Matilda and the Brewsters

By Joan Doggrell

Behind St. Paul’s Memorial Garden wall is a small family cemetery. You won’t see it unless you walk around in back of the wall. This little burying ground once belonged to the Brewster family. It was located in the southwest corner of their dairy farm, which extended all the way from Roscoe Road to Highway 29. The family patriarch, James Brewster, was born in 1799 and died in 1893 at the age of ninety-four. Janett Brewster was born in 1806 and died 1862. Janett bore James thirteen children.*1

After James Brewster’s death, the surviving Brewster children – there were ten of them — sold their shares of the farm to one of their brothers, P.H. Brewster. He in turn sold it to his brother Angus who conveyed it to his son Jim Brewster. Upon Jim’s death, his son and widow transferred a large section of the property to what is now Forest Lawn Park, the perpetual care cemetery across Roscoe Road from St. Paul’s. Throughout these changes in ownership, the family plot was maintained.

Two acres of the Forest Lawn Park property were transferred to St. Paul’s in the 1960s. Because of the family cemetery, the law insisted that an attempt be made to contact the Brewster descendants. In the church files is a spreadsheet that records the attempts of Attorney Charles Latolla to do just that. In a letter to Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation in Atlanta, Latolla describes the research he has done and asks that it serve legally. The judge in the case eventually decided he had made enough of an effort to find the family and allowed the transfer to take place.

A stipulation in the transfer agreement is that the church restore the Brewster family plot, enclose it in a wrought iron fence, and maintain it for as long as the church continues to exist. In the event the land should cease to be used for church purposes, it will revert to and become a part of Forest Lawn Park.

St. Paul’s, as represented by the vestry, agreed to restore the cemetery and maintain it.

Bill Tudor’s research on the Brewster family revealed some interesting facts about the Brewsters.

“I have a book on the First Georgia Infantry,” said Bill. “In it there is a list of soldiers who served in that unit which was formed after secession, certainly after the war had started. In the Newnan Guards were four Brewsters: Blake Dempsey, Daniel Ferguson, James Pendleton, and William Brewster. Two of those four are buried at St. Paul’s, William and Daniel.*2

Another son is buried in the Oakland Cemetery. There is no indication of where the fourth of the Civil War soldiers is buried.

There are eight graves in the cemetery: those of James, Janett, and their sons William and Daniel; Lucy Ellen Brewster, daughter of James and Janett who died at age three; Sophia Emma Brewster, another daughter who lived to be nineteen; and Mary Caledonia Camp, daughter of Margaret and A. Camp. Mary Caledonia was two years old and a granddaughter of James and Janett. Seven of the graves lie under engraved marble slabs.

There is also a nameless infant whose grave is covered with bricks. And therein lies a tale.

“When Linda and I first started going to St. Paul’s,” said Bill, “the family cemetery had been neglected for a long time. There were probably seven to nine inches of leaves covering the whole area. As I was mulching out those leaves, I hit something metal. I thought the world was coming to an end. As I brushed away the leaves to find out what I had hit, I saw a small metal grave marker. It said, ‘Unknown Child.’ My mower had damaged it.

“I took the marker to McKoon’s Funeral Home and Crematory, explained the situation to John Davidson there and asked him if there was any way he could make another one. I said I would pay him for it. He came back a few minutes later with one just like it and would not take a cent for it. So I immediately replaced the marker.”

The original had been put there when “Matilda” was reinterred in the Brewster family plot. That was the metal sign that I hit. She was found around 200-250 feet from this cemetery, which raises a lot of questions. Why wasn’t she buried with the rest of the Brewsters? Nobody that I know of has an answer or a good explanation.”

Were you ever at St. Paul’s when the lights blinked for no reason or the elevator moved though no one had pushed the button? Maybe you heard someone say with a nervous goggle, “That must be Matilda.”

