Interfaith Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage

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

Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage: A Walk With the Earth

September 15-19, 2016 | North Coast, Oregon USA

The NW Coastal Pilgrimage is an experience for grounding in contemplative practice, reconnection to the earth, and learning from the early Celtic Christian world through the writings of John Philip Newell.


REGISTRATION IS FULL. To be added to the waiting list, please sign in here.

Walking 40 miles from Astoria to Oswald State Park in Northern Oregon, this pilgrimage will traverse seaside foothills, sand dunes, and many miles of picturesque 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 some roadside walking (depending on the high tides).

Included in the registration fee 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 not available on the third night). Most of the meals will be prepared by the group (gluten free and vegetarian options available upon request).

Through John Philip Newell’s writings we will learn about the early Celtic Christian world and explore themes of interrelatedness, connection to earth, and the sacredness of all things. A copy of The Rebirthing of God will be provided as an introduction. Our days will begin with morning prayer before settling into a rhythm of sharing meals, holding space for contemplative practice, group discussion, and walking.

Registered participants will meet in Portland, OR at 12pm on September 15. 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 at Oswald State Park and we will shuttle back to Portland, OR on September 19, returning around 11:00am.



photoThe NW Coast Pilgrimage is led by Ben Lindwall, Executive Director at Heartbeat. Ben lives in Portland, Oregon USA where he and his family are caretakers in residence at the Arbor Lodge Urban Farm. He has been leading group experiences in various capacities for over a decade. Ben has been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell over the past few years 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 for 12 years 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

Additional expenses and expectations

  • Any gear needed to complete packing list.
  • Access to restrooms will be minimal while walking – trees, shrubs, and beach grass may at times 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 60% beach walking, 30% state park trails, and up to 10% roadside walking on scenic Hwy 101.
  • Some of the hiking will enter forested areas with steep ascent/descents.
  • 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 purchase travel insurance and provide proof of coverage prior to departure (check out some of these different options).
  • 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 15 miles a day and must train 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)

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 clothespins

Plastic plate, bowl, fork, and spoon

Hiking towel (small quick dry)






Pen or pencil

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 insurance information available.

REGISTRATION IS FULL. To be added to the waiting list, please sign in here.

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.

A Conversation with Heartbeat Pilgrimage Scholar, Brother Timothy Joyce

Brother Timothy Joyce, of Hingham, MA is a Benedictine monk at Glastonbury Abbey. He was one of the first recipients of Heartbeat’s Pilgrimage Scholarship Award and consequently made the journey to the Isle of Iona for a retreat with John Philip Newell last month. “I have recently celebrated my 80th birthday,” he told us, “I want to mark this rite of passage in my life with an experience such as Iona. I have led Celtic Spirituality retreats and workshops. I want time and space such as the Isle of Iona, with its natural beauty, can provide. I am learning more about myself as well as God, the Christ, the meaning of life in an evolutionary world. Closeness to nature has become very significant in my search.”

Why did you want to go to the Isle of Iona?

I was looking for a place in nature for a retreat to mark some important passages in my life. The opportunity to go to Iona seemed like a providential call. This had been a sacred place on my previous visits and I relished the time and space to pray, reflect, celebrate.  I had also read John Philip Newell’s works and resonated with his teachings.

Br. Timothy Joyce at the Nunnery Ruins on the Isle of Iona.

Br. Timothy Joyce at the Nunnery Ruins on the Isle of Iona

The opportunity to go to Iona seemed like a providential call.

What stood out to you about the experience?

It was a total, embracing experience. Truly a thin place, Iona is a sacred environment – the land, the air, the sea, the abbey church. Then there was this group of 36 wonderful people who were caring, supportive, loving and very open. The meals, the talks,the hiking together, the prayer times in the abbey church were all  joyous encounters with God and each other.

How did the experience impact you?

I believe I came away with a little more urgency of living and spreading the gospel message in all its social dimensions.  I also may be more free to speak and live this message.

Anything else you want to share?

I am truly very grateful for this rich opportunity. It was more than I had hoped for.
Overlooking Columba's Bay

Overlooking Columba’s Bay



Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey

The Antithesis of Terrorism

DSCF3960by John Philip Newell

In 2007 there was a terrorist attack at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland. Ali and our younger son, Cameron, were traveling that day.They arrived at the airport just minutes before the Jeep that had been packed with explosives drove through the front window of the terminal and burst into flames. If they had arrived a few minutes later, they would have been checking in at exactly that spot in the airport. As it was, they were inside the terminal getting close to the ticket counter. Then suddenly in front of them hundreds of people were running in the opposite direction. Ahead of them they glimpsed the Jeep and one of the terrorists on fire.

 “I was listening for the moment of explosion. I was trying to decide when to throw myself over Cameron.”

