.

Each day will include various spiritual practices (yoga, salat, or meditation), 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 along the coast.

Application fee:  $10

Standard registration fee: $449 (due upon notification of your acceptance by the selection committee)

Application deadline: June 29, 2017

All applicants will be notified of their status by July 7, 2017. A reference form must be completed by a mentor, teacher, advisor, or religious/spiritual leader by the application deadline.

Scholarships Available!

Scholarships in the amount of $400 are available for those unable to pay the full amount. If applicable, please indicate your need for a scholarship in the application form. Scholarship recipients will be required to pay a $49 registration fee.


Walking 35 miles from Astoria to Arch Cape in Northern Oregon, this pilgrimage will traverse rainforest, sand dunes, and many miles of picturesque beaches. Included in the registration fee and scholarship are guided walking along Oregon’s North Coast, guided contemplative exercises, spiritual accompaniment, meals, lodging, and van shuttle to the coast and back from Portland, OR. Lodging will include yurts, a hostel, and a church community room. Showers are available at each location. Most of the meals will be prepared by the group (gluten free and vegetarian options available upon request).

Our days will begin with morning prayer before settling into a rhythm of sharing meals, holding space for contemplative practice, and intentional group discussion which will focus on exploring our participation in meaningful action towards healing and transformation in the world. Registered participants and scholarship recipients will meet in Portland, OR at 12pm on September 21. A van and trailer shuttle will be provided for ferry to the coast, making some food and supply drops along our route. Our walk will conclude in Arch Cape, OR and we will shuttle back to Portland, OR on September 25, returning around 11:00am. FullSizeRender


photoBen Lindwall lives in Portland, Oregon USA where he and his family experiment with sustainable living inside their tiny home. He has been leading group experiences in various capacities for over a decade. Ben has been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell since 2011 and is a certified Spiritual Director. He 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 (and a Christian) without any formal church membership. He and his wife Jen have been married since 2003 and have two young children.

“A pilgrimage is always an opportunity to be re-born. I’ve seen and experienced the impact 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

IMG_1973Rev. Stephanie Escher, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, lives in St Paul, MN where she presently serves as a Hospice Chaplain and engages in faith-based ministry on a volunteer basis at Hennepin Ave UMC in Minneapolis. Stephanie is a pastor in the United Methodist Church via a colorful and delightful route as a banker, IT analyst, church choir director, and keyboardist in an all female R&B band in Atlanta. Stephanie has lived in Alaska, Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Chicago and Madison, WI. She received her undergrad in Boulder, CO and her master’s degree in Evanston, IL. Stephanie is a Native American and a former pilgrim from the 2015 Camino peace pilgrimage in Spain.

“Heartbeat’s interfaith Camino pilgrimage in 2015 changed my life. It was all about exploring our diverse cultures, sharing our broad spectrum of faith and spiritual foundations, and celebrating our individual journeys as unique human beings and carriers of the divine spark, through the intentional art and practice of both storytelling and storycatching. All the while, we were moving: feet on the earth, sun at our backs, wind swirling about. Talk about embodiment; shared breath with each other and Spirit; a creaturely approach to the nuances of a struggling planet; the integration of the sacred and the profane; and practical approaches to peace and justice and good stewardship of the earth…one step at a time, one connection at a time, one shared meal at a time…and yes, even one blister at a time.”

Expectations and Requirements

  • Bring a water proof rain jacket and pants, as well as any gear needed to complete packing list below.
  • Access to restrooms will be minimal while walking – at times trees, shrubs, and beach grass may be the only available coverage.
  • While usually sunny this time of year, the possibility always exists for high winds and rain. Our group will be expected to walk rain or shine unless dangerous conditions are present.
  • The route consists of approximately 65% beach walking, 30% state park forest trail, and up to 5% roadside walking on scenic Hwy 101.
  • Some of the hiking will enter forested areas with an approximate 1000 ft climb, going up and over Tillamook Head.
  • A couple creek and stream crossings will be necessary.
  • To maximize walking during low tides, some mornings may begin as early as 5:00am.
  • Each participant will be required to sign Heartbeat’s release and indemnification waiver.
  • Each participant will be required to carry up to 3 lbs of group food and supplies in their backpack.
  • Each participant must be able to walk up to 20 miles in a day and must train for a brisk walking pace beforehand with a loaded pack.



