This book is a collection of poems written as I walked the 500 mile Camino de Santiago Frances in September and early October of 2014. At the top of each poem I recorded where I had been walking when I wrote or started the poem. So in a sense this book is a poetic travelogue of my pilgrimage along the Way. Like others I met during my journey, I often asked myself why I was walking this ancient path. The Way for me is a mystery and yet an answer to many of the questions about life I have puzzled over. These poems are a record of my physical, emotional, cultural and aesthetic experience as I walked. They are also a spiritual inquiry into the nature of being human-a physical, thinking being, walking with others from different backgrounds on a pilgrimage where each day opens onto a new experience. Since much of my time each day was spent walking by myself, I had an opportunity to practice some of the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and silence and interconnectedness with the natural world. Because it was autumn, many days I gleaned blackberries, grapes, apples, figs, peaches and other fruit and chestnuts along the way. It meant that my attention was focused on the abundance of this earth instead of on my narrow self and its minor concerns. My attention often fell on butterflies, snails, anthills and the abundance of rocks. Part of the Camino traverses the part of Spain called the Meseta, high plains area dominated by vast fields of wheat. Here emptiness and silence became an opening, a recognition that we are held in a space that extends beyond all we can imagine. The expansiveness and abundance of this life were frequent subjects of these poems as they were for earlier pilgrims who walked from churches to cathedrals to Santiago and beyond to Finisterre.
Poetry has been an essential part of Newton Smith's life for more than fifty years. He has published widely in literary magazines beginning in the 1970's, including Southern Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly, Ann Arbor Review and others. His most recent poetry publications are in the Asheville Poetry Review, Rivendale, Main Street Rag, Pisgah Review, and Jonah. During his 2014 pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago he wrote a poem everyday reflecting on the physical body, nature, and the spiritual as he walked along the Way.