Well, who is “Matilda?” Truthfully, no one knows. The name was made up. Her remains were unearthed on church property back in the early 1980s.

Some people, alone in the library or the loft above the parish hall, have sensed her presence. For example, Bill Tudor gives the following account:

“Seven or eight years ago, I was up in the old choir loft, which is in a straight line, probably 20 feet from where Matilda was found. I was working alone – nobody else was in the church that day. The lights would flicker off, and a few seconds later they would come back on. Then they would go back off. I am not a great believer in spirits, but willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I just said, ‘Honey, I’ll just be here about three or four more minutes, and then I’m about to wrap up. Be patient with me – I’d appreciate it.’ The lights came on and stayed on. I turned them off on my way out.”

There are other folks who have seen strange things. One of our former priests, Father Matthew Greathouse, firmly believed in some type of supernatural being. He claimed to have seen her.

Is an unquiet spirit haunting St. Paul’s? Or is Matilda a figment of overactive imaginations? We don’t know. But there must be a story behind the pathetic little casket that contained her tiny bones.

Lee Daniel was on the Vestry back in the early ‘eighties when what is now the parish hall was being built. The building was going to be the new St. Paul’s church. (At the time, the church was housed in what today is the children’s wing.)

“There was a problem with the design,” said Lee. “The appliances for heating and cooling were to be installed above the nave, in the apex of it.”  But parishioners realized they would make too much noise during the service, so it was decided that the units should reside on the outside of the building. While digging a pit for the HVAC, workers came upon the casket of a small child. According to Lee, the backhoe operator hasn’t been seen in Coweta County since. “Apparently the experience shook him up so that he chose to move to other parts of the country!” said Lee.

The cast iron casket was small, about two by three feet. It had been damaged by the back hoe. When Lee and the others opened it, they found bones and bits of clothing.

Why was the casket made of cast iron? Frankie Hardin has a possible explanation. She met the coroner from Fulton County while attending a seminar for aspiring mystery writers. She took the occasion to tell him about Matilda and asked about the cast iron casket. He said that people in the Victorian period (1837-1901) began using iron caskets to prevent the spread of infectious disease, such as smallpox.

Incidentally, smallpox has a long shelf life. If the theory holds true in Matilda’s case, then the persons who opened the casket may have been at risk. Fortunately, there is no record of any of the participants becoming ill.

As a member of the Vestry, Lee was called upon to take charge of this discovery. “The first thing I thought to do,” said Lee, “was to call the coroner.” The coroners arrived, looked the situation over, and said, “I don’t know what to do.”

His suggestion was to call Probate Judge McCoy, who didn’t know what to do either. McCoy said to call Terry Davidson of McKoon’s Funeral Home and Crematory. The McKoon’s personnel knew whom to notify and submitted the necessary paperwork. Davidson’s advice? “Dig another hole, put it all in there, and mark the spot.”

“So Davidson picked a place,” continued Lee. “If you stand in today’s parish hall facing the kitchen and look to your right beneath the second stained glass window, you will pinpoint the spot where we dug a hole and put the remains. We marked the new grave with four cinder blocks: at the head, foot, and both sides.”

When the growing parish got ready to build a third building (the present-day St. Paul’s), someone told the current priest Russell Kendrick (now Bishop of Central Gulf Coast) there was a grave by the sidewalk that ran down to the basement door.

“I know right where the grave is,” said Lee. “Cinder blocks are around it.”

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men/ Gang aft agley. Robert Burns.

Someone had moved the blocks.

“However, we dug in the general vicinity and found her again,” said Lee. “Russell said she should be buried in the Brewster cemetery, which is just outside the wall of our Memory Garden, so that is where she is today. We didn’t have a name, so we hung ‘Matilda’ on her. And we still don’t know who she is.”

The only reason to think that Matilda may have had a relation to the Brewster family is the fact that she is buried on Brewster land, close to the family plot. Was she a Brewster? Or the child of a slave?