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). You may plan to leave some luggage locked up in the 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)

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 (like these or these)

Waterproof rain jacket


Moleskin (or other blister treatment)





Laundry detergent

Toothpaste (small tube)

Soap (small all purpose bar for body and hair, if possible)

Water bottle (at least 900ml/32oz)

5 safety pins (for hanging wet laundry – sometimes on your pack while walking)

Plastic plate, bowl, fork, and spoon

Hiking towel (small quick dry)

Toiletries (optional: biodegradable toilet paper)





Pen or pencil

Necessary travel documents if arriving from outside the USA

Camera phone and waterproof container

*sleeping sheet bag liner and blanket (for first and last night’s accommodation)

*Sleeping bag and sleeping pad (for third nigh’s accommodation)

*items will be dropped at a specific site and will note be carried in backpack

Cancellation policy

A full refund is available up to 45 days before the event. After the 45-day deadline, a refund will be available if the spot can be filled.

In case of injury or fatigue

If you are unable to walk with the group for any reason, transportation to the next destination on the itinerary will be arranged at the participant’s expense. If for any reason a participant needs to leave the group, transportation to Portland, OR will be arranged at the participant’s expense. Before registering please have emergency contact and personal medical insurance information available.

Camino Interfaith Peace Pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago, Spain

 Participants for 2017 Camino Peace Pilgrimage have already been selected. Details for next year’s pilgrimage will be made available in the fall of 2017.


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Salat, Communion, and the first 20 miles

On our second day on the Camino we stop on the outskirts of Viveda in Cantabria. It’s an ideal spot for Mohamed to teach about salat and lead our group in prayer since there is a water spout for the ceremonial washing. Most of us are learning and participating in salat for the first time. As Mohamed sings the call to prayer a deep sense of reverence fills our hearts. After this first experience, Mohamed invited us to join him whenever he pauses for prayer throughout the week. There is much gratitude for his invitation and hospitality in his spiritual practice.

Later in the day we arrive at Posada Ijanas. Before dinner our Norwegian pilgrim, Annette (a lutheran pastor), leads us in a simple communion ceremony. She tenderly speaks of her love of the ritual as a way of celebrating community and a love that is as expansive as the universe.

Finally we fall in bed having walked almost 20 miles/32 km in the first two days. Already we feel the landscape begin to fill us with wonder and possibility as we walk, talk, and pray.


Mohamed leading our group in salat.




Heartbeat Pilgrimage Initiative

IMG_8579 - Version 2Over the past few decades John Philip and Ali Newell have carefully developed a model for pilgrimage which creates a dynamic environment for people to be transformed and healed. Harnessing centuries old spiritual practices from various wisdom traditions and distilling them into a week-long pilgrimage experience has been a hallmark of their ministry.

The impact is unmistakable: lives are changed forever.

The ancient practice of Pilgrimage is nothing new in the Christian Household, but a reawakening to its liminal qualities seems to be taking shape. In a world filled with the distractions of technology, horrific headlines of war and earth’s degradation, the process of leaving behind one’s comfort in search of meaning, solitude, spiritual connection, and guidance now feels more relevant than ever.  The path is clear-we must increase our awareness, empathy, compassion, and focus our energy for action. The practice of Pilgrimage can be a galvanizing event for a person intent on engaging injustice and joining a force for peace.

At Heartbeat, our finger is on the pulse of this re-awakening, and we are ready to respond.IMG_8545 - Version 2

The Heartbeat Pilgrimage Initiative

We are collaborating with interfaith leaders, activists, and educators to develop a program to train and support an entire generation of Pilgrimage Facilitators. We will be taking the model developed by John Philip and Ali Newell and offering it to qualified leaders who can then organize and facilitate Heartbeat pilgrimage events.

“We will be taking the pilgrimage model developed by John Philip and Ali Newell and offering it to qualified leaders who can then organize and facilitate Heartbeat pilgrimage events.”

IMG_7342 - Version 2

Fayaz teaching about Islam in during the 2014 Camino Peace Pilgrimage

Many of us know the impact of our journey to places like the Isle of Iona or walking the Camino de Santiago. Imagine now trained Heartbeat Pilgrimage Facilitators offering pilgrimage experiences anywhere in the world. By strategically making use of specific locations for pilgrimage, there is unique potential for these offerings to raise critical awareness and inspire– all the while equipping participants by teaching the spiritual practices necessary to sustain a life of engagement and action.

