A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The First Six Months; Our Collective Walk

On the First of November my daughter and I set off from Portalegre, Portugal with two friends towards our home in Castelo de Vide, 20 kilometers away. Three days later Olivia and I left our home and walked into Spain.
For the next ten weeks we made our way south, and whatever misty illusions I had about this peace pilgrimage evaporated. More often than not our days were nothing more than an unremarkable plodding forward, whether along busy highways or muddy footpaths, whether surrounded by industrial zones and rubbish heaps or the sea and mountains, whether we were given warm beds and a hot meal or huddling in a tent and eating cold stale bread and artificial cheese.
I had thought there would be more interest in the walk, more fanfare, and more people to walk with us; and individuals had been very interested in the pilgrimage on occasion, (and the Moroccan police were a bit too interested in the pilgrimage for a good five or six days) but for the most part, people have their own  moving forward to do; their own pilgrimages to walk, don't they?
After walking 1000 kilometers with me all the way to Fes, Morocco, Olivia returned home; I cried like a baby; she had been the pillar I'd leaned on and now I was really on my own. I turned that much more to God and resolved to simply keep moving forward, whatever the state of  my mind, health, financial situation, or physical surroundings. If I couldn't justify the pilgrimage with the prospect of real results, of peace petitions delivered and taken into consideration, of reaching Cairo, of achieving anything for Peace, or doing any good for anybody; when my mind darkened and turned cynical, I just arose in the morning and kept going, like a donkey driven along by a master. So at times I have walked cheerfully, knowing I am doing God's will, our wills one and the same, and at times I have walked like a dumb ass, not knowing anything but putting one foot in front of the other until the end of the day. But I have kept moving forward, and I have kept working, as we all do in one way or another. There's nothing remarkable in this pilgrimage that isn't equally remarkable in all of our collective groping forward and upward. I've walked a good 2250 kilometers so far, but our collective walking can't be measured.

So we are all walking together after all, and all of the stories I've heard from fellow wayfarers and friends and hosts confirm this. They have all made and are making pilgrimages, often pilgrimages far more interesting than one consisting of a continuous plodding along, but still not without the help of others. And all of the hospitality and kindness and generosity I've been shown confirm our collective walk, and an interest in this pilgrimage; not with fanfare but with quiet solidarity.
 I would therefore like to thank all of my hosts for the past six months, and all of those who helped me financially, and all those who gave me work, or a temporary family, or a word of encouragement, or asked me a question, or mentioned the walk to a friend, or offered a sandwich, or a bottle of water, or an orange. I would like to thank those who think about the walk, or follow its progress. I would like to thank those who have questioned the purpose of the walk, for making me think all the harder about it.
I'd like to thank even those who are indifferent, or who have shown hostility; they are all helping me along somehow (paying taxes for the roads I walk on, or keeping me from being proud.)
I would like to thank my wife, Linda, for her courage; this walk hasn't made things any easier for her (for the most part, I think.)

 Ultimately we are all one humanity, whatever our faith or philosophy, whatever our culture or nationality; we are all making pilgrimages, and our pilgrimages all have the same destination, and I thank God for helping me to know this, and for helping all of us to know this.


  1. Hi Ken, I met you yesterday in plaça Universitat, in Barcelona, remember? I took a picture and I have written a post in my 3 blogs, in Catalan (main blog) and also in English and Spanish. Should I correct anything, please let me know. Good luck!

  2. Post about Ken in Barcelona (in Catalan): http://blogs.timeout.cat/guillemcarbonell/2012/05/01/un-peregri-quaker-fa-parada-a-placa-universitat-en-la-seva-ruta-a-peu-fins-a-egipte-per-la-pau-bcn/

  3. Post about Ken in Barcelona (in English) http://barcelonaisdifferent.blogspot.com.es/2012/05/quaker-pilgrim-in-barcelona-on-his-way.html

  4. Post "Ken in Barcelona" (in Spanish) http://www.barcelonaesdiferente.blogspot.com.es/#!http://barcelonaesdiferente.blogspot.com/2012/05/un-pelegrino-quaker-pasa-por-barcelona.html

  5. Hi Guillem, thanks for the post! The only thing to correct is the date I started walking, which was 1 November. Otherwise, great!

  6. Hi Ken, thanks, I will correct it and I will follow your way by reading this blog! Nice to "meet" you yesterday. I could not stop longer because I had to catch a train ; )