Could that iron casket have preceded the establishment of the Brewster cemetery? Could “Matilda” have been buried before they set up the family plot? Was a contagious illness the cause of her death and hasty burial outside of the family plot?

An occupant of the Brewster cemetery may know her real name and the story of her brief life. But unless someone finds a letter or diary with a communication from beyond the grave, we will never know.

 

Notes:

*1 “Interestingly, her tombstone reads, ‘Janett Brewster, Consort of James Brewster,” said Bill. “Where did the word consort come in? I did a little research on the word – there are different variations and definitions – a very close friend, companion. It also seems that in that period of history, if a young couple split up early in life and later one of them found someone else to marry, he or she had no way of contacting the first spouse. So it appears that the ‘consort’ was a wife for all intents and purposes: not legally, but accepted by society because there was no way to find that earlier spouse. That might be the case here.”

*2 Daniel is younger than William, yet Daniel became the sergeant-major of Company A while his older brother was still a private.

Anne Graner’s Story

By Joan Doggrell

I’d heard that the Launch Pad Library at Ruth Hill Elementary School is an awesome place, and when I visited it, I wanted to be a kid again. The large, colorfully decorated room is organized so that books, STEAM activities, and community connections are grouped together by common themes. They are organized in six learning portals: Travel the World & Beyond; Learn from the Past; Stay Fit & Healthy; Investigate Nature; Express Yourself; and Discover a Solution. And it all looks attractive and inviting.

Kids can experiment with a sewing machine, a 3-D printer, and musical instruments. They can also make movies and audio recordings in the recording studio.  They are involved with career exploration, are taught soft skills focused on professionalism, and are encouraged to create projects that impact others.

The learning portals are sponsored by community partners who supply materials and expertise. If students have a project calling for outside help, the partners are ready to supply it. For example, the Newnan Times Herald carried a story on June 9 about students making weighted lap pads that are used to help autistic children focus on learning.  The Coweta Community Foundation stepped in to help them purchase useful, quality products.

Obviously, the Launch Pad Library is a far cry from traditional school libraries. Its conception and creation are the work of St. Paul’s own Anne Graner. Anne is on a mission to empower the Ruth Hill students, 85% of which are on free and reduced lunch.  She believes that every child has the potential to succeed. With the collaboration of other teachers and community partners, the Launch Pad Library constantly strives to improve its offerings to close the opportunity gap so many of the students have.

“We don’t stop when the school year ends,” said Anne.  “For three summers, we’ve had a weekly bookmobile that reaches some of our neediest students so they can have free books over the summer.”

I met Anne at a St. Paul’s women’s retreat at Banning Mills a few years back. She took us on a “prayer hike” where we stopped and prayed at inspiring natural sights, and then she led a free-form dance that encouraged us to worship with our bodies. I knew then that this woman had a creative gift, one that could inspire others.

My own involvement with the Launch Pad Library occurred every Tuesday afternoon while students Christian and De’ Angelo filmed and interviewed me about my prosthesis. This video project ended up winning first place at the Coweta County Technology Competition.

I usually arrived just before dismissal. I watched Mrs. Graner bring her busy fifth graders, who were working on various projects throughout the library, to a halt with very few words – spoken softly. They all stopped in their tracks. They sat down together to debrief about their activities, and then were quietly dismissed. I was speechless in admiration.

How does a person become an Anne Graner? Where does that creative leadership come from?

I had a chance to ask her on June 13, when she and husband Lou Graner (more about Lou in another post) agreed to be interviewed. We began with a question:

Joan: What is in your background, or what inspired you, to develop that wonderful Launch Pad Library at Ruth Hill?