Heartbeat will also serve as a resource to these trained facilitators, offering spiritual support, a network for recruiting participants, and a base for staying connected and dreaming our way forward.

Qualified candidates selected for the Pilgrimage Initiative will learn skills to fine-tune their ability to lead prayer experiences, facilitate group dialogue, and manage the over all pilgrimage experience; including planning, navigation, and follow up.

Phase 1 of the Pilgrimage Initiative depends on three important components:

  1. Heartbeat Executive Director Ben Lindwall and 2014 Camino Peace Pilgrimage participant Fayaz Alibhai of Edinburgh, UK will lead a second interfaith pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago next year. They will use the experience to form an outline for the necessary materials for training new pilgrimage facilitators.
  2. John Philip Newell, Ali Newell, and Ben Lindwall will host a closed pilot group for the first Pilgrimage Facilitator Training in Santa Fe, New Mexico in July 2015. Additional opportunities will be available to a wider audience after this initial development phase.
  3. Your prayers and support will be necessary to make this plan a reality.

The Heartbeat Pilgrimage Initiative is an incredible opportunity to share the ministry of John Philip and Ali Newell with more people than ever before. It is a program that can serve people for generations to come. Young people are especially interested in experiential opportunities to connect with their spiritual lives. There is so much more to all of this than simply walking!

Will you join this journey?

This is the greatest task we have ever undertaken as an organization, and we need you to help take us to the next level. To make this dream a reality, we need to raise $75,000 for our Annual Fund by the end of 2014. We want to make this program accessible to anyone who is qualified, regardless of his or her financial capability. We can only do this with your help.

Please consider increasing your gift to Heartbeat this year, or making a second donation towards our vision for the Pilgrimage Initiative. Nearly 100% of Heartbeat’s funding comes from individual donations, an incredible testament to our grassroots network of support. But this also means that we depend on your generosity to move the Pilgrimage Initiative forward. Will you make a donation towards this effort today?








Checks can be made out to Heartbeat and sent to:

P.O. Box 11853
Minneapolis, MN 55411 

Heartbeat: A Journey Towards Earth’s Wellbeing is a 501(c)3 organization eligible to receive tax deductible donations.

Camino Peace Pilgrimage Photo Film

Take a look at an inspiring video documenting our 2014 Camino Peace Pilgrimage by participant Piyush Roy.

Camino Reflections from Ali Newell

The Camino pilgrimage for peace was an experience that involved body soul and mind. It was about transcending difference and yet celebrating our uniqueness. Our pilgrims were 6 from Edinburgh University and 6 the US. We were from 7 different nationalities and 6 different faiths.


gathering to share stories

Our plan was to walk 120 miles of the ancient Camino pilgrimage route along the coast of Spain, the Camino del  Norte. We each carried only what we needed in small backpacks. This journey was about simplicity, getting down to the essentials, finding out what really mattered for us, walking for peace.

overlooking the sea

overlooking the sea

We began our week with a meal where we shared our intentions and ended our week with a meal where we spoke of the blessings and insights we had received   and wanted to carry away with us to share

 Some of the intentions expressed at the beginning were: ‘to be wholehearted’  ‘to listen and develop dialogue’  ‘to grow in a knowledge of oneness’ ‘to surrender to whatever happens’ ‘to become more patient’ ‘to let go and trust’ ‘to experience diversity and shared goals’ ‘to seek stillness and be still’ ‘to “take the next step” – whatever that step might be, and to be a pilgrim’ ‘to create a living art experience which holds everyone’s intention’ ‘deep trust’

There was something about walking together that invited conversation in an easy way,  that allowed for space leading to unhurried explorations of our differences, shared visions and views of what makes for peace. The simplicity of our days meant that often it was the mundane things that connected us to each other and deepened the sense of our shared humanity as much as the inspirations:  the sharing of a good blister bandage or a helpful ointment for sore feet, the finding of a good fruit shop, the noticing of the Camino scallop shell that kept us on the right path.

pausing for lunch

pausing for lunch

It was the lunches that became a symbol to me of the way hearts opened to one another as the week progressed. We started with individuals buying bread and cheese to have with their water. By the end of the week it was a shared feast, each person offering something to the common cloth spread out on the grass – olives, cheeses, tomatoes, fish, breads, peaches, strawberries, chocolate. And we became experts in discovering local fresh Spanish foods of the area.

