On behalf of the director of Administration and Relations with the Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, Ildefonso de la Campa Montenegro, we attach the following links for the streaming broadcast of the opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago which, as you know, marks the beginning of Xacobeo 2021.
The broadcast will take place live on December 31st from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Spanish time.
These are the specifications given to us by Televisión de Galicia, TVG, the host broadcaster, providing coverage which you will be able to use in different ways:
The iframe with which you will be able to embed the signal of our live broadcast on your website. The iframe itself contains TVG’s broadcast, so right now what it reproduces is TVG’s daily programming. As the event will be broadcast on Opening Day, that is when you will be able to see if you embed it (it is an HTML code that you have to embed in your website). It is the retransmission of this special programme.
I have written before and will reiterate it again, “If you want to make God laugh, share with him your plans!”
Having launched XirCammini last year, 2020 was the year when we really should have taken off in terms of local and overseas trekking. In 2019 we walked together in Malta on a weekly basis and travelled on Spanish Caminos (Camino Primitivo and Camino Inglés x 2), 5 Celtic Caminos (x2), Via Jacobi in Switzerland, St. Augustine’s Camino in Kent, UK, various short trekking trips to Sicily and also a 2-week end-of-year trekking trip in Sri Lanka where we immersed ourselves in a completely different culture. Late in 2019 we also undertook training to support the UK Confraternity of St. James with volunteers in 2020 to help run a donativo albergue on the Camino Norte that CSJ administers.
We even started 2020 well with a couple of hiking trips in Sicily.
Then Covid-19 struck!
The rest of the itinerary for 2020, i.e. Caminos in France, Spain, Slovakia, Ireland, Italy and a repeat of Sri Lanka, as well as the much-awaited Universal Peace Walk® that we had to launch in March 2020 all had to be shelved. Initial despair gradually turned to a stoic acceptance of what we could not change.. and the year ambled on.
What did happen!
2020 gave us more time for quiet reflection. At a personal level we had more time for our loved ones. We also had time to sort the wheat from the chaff and re-evaluate what is really important in our lives.
For XirCammini, we learned to adapt to the harsh reality of not being able to walk in large groups or trek overseas. It was all part of our journey and not the end of the world.
Urged people to walk solo or in small groups between March and June 2020 and posted photos of solo/small groups of a maximum of 3 persons to encourage others to follow suit;
Immediately helped to recoup and reimburse all accommodation and internal travel deposits in connection with the overseas treks. All were 100% reimbursed thanks to the goodwill of the overseas partner organisation with whom we collaborate;
Re-commenced weekly groups walks with a bang in June, attracting between 50 – 100 people per weekly walk. Managing these, with leaders and sweepers, were a challenge but they prepared us for what followed and gave us the nucleus of leaders for when Covid-19 proverbial hit the fan again.
Re-0rganised in eight groups of 10 people each (maximum 80 people) with 8 different routes each Wednesday between July until October, following strict Covid-19 protocol. Despite it being summer the concurrence was very high. People were committed. We managed this thanks to the commitment of the leaders that helped in the planning and led small groups every week.
Continued to provide route advice when the groups of 10 had to be disbanded (6-person limit imposed).
We are encouraged by the fact that people have continued to exercise in fresh air in the company of others and this has proven to be therapeutic during these times of increased stress.
In this respect, XirCammini continues to reiterate that it is not an exclusive group. On the contrary, XirCammini has proven to be a movement urging individuals to walk (whether alone, with us or with others) and also urging others to start leading walks.
Something that really shone through 2020 is a spirit of positivity and altruism.
Your Generosity: Our Greatest Achievement in 2020
Although the above required planning, effort and commitment, our greatest achievement in 2020 was harnessing the generosity of XirCammini members and friends over the last few weeks.
For this I wish to thank John Darmanin and John Chircop for driving the ‘Lend a Helping Hand’ Initiative and for the Committee’s counsel. But mostly I wish to thank all of you who donated freely towards this worthy cause, including also the volunteers who helped in each of the collection points and in delivering the goods to the inner-harbour parish.
When grace flourishes it does not rain; it pours. Not only did we fill the parish office but also most of the stairwell of the office. I personally fought back tears when we delivered the goodies, overwhelmed by your generosity.
.. and it does not stop there. Gifts keep on coming in. A pharmacist calling to deliver more boxes, a baby products/clothing firm filling 2 of our cars with an assortment of items as we ponder who best to donate to.