Anne: I have to go back to my parents. They were creative educators and missionaries. My mom started out teaching kindergarten and later became an elementary school principal. My dad was an Episcopal priest. Soon after they married, they went to Liberia, West Africa, as missionaries for the Episcopal Church. Mom co-founded a school there. Along with leading worship services, Dad taught courses at Cuttington College –the oldest private and coeducation university in Africa — and also served as its interim president.  I was born into this way of being: following a call, serving God and others with the gifts you’ve been given, finding creative ways to solve problems, and making the most out of being alive.

Later in life, I became a classroom teacher and noticed how much my parents’ philosophy of education and living fully influenced the type of teacher I became. That early childhood influence was a key foundation to leading me to create the Launch Pad Library.  I have found that when you observe kids and listen to them, you can get a better sense of what excites them, what they are curious about. Then you build a space and bring in resources to help them explore and become.

Mom and Dad passed away before the creation of the Launch Pad Library, but their essence permeates so much of what occurs there. I am also blessed to have the support of my husband Lou who has scrubbed floors, worked the book fair, moved bookcases and has been a sounding board for ideas and an extra hand when needed.  Our two daughters, Jessica and Lindsay, have witnessed the birth and development of the Launch Pad Library, and are excited to see how the legacy of their grandparents lives on.

Joan: Anne, any other passions that drive you?

Anne:  Yes!  I have a passion for story- for discovering other people’s stories, for documenting others’ stories with video, and for expressing my story through free-form dancing.  And I’ve always had this desire for deeper spirituality. I’ve been to the Kripalu Holistic Health Center in Massachusetts where I’ve taken workshops and trained as a yoga dance teacher. All of it was about how to access and bring alive deeper, sacred parts of me, and to learn how to invite and lead others in spiritual experiences.  It’s been a blessing to lead workshops, sacred dance experiences, and now currently, to be a healing intercessor at our church.

My passion for story led me to explore documentary filmmaking.  The training I received was very hands-on and entrenched me in the life of another. What an experience!  For someone to allow you to film them in their ordinariness and in their self-discovery was so sacred.

After the training, I was able to film other videos and created a website for these videos: http://snowpicnicfilms.com/  One of the videos features church member Billy Newman and his creative photography.  The website’s name, Snow Picnic Films, is in honor of my dad because he used to take us on picnics in the snow when we were living in New York state.

What it all boils down to is I just want to be true to my callings, to use the gifts I’ve been given, to embrace different kinds of people, and to live life fully.  Life has not always been easy.  I’ve experienced a lot of heartache.  But I continue to try to navigate all of this alongside taking time to listen, to pray, to be in nature, to create, and to just be.

How the Doggrells got to St. Paul’s

Joan’s birthday dinner, November 2017

For all of our lives, Don and I have belonged to an Anglican or Episcopal church. However, until we came to St. Paul’s, neither of us could claim a profound commitment to the Christianity that the church represents. The people of St. Paul’s have changed all that.

We were born, baptized, confirmed, and married in the Anglican Church of Canada. We immigrated to the USA in 1962, and brought our first child back to Canada to be baptized in the same church we were married in. But thereafter we became Episcopalians.

Over the years and in different cities, we have stayed connected to the Episcopal Church. We made sure each of our four boys was baptized and confirmed. However, getting them to church clean, dressed and on time was a challenge we did not always meet. I sang in choirs whenever I could. Don served on the vestry at All Saints in Las Vegas, Nevada where I taught Sunday School. We tried, but I can’t say our commitment went very deep. I was getting the college education I had missed. Don was busy with hockey and Cub Scouts and eventually went back to school himself. So for those and other reasons, church took a back seat in our lives.

In Huntsville, Alabama, where Don took a new job in 1985, we attended the Nativity Episcopal Church for awhile. They had a great choir, but no one in the congregation bothered to speak to Don. Thus we joined St. Matthew’s, a small storefront church in Madison, a Huntsville suburb. Shortly thereafter, Don went off to Saudi Arabia for four years, not an ideal place to practice Christianity – at least not openly. I stayed in Madison and donated “sweat equity” toward the construction of St. Matthew’s church building.