The weaving of our lives was through often through story telling. Each participant was given a morning or afternoon opportunity to speak from their tradition or to share their scripture, songs, prayers or story. We would find a suitable spot on the way: a cliff top, in a wood, in a churchyard, up a hill, by a spring and then gather in a circle. I found myself full of anticipation to listen and learn and always we would leave room for dialogue at the end. Refreshed and inspired we would then head off on the next part of the route

We had agreed at the beginning that pre breakfast early morning yoga, tai chi or meditation would be a good way to begin our day. On the first day the only place available was a patch of grass overlooking motorways. We learned that we could manage to make do with what was possible. I remember thinking in the midst of rumbling traffic that the daisies looked amazingly bright at my feet sparkling in the freshness of the new day.

morning yoga

morning yoga

Singing to sustain us as we walked became a wonderful way of imbibing another’s spiritual tradition. We sang, feeling the harmonies echo within us, feeling the sound of the different languages, Hebrew, Hindi, Arabic, Gaelic English, Spanish.  And if singing brought us closer together so did silence. We would have a time every day to walk in stillness, attentive to the land and to what it had to teach us about the preciousness of our planet, present and mindful of   the cowbells or the waves and the rhythmic trudging of our feet.

joining Adam and Fayaz in Salat

joining Adam and Fayaz in Salat

Early in the week we joined Adam and Fayaz in Salat. We were by a well and the ablutions in the heat of the day felt refreshing as we prepared for prayer. I found touching my head to the earth and smelling the goodness of life to be a wonderful way of expressing my surrender to the Creator of all.

For many in the group it was a breaking through into different experiences of spiritual practice and this happened as we chanted Om with Piyush, shared  Jewish Shabbat on the Friday evening with Saul, shared Zikr from the Islamic faith  moving in a circle on a cliff top on the Saturday with Adam and Fayaz or yoga with Maggie, Michelle and Laura.

Being open to other pilgrims not in our group was also important. We had always thought that if other pilgrims wanted to join us for our gathered times they would be welcome. Once a young woman walked with us and sat with us during a Torah study. Her face was a picture of curiosity and pleasure. Another time an older German pilgrim sang with us and then shared a song before she walked on ahead. Another time a pilgrim called Paloma (meaning peace!) spoke to one of us of how  she and her friends had  seen us at two albergues and watched us over a couple of nights observing our circles of reflection and meditation. The atmosphere around us had touched her, she said.

evening conversation at Paula and Rueben's albuerga

evening conversation at Paula and Rueben’s albuerga

It was half way through the week at Paula’s albergue that our discussion around the table reached a new depth. It was over difference and how we made room for each other without excluding one another. There was real honesty, tears shed, laughter and a sense of caring and compassion and everyone contributed as the different reflections speaking of the dinner  below show

……. ‘I had never before had the privilege to be a part of such an honest, challenging, and yet deeply respectful conversation. I find it’s so easy to get defensive, or offensive, and to shut yourself off to what someone else might have to say. But to sit around a table with other people who were so ready and willing to really listen and be open to what everyone had to say was an amazing honor.’

……… ‘ at dinner when members share their inner words. Almost everybody cried. I was shocked and deeply touched by the honesty  and sincerity and how powerful they are :breaking the ice. We should be very honest with ourselves and others.’

…….. ‘an incredibly organic, honest, and beautiful sharing occurred from every member of the group…. genuine community ..…It was something I knew to be possible, had sought for years, and finally felt that evening.’

…… ‘I don’t think I had ever been involved in such an honest, mind opening, heart-opening discussion with a large group of people. Each person spoke straight from their heart and it was so inspiring. On that evening I understood really and truly on a deep level how God is in everyone and that it doesn’t matter what path each person is on. I realised at the level of my heart that every human being is different, each of us is at a different stage in our spiritual growth and so no spiritual path is higher or lower than any other. They are just different paths to the same destination.’

……. ‘The conversation started due to trying to respect differences religion-to-religion while at the same time trying to respect differences within each religion… while at the same time trying to respect an individual’s life choices. It really resulted in an exposure of some of each person’s deepest feelings and troubles, and (re-)established an extremely deep trust between the pilgrims. It was hard and it was emotional, but it was certainly the most memorable moment, and the best part of the week’s experience for me as well. While it was difficult, it also made me fall in love with my fellow pilgrims.’