The words, “Thank you” are a very poor vehicle to express the gratitude welling up within.
2021: .. the journey continues
When measures relax again we hope to re-introduce the weekly walks as well as roll out an itinerary for overseas trekking, air-travel permitting. For example, we are keen to walk the Tochar Phadriag for the feast of St. Patrick or trek the Cork Peninsula to Gougane Barra over the Easter Recess and undertake Caminos in Spain and more Celtic Caminos after that. But it all depends on how the situation vis-à-vis, vaccination, air travel and people’s perceptions continue to unfold.
Famous last words: It’s never about the numbers or the destination. It’s all about the experience of the journey. Keep walking | keep smiling | keep safe.
Quoting Pope Francis, “one of the most needed virtues of modern time is hope.. no matter how hard life gets; this is often expressed in the simple act of a smile.”
Misfortune does not rest. It is seemingly unaware of Christmas recess or Summer break.
We know this all too well from the Covid-19 experience that spread relentlessly across the world.
Because most of us have had it relatively good for so long we may have moaned at our “mis-fortune”, perhaps not understanding that at the end of the day misfortune is relative.
We often need to look outside of ourselves to realise this. Nothing brings this point home more than a post from our friend and fellow hiker Carmel (https://www.facebook.com/carmel.pace.73/posts/10213892387183474) who in March 2020 lost his wife and everything else except the clothes on this back and nine months later there is no equitable end in sight. There are other severe personal misfortunes that hit close to home such as illness, death, loss of employment of a main bread winner, insolvencies and so on that make most of our “woes” pale in comparison.
We are our own enemies when we do not look beyond ourselves and be the change this world sorely needs.
“Lend a Helping Hand”: Looking outside ourselves
In the words of Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
And in Mother Theresa’s words, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
We may not be able to individually change the whole world but we can change the world of a few individuals around us.
Within this spirit, XirCammini has launched the “Lend a Helping Hand” initiative for this Christmas:
In a nutshell, we are asking our XirCammini community and their friends, to put together a basket with 5 items, i.e. tinned food item and dried food item, a prepared beverage (excluding alcohol and soft drinks), an item of toiletry (or feminine hygiene) and a Christmas goodie.
We are not stipulating how much one should spend on putting the basket together (“il-qalb kollox”). Our only request is that in each bag, we have at least one of each of the above items.
These will be donated by XirCammini on behalf of all donors to one of our inner harbour parishes who run a food bank for the less fortunate in our society. We may not be in a position to bankroll banquets, but we will collectively put food on the table of (and Christmas goodies to children) who otherwise might go without.
We have organised 5 “drop-off” points for 12th December between 10:00 and 12:00 as follows:
Ghajn Dwieli Car Park – John Darmanin 99476595
Pembroke Parish – John Chircop 79618619
Xemxija Kiosk Car Park – James Portelli 79046942
Ta’ Qali Car Park (opposite US embassy) – Mark Mifsud 99440318
Conclusion: Advent | Anticipation
Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of anticipation. The anticipation of Christmas. A time of goodwill.
For those who believe, Christmas finds its fulfillment in Easter which, in turn, is meaningless without the rite of passage of Good Friday.. the ultimate act of giving. So, in a nutshell, Christmas derives its substance solely and directly from an act of selfless giving. And, in giving, we receive.
There is no grey area around this: Christmas is all about giving. The rest is only wrapping and without it, all the lights, colour and noise would be meaningless.
“ We can change the world one thought at a time, one child at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time, one city, one state and one country at a time,” Bryant McGill.
And in Dillon Burroughs, “God is calling you to change the world one life at a time and one small step at a time. Begin today where you are.”
The following is a translated excerpt from the latest meeting (25th June) of the Jacobean Council regarding re-commencing the Camino.
“The Executive Commission of the Jacobean Council held its second meeting on June 25 during the health crisis with the aim of preparing the Camino de Santiago before its re-activation in the “new normality”.
The importance of offering the pilgrim information on the new situation of the Camino de Santiago during the health crisis was one of the prevalent conclusions of the Commission.
Recommendations for the Camino de Santiago during the health crisis COVID-19
The Jacobean Council includes in this section all the recommendations that may be useful for pilgrims and all agents of the Camino de Santiago during the health crisis with the aim of minimizing the risks of contagion. The fulfillment of all these recommendations will contribute to allow the continuity of the Camino during the duration of the pandemic.