After Don’s return from Saudi Arabia, we landed in Dallas, Texas, where we ran smack into the gay controversy. The congregation of St. Nicholas had made it their mission to oppose the national church for ordaining a gay bishop. For the first and only time, we formally resigned from a parish. Sadly, in the Dallas diocese, there was no Episcopal church that did not espouse the same views, so for awhile we were unchurched. But not for long, as we were transferred to Atlanta within months.

In Atlanta, I joined the choir of St, Martin’s-in-the-Field, and Don attended there too. After two years, I was laid off, Don retired, and we decided to make our home in Newnan. This, at last, brings us to St. Paul’s, where we hope to stay for the rest of our lives.

We were met at the door by Dawn and Bill Harrison. I jokingly say “accosted” because Dawn tried to drag me downstairs to sing with the choir that very day. It felt good to be wanted.

Choir didn’t start off so well. The director took an hour and a half to tell the sad saga of why he was resigning. But I was not deterred. Every Wednesday and Sunday, I stood beside Dawn and followed her perfectly pitched alto notes and knew I was there to stay.

We found everyone at St. Paul’s friendly and welcoming, made several friends, and at last felt a true sense of belonging. But we didn’t know just what a treasure we had stumbled upon until Don got sick. Really sick. His illness became obvious on Christmas Eve of 2015. He was Vestry member of the day. Trying to lock up, he realized he could hardly stand. Son Jim and I helped him to the car. Fast forward to the ER. I called Lee Daniel, who called Bill Tudor, who called Father Allen. He prayed, and we all laid hands on Don. Lee and Bill stayed until Allen told them to leave.

On arrival, Don had been given an EKG. It seemed that when they found out he was not having a heart attack, medical personnel became very scarce. Allen sat with us for hours. Finally he had to leave to be able to conduct the service Christmas morning.

The wee hours got larger and larger. At last Don was admitted, and Jim drove the two of us home in a violent rain storm.

Don was diagnosed with a huge abscess in his abdominal wall. He was septic and spent the next fifteen days in the hospital on heavy antibiotics. This was a scary time for us both. But we weren’t alone. Don had loads of visitors, including the entire Vestry who left their retreat to drop in unannounced.

When Don was finally released, he was ordered to go every day to an infusion center for more antibiotics. I was teaching full time at West Georgia Technical College. I couldn’t get him there without quitting my job. So Linda Tudor organized a group to take turns driving him. Lee Daniel, Bill Tudor, John Abbey, Bill Harrison, Ron Wilson … these are names I remember. And frequent visitors appeared at our home bearing hot meals and flowers.

Don recovered, but the abscess formed again a year later. I found him helpless on the bathroom floor. He’d been there for five hours. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Lee Daniel and Bill Tudor were waiting. This time the abscess was removed surgically, and it hasn’t returned. The eight-inch incision took many months to heal. But heal it did.

I can’t possibly express the gratitude I feel for all that these wonderful people did for us. All I can say is that Jesus is no longer an abstraction for me. He lives at St. Paul’s.

The Rev. Becca Stevens’ Address to St. Paul’s

By Joan Doggrell

On May 19, a lovely Sunday afternoon, approximately 80 people gathered in the nave at St Paul’s Episcopal Church to hear from The Reverend Becca Stevens, author and founder of Thistle Farms, a social enterprise aimed to empower women who have been abused. She talked about a subject many of us would rather avoid; women who live on the streets. Her talk was anything but a downer, though; she focused on the help that her ministry offers to women willing to accept it.

The organization she founded in 1997, Magdalene, offers much more than food and shelter; it provides medical and dental care, therapy, and an opportunity to contribute to their own support and learn marketable skills while encouraging residents to leave the streets and the habits that keep them there. Resident women manufacture, package and market natural home and personal care products, everything from bug-spray to bath salts. The income from the sale of these products provides 70 percent of the support of Magdalene.