People were desperately running to get away. Our son- in-law Mark was with Ali and Cameron. He had taken them to the airport and was helping with their luggage. He said, “Drop your bags. Run.” As the three of them ran, Mark, in later recounting what was going on in his mind, said, “I was listening for the moment of explosion. I was trying to decide when to throw myself over Cameron.”

This was not Mark boasting. This was a candid, straightforward expression of his heart. He would not put it this way because he does not claim to be religious. But for me this was an expression of the heart of God. It was an expression of the true depths of the human soul. Deep within us is the desire to love.

click to order

click to order

In the end, the explosives did not detonate. Scotland was spared the sort of carnage that many places in our world are subjected to on a regular basis. How can we be part of transformation in our world so that such acts of terror do not pull us further apart? For us as a family, we will always remember Mark’s willingness to risk himself for Cameron. It was the antithesis of the fear and hatred that motivated the bomb plot. How can we nurture the willingness to sacrifice? In other words, how can we nourish the desire to love, a desire that is within us all, although often confined to the smallest circles of relationship and family, yet a desire that can be equally although more challengingly applied to broader spheres of relationship in our world? There are many stages to transformation, including the detailed deci- sions of how to reenvision and restructure the relationships of life, whether between nations and species or between individuals and communities. But unless there is a willingness to be compassionate and to bear the cost of love, we will move nowhere except into further separation and division.

 A New Harmony (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco) 164-165. 

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.

Conversation with Camino Scholar Karin Baard

Karin Baard

Karin Baard

Heartbeat: What is something you learned on the Camino?

Karin: I think the impact of this pilgrimage will continue to develop and reveal itself for a long time, which is, in itself, a gift. Though I can feel (and I feel it profoundly) that it has had a deep impact on me, I’m finding it difficult to articulate. 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.

Heartbeat: Before embarking together on the Camino, we each shared our own personal “intention” for our week of walking. What did you share?

Karin: My intention presented itself in one word: wholeheartedness. When asked, it was the first thing that popped in my head; but I also wasn’t sure what it meant. I discovered some about what it means to me throughout the pilgrimage, but to be honest, I’m still exploring. What I did realize is that, for me, wholeheartedness means an interlacing web of things: finding the balance between my head and my heart, embracing vulnerability, and slowing down to, as best as possible, live in and enjoy the present moment.

Heartbeat: What was your most memorable moment?

Karin: My most memorable moment was our dinner conversation on Wednesday, which is inextricably linked to the best part of the experience: the other people on the trip. 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.

Heartbeat: Can you tell us about the biggest challenge for you on the Camino?

Karin: My biggest challenge actually came before the trip even started. I was nervous ahead of time, feeling under prepared (both physically and mentally) and worrying that I did not belong on a pilgrimage. I was afraid that everyone else would be so enlightened and spiritual, and I would have nothing to contribute to the group because in recent years, I have had many doubts and questions about my own spirituality and faith background. Thankfully, I realized quickly, that these worries were actually a significant part of what I could contribute and why I think I was meant to be on this trip.

Heartbeat: Any other comments or thoughts?

Karin: I want to thank, with the deepest gratitude and appreciation, Heartbeat for not only the opportunity to go on this trip but also for all the hard work, dedication, and detail management that went into it. As well as Ali and Philip for donating their time, thereby giving us all such a wonderful gift. I will hold onto this trip for a very, very long time.

IMG_7448Karin Baard from Brunswick, Maine is an advocate for women who are victims of domestic violence. She helps “clients discover, or rediscover a sense of peace in their lives, both physically from harm and emotionally from heartache.” Karin is fluent in Spanish and was an incredible blessing to the group as she tirelessly helped us navigate roads, meals, and anything else that arose. 

Unpacking the Camino

Fifteen of us from multiple faith backgrounds walked together with John Philip and Ali Newell for seven days on the Camino de Santiago. It’s difficult to avoid hyperbole while reflecting on such an epic experience. The impact is felt on so many levels: physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. And that’s the beauty of pilgrimage– it engages your entire being.

Over the next few weeks the Heartbeat Blog will be dedicated to introducing you to our pilgrims and sharing about our journey. We have poetry, prayers, stories and some brilliant photographs. Thanks for coming along!

Ben Lindwall, Executive Director, Heartbeat



Light within all light

Soul behind all souls

at the breaking of dawn

at the coming of day

we wait and watch.

Your Light within the morning light

Your Soul within the human soul

Your Presence beckoning to us from the heart of life.

In the dawning of this day

let us know fresh shinings in our soul.

In the growing colours of new beginning all around us

let us know the first lights of our heart.

Great Star of the morning

Inner Flame of the universe

let us be a colour in this new dawning.

 John Philip Newell, Praying with the Earth