It is necessary to take into account that, in the state of new normality, each Autonomous Community can establish its own rules regarding capacity restrictions, group activities, public transport, etc. which can be consulted in the links in the right column.
If you are thinking of doing the Camino, download these tips to help you on your pilgrimage:
Where in doubt please always err on the side of prudence. The Camino has been with us for centuries and will be with us after this episode. Life is more fragile.
The Camino has been with us for centuries and will be with us when Covid-19 is over. Our life is more fragile. We can wait out this episode in our life and walk the Camino again when it is safer and more feasible to do so.
“The Jacobean Council recommends not doing the Camino de Santiago until all its sections are in the so-called new normality.
Mobility is one of the most complex aspects of de-escalation due to its direct relationship with the probability of contagion.“
This is the 8th update in our Covid 19 announcements to XirCammini Members.
There is finally light at the end of the tunnel and we have now reached a phase where – with caution and discipline – we can again walk together again.
Our underlying advice remains, “act sensibly | exercise discipline | carry on while respective directives.”
Local Trekking | Health Directives
I am pleased to announce that, following today’s briefing by the Superintendence of Health, we will resume Wed Walks from Wednesday 10th June 2020. An event will be posted shortly on the XirCammini FB Page and shared with the XirCammini Group on FB.
We will advocate the following rules for those who wish to join us please:
Do not hike if you are sick, running a temperature, have a cough, or experiencing trouble to breathe;
Do not hike if you or persons close to you have recently (i.e. during the last fortnight) returned from overseas. You should be in quarantine;
If you meet any one avoid any form of physical contact with others (i.e. shaking hands, hugging, kissing etc.) and try to maintain the 2.5-metre physical distance advocated by the government directives;
Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Carry and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, tissues, and other hygiene products constantly on a trek;
Use soap and water if hands are visibly dirty;
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
Overseas / Major Trekking Events: Jan – Jun 2020
As informed earlier, all our overseas trekking event up to and including June 2020 have been cancelled. All members should by now have been reimbursed any deposits paid. If not please let us know.
No member should have been left out of pocket.
Regarding the Aug to Dec trips we are still waiting to see how circumstances continue to unfold. We are currently in a situation where (a.) flights will resume from Malta to pre-determined ‘safe corridor’ countries (b.) not all of these ‘safe corridor’ countries have by now lifted restrictions and/or removed quarantine (c.) some accommodation providers have decided not to re-open as yet and are waiting for the phased road-map in their country to unfold.
So, in short, we’ll continue to monitor the situation and will revert. Notwithstanding this, if you had paid a deposit for any of the XirCammini overseas trips for later on in the year and – for whatever reason – you wish to withdraw we will return your deposit. We can travel and walk together again in the future when it suits you and you feel safe to do so.
Conclusion: Thank You | Be Respectful
I will end with the ‘thank you’ note and a word of caution that I generally started our Covid-19 briefings with:
Thanks: We want to thank all the healthcare professionals, paramedics, disciplined forces, volunteers and all those engaged in the effort to halt and or heal. Thank you. Thank you also to every one rose the occasion and identified ways and means to be of help to others in this hour of need.
Caution: For those of us accustomed to trekking we know that a descent is generally trickier than an ascent. If the transmission phase was a hilly ascent of directives and new behaviour, exiting the Covid-19 emergency phase is our descent. If we do it recklessly or without due caution we risk breaking a leg (or worse still our neck). A word of caution to everyone: directives and guidelines are there to protect us. Please continue to cooperate.
In all that we do and from all walks of life let us be respectful to each other at all times.
Some circumstances in life tend to bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. it is worth remembering that:
If / when you are visible your words and actions influence others. Be judicious in both.
Prejudice brings out the worst in people. Hindsight generally teaches us that we are generally always in the same boat or journeying the same road albeit at different junctions, brigdes or thresholds at any point in time. Be patient and understanding with others.
Unfortunately social media has replaced the soap-box and created multiple mutations of preachers who with evangelical zeal spout or advocate hell’s fire and brimstone at /for anyone who dares disagree with their point of view even on mundane matters. Bad as Covid-19 may be there are worse viruses infecting some of us such viruses as prejudice, gossip, bigotry, conceited self-righteousness and so on. Be kind in silence. After all it is our actions (not our words) that speak most volumes.
Life is a journey | keep walking | keep smiling | keep safe | keep calm | act sensibly | exercise self-discipline and carry on.