The women – they call themselves survivors — are especially proud of their candles, not only for their quality but also for their symbolism.

Ty, one of the graduates of the program, told us the women light a candle every morning for women on the street who have not found their way home yet. The candlelight, like a beacon, welcomes them home. Ty had been homeless for eight years living rough on the streets. Now, she has a driver’s license, a car (which she is proud of the deal she got on it by the way,) and has earned her GED. She is ready to live on her own with dignity, safety, and self-respect.

After hearing from Ty, Becca herself, who is also a survivor, spoke. She was sexually abused from age five. She remarked on how hard it is to talk about an abusive sexual history. Even though abuse is not the fault of the victim, there is such sense of shame and self-loathing associated with being a victim that many bury it deep in their psyche leaving their personalities less than whole.

Becca’s talk was organized around a song and dance we all associate with childhood fun: “The Hokey Pokey.” According to Becca, it was written to make fun of the “hocus-pocus” that priests appear to be engaged in at the altar. As a priest herself, she thinks the song and its history are hilarious. She also sees it as a metaphor for the healing process. She mentioned bazaars, dear to the hearts of youth and women’s groups as money makers. She pointed out that in terms of economics, they are extremely inefficient. People make things at their own expense, then sell them to each other. They might have more profitably thrown their money in a pot and saved all the effort. But that’s not the point. People put themselves into the things they make.  As the song says, they “put their whole selves in,” and that is much better than a simple cash donation.

Then comes the line, “Shake it all about.”

“The disciples went out from the Last Supper and shook up the world,” Becca said. Another part of shaking things up is letting it go, “it” being fear, anger, shame, bitterness. She told us another part of Ty’s story. Ty had been safe at Thistle Farms, working, paying taxes. Then she was arrested on an old warrant. Despite Becca’s testifying to the fact that she had turned her life around, the District Attorney made her serve a jail sentence of three years. When she returned to Thistle Farms, she just wanted to keep pouring candles and forgive. When asked how she kept up her spirit through her ordeal, she said “I knew loving friends were waiting for me.” The candle in the window was still burning.

“We must have the courage to speak of the unspeakable,” said Becca. We must shake it up and let it go.

Becca founded Thistle Farms in 1997 with five women who had experienced trafficking, violence, and addiction. Now, according to Thistle Farm’s website, “the Global Market of Thistle Farms helps employ more than 1,800 women worldwide, and the national network has more than 40 sister communities.”

A place such as Thistle Farms is “a mission with a church, not a church with a mission,” a place to “turn yourself about.”

Becca told us of an especially difficult set of circumstances in 2017, at the height of the refugee crisis, where her group was able to turn things about. Desperate women were frequently stuck in refugee camps such as a notorious one in Greece. The men would leave to find new lives in Europe, but the women and children were often left behind. Without fathers, brothers or husbands as protectors, they were vulnerable to human trafficking. Philanthropic organizations find it extremely difficult to get into such camps to help, but with financial support from Wendy Schmidt (whose husband is the former Executive Chairman of Google) Becca’s group was able to organize five women who used their weaving skills to earn much-needed money for necessities not provided in the camp, such as dental work and fresh food. They wove welcome mats from the blankets and life jackets they had used on the crossing over the Mediterranean, where so many others had lost their lives. They sold the mats, trained other women, and were eventually reunited with their husbands.

Becca quoted Jolie Varela, founder of Indigenous Women Hike, who said in an interview, “The healing of a community begins with its women.”

“Love is the most powerful force in the world because love has the power to heal,” says the Thistle Farms mission statement.

Isn’t it time we “turned ourselves about?”

Visit Thistle Farm’s website to learn more about Becca’s accomplishments, vision, and the wonderful products you can order. Oh, and you can also donate here.