…….. ‘Our conversation was marked for me by deep listening and thoughtful words, by a safety for vulnerability, an awareness of our oneness as a group, and by peace.’

We had chosen not to arrive at the medieval pilgrimage destination, but to walk part of the way of the 6 week Camino together. We understood that we were not arriving anywhere but discovering together along the way,  and our way was filled sometimes with beauty and hope (Michelle was a constant reminder of that as she carried the 16th baby pilgrim within her with such joy,) and sometimes the dirt and dust of industrial surroundings  reminded us  of  struggle,  hard work,  and the environmental issues of our time.

The surprises and the spontaneous moments were part of the joy

learning new songs and chants

learning new songs and chants

A wonderful moment came after asking the pilgrims to teach each other their sacred songs or chants. Saul, a Jew from the University of Edinburgh had just taught us a song in Hebrew and we walked down a rolling hill through pastures and into a little green valley, singing and singing. At the bottom of the hill, the two Muslims in our group, Fayaz and Adam came running up from behind, their eyes bright with something to share. It turned out that they recognized the tune! In fact, the exact tune of Saul’s Hebrew chant was one that they knew very well, but with different words and in Arabic. We sensed this deep sense of connection between these three as they discovered this common thread. And as if the story was made for a movie, Piyush, who is Hindu and originally from India, also recognized the tune as it was made popular by a famous musician who spans that part of the world. All of this spoke to the Oneness for which we were walking. The power of building relationships,  the practice of walking, prayer and singing. Even something as seemingly insignificant as the melody of a song pointed us to the reality that we all come from the One.

After a few weeks the pilgrims sent in their learnings from the Peace pilgrimage:

‘….One part of the profound impact the pilgrimage had on me was realizing that I can fall deeply in love with a range of faith traditions without compromising my Christian faith. Prior to the pilgrimage I questioned whether it was possible to go beyond coexisting with multiple traditions, to a place of experiencing and loving other traditions, without watering them all down.  My answer came our first day on the Camino as our entire group engaged in salat.  Throughout the week the answer came again and again with a resounding YES!’

‘….. One of my biggest take aways, however, is my restored belief in the possibility of change. The other group members, who in their own ways are all thoughtful, compassionate, caring people dedicated to working for peace, reminded me that when we come together and actually listen to one other, great things are possible.’

the way

the way

‘….I had this notion that Christianity (or at least the versions of Presbyterianism with which I have been associated) was missing vital practices confirmed, as I looked at those around me engaged in deep personal and corporate practices.  I am encouraged to try and cultivate this within folks of my tradition.’

‘….what I wasn’t prepared for was the depth of those emotions and the reality of those experiences. That they had the power to transform oneself.’

‘….I realised that I am a very reserved person, and this has had a large impact on me. I would like to be much more open. This is something that I pledged to do at the Newell’s flat on the last day: to be more truthful with others in my life. I am going to try to speak my mind much more often, and tell people who I love that I love them! Also, I definitely rediscovered my singing voice!’

‘….I came on one of Europe’s oldest Christian Pilgrimage routes as a Hindu. I experienced the truth that I am a Hindu because I was born as one. But I could also have been born a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Jain, a Buddhist, a Sikh… and yet be No More or No Less Spiritual…& No Less Blessed a Human who completely surrenders to the Will of the Divine! It was a truly life changing experience and a heart warming journey of peace and unity in our troubled,   skeptic times…’

‘….Respecting and appreciating diversities and keeping the mind open. Gaining inspirations through dialogues and listening, Keep on exploring how religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on people, life, society and the world. I may seek a chance to do  PHD studies focusing on spiritual education and see in the future whether I can introduce such kind of program into China’                

‘….There are many ways to God as there are souls on this Earth’

‘…..That I can be true to my religious heritage and still open myself to all the others. My tradition is not dulled by an experience with another tradition; rather it is made more vibrant’

‘…..that the experience of sharing traditions, practices, hopes and dreams leads us not to a shallower, but a deeper truth.’