Hazel Glover: Peregrina

Her Second Journey on the Camino de Santiago

Interviewer: Joan Doggrell

In April of 2019, shortly after a strenuous Holy Week and Easter Day, our Priest-in-Charge made her second journey to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago.

In a sense, she was continuing the pilgrimage she and her daughter began 5 years earlier. At that time they hiked 300 of the 500 miles on the Camino Francis route to Santiago. After arriving at the famous cathedral containing the bones of St. James the Apostle, attending the Pilgrims’ mass (complete with the giant thurible swinging incense), they were awarded pilgrims’ certificates. That year marked the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ pilgrimage to Santiago so the 2014 certificates were unique to that year. However, the most profound moment for Hazel was not the pilgrims’ mass but hiking up to the Iron Cross on Rabanal. “We arrived at the cross just as day broke. Each stone at the base of the cross represented either a person who had died or prayers for the living. The power of those prayers represented by the stones was palpable. I felt like I was standing in the midst of the communion of saints.”

“The slate trail down Rabanal was very steep and it was raining. I didn’t slip but I was so tense that my back seized up.” By the time they hiked to Ponferrada they decided that they should not attempt to conquer the next mountain. They skipped O’Cebrerio riding the train to Sarria.

Hazel was determined to go back one day and hike the leg of the Camino from Ponferrada to Sarria. She got that chance in 2019 as she and her son, Patrick, spent two weeks on the trail, picking up the trail at Ponferrada. “I was so glad I’d been there before, because I knew the lay of the land. Just showing the beautiful landscape to Patrick was fun.”

There were other advantages to making the trip for the second time. “My focus on this portion of the Camino shifted to focusing on the journey rather than the destination, walking slowly without worrying about how many miles we were clocking, sleeping 100% of the time in private pensions or hotels as opposed to the bunk-filled albergues. Martha and I were walking two to thirteen miles a day. Patrick and I didn’t walk more than four hours in any given day. I just wanted to soak it all in – which we did.”

“We spent the first night in Ponferrada, and then we began our walk to O’Cebrerio.” ‘’

From there Hazel and Patrick made their way over a lot of mountainous terrain to Sarria. On the way they visited the ancient Castle of the Templars. They spent two nights in Sarria, then took the train into Santiago, a first visit for Patrick.

“The spiritual experiences weren’t just in churches but in nature. Just hearing your footfalls on the road was holy. We walked in silence often. There is nothing to think about, nothing to worry about except where you will eat and sleep. The most difficult moments were seeing dogs and their owners in villages or along the route because my dog was at home.”

“We met pilgrims along the way, in these little cities. When we met some folks from Canada. I asked them if they were from Newfoundland where Lesley (our parish administrator) was born and raised. They replied ‘Oh no. That’s not really Canada.’”

They were from Ontario. (If you are Canadian, that explains everything.)

“Atop O’Cebreiro we met one Canadian marathon runner and hiker. He said he didn’t sleep for the first two weeks because he had stayed in albergues. The snoring and body noises combined with jet lag contributed to his exhaustion.”

Just as the Iron Cross was a sacred experience for Hazel in 2014, this year being in the hamlet of O’Cebrerio was profound. “I am still processing the spiritual impact of O’Cebreiro and the ancient church of Santa María la Real (dating from 836) on my soul.”

“We spent several nights in Santiago exploring the city. We attended the pilgrims’ mass that had been moved to San Francisco parish because the cathedral was undergoing internal renovations. To be in the midst of pilgrims who had traveled together and some who had met on the road was energizing. Additionally, we spend time hanging out in the courtyard of the Cathedral de Santiago watching as pilgrims arrived at the end of their pilgrimage.”

Patrick and Hazel arrived in Madrid on Saturday night, May 5th. On Sunday, Cinco de Mayo, they googled Mexican restaurants. “Finding one, we took an Uber into the city for a couple of margaritas and nachos.”

“I return to St. Paul’s with my heart full and my soul refreshed.” Buen Camino