….. ‘One thing I am taking away are the reflections which began and ended our time together: our intentions and the ways in which we each want to be a blessing in the world. I am grateful for this way of framing our time because it acknowledges that while there is a common thread that brought us and keeps us together, we were all there for different reasons,.The pilgrimage has left me with a re-focused intention to live as truthfully as I can, to live with the bold honesty which I, and I believe our world, are craving.’

‘……I could not have imagined getting the chance to share so deeply with a group of such wonderful people. I have never before felt so at ease with people, knowing that each individual was totally accepted for who they are by every other member of the group. Everyone was different and had their own inspiring story to share and yet the bond that was formed between us was so strong. I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to walk alongside each one of the other pilgrims. Thank you!’

…….’It was enriching, it was life-transforming’

‘He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’  Isaiah 2:4



There is Hope | John Philip Newell | Camino de Santiago

By John Philip Newell

During the first week of June this summer, Ali and I walked one hundred miles along the Camino Del Norte in Spain with twelve young men and women from seven nations and six religions, praying for peace. It was an immensely hope-filled time.

Gathering at the Bay of Biscay

Gathering at the Bay of Biscay

Every morning and afternoon we would stop en route, sometimes just at the roadside, at other times perched on a cliff top overlooking the Bay of Biscay, to study one another’s scriptures and hear one another’s stories. Around midday we would stop for lunch, sometimes just clustering together on a busy village sidewalk, at other times on a wild sandy beach able to dip into the sea before eating. But what struck us most in our lunchtime sharing was that at the beginning of the week we would buy our bread and supplies separately and make our own sandwiches amidst scattered conversation. By the end of the week our purchased bread and cheese, fruit and chocolate, was being placed in the middle to be shared by all. Our simple lunches had become common feasts.

Common lunchtime feast

Common lunchtime feast

So, what is it that sets us free to share, and in sharing move from the limitations of isolation to the bounty of relationship? In our case there was a turning point. It came one evening halfway through the pilgrimage. We were gathered together around a single long table and we began, for the first time in the week, to really address some of the differences between us and more deeply feel some of the brokenness between our traditions. There were tears and there was struggle. But there was openheartedness and there was sweet mutual reverence.

I have hope for the future. It has been deepened by this experience. The hope came through the willingness of these young men and women to transcend boundaries while at the same time cherishing their uniquenesses.  And it came through the costly practice of allowing ourselves to feel the discomfort and pain of division while remaining true to the gift and blessing of relationship.

Heartbeat needs to serve this relationship between the great wisdom traditions of humanity with even greater intentionality and even deeper financial commitment than we have thusfar. I hope you will be part of this journey with us.

What Michel learned | Camino Peace Pilgrimage | Heartbeat


IMG_7375One part of the profound impact the pilgrimage had on me was realizing that I can fall deeply in love with a range of faith traditions without compromising my Christian faith. Prior to the pilgrimage I questioned whether it was possible to go beyond coexisting with multiple traditions, to a place of experiencing and loving other traditions, without watering them all down.  My answer came our first day on the Camino as our entire group engaged in salah.  Throughout the week the answer came again and again with a resounding YES!

-Michel Gribble, Camino Peace Pilgrimage Scholar who walked with our group while six months pregnant with the one who came to be known as “the 16th pilgrim.”


Portraits of the Camino

Click on images for a larger view.

Camino Prayer | John Philip Newell | Camino de Santiago

John Philip Newell describes his Praying With the Earth project and shares a prayer with fellow pilgrims on the Northern Coast of Spain during the Heartbeat/University of Edinburgh’s Camino Peace Pilgrimage.

For more on our Camino journey, follow the Heartbeat Blog.

Camino Update!

Our group has now traveled nearly 40 miles and is now foraging for lunch in San Vicente de Barquera (0ur internet connections have been few and far between!). As we pause in this village by the sea, it is fascinating to note the way the dynamics of a group form while walking an ancient pilgrimage route.    We’re learning to pray in each other’s tradition or expression of faith, we are learning each other’s songs, and we continue to move our feet together in unison as we seek to understand each other.

We have watch our landscape change from urban to rural. From highway roads to country trails. From rolling hills to distant snowcapped mountains. Always we are held by the hospitality our hosts, the barking dogs, and the common blessing, “Buen Camino!”

Because of our lack of access to internet here on the Camino del Norte, we’ll be spreading out our posts over the next few weeks while still trying to give live updates while we are still on The Way. More to come!