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May 28, 2010

I’ve been living as a hermit for almost three weeks on top of this mountain overlooking the city of Cebu. I spend most of my time relaxing, reflecting about my life, praying, fasting, reading, editing my book project, playing the flute and violin, practicing Spanish, performing taichi, and finalizing my itinerary for the Camino de Santiago. Of course, I also run/walk barefoot 2-3 hours a day. There is a mini-forest nearby that I love to explore.

I am reading three books: To Care for the Earth (Sean McDonagh), God’s Fool: Life & Times of Francis of Assisi (Julien Green), and Wildmen, Warriors & Kings: Masculine Spirituality & the Bible (Patrick Arnold).

According to Arnold there are 2 archetypes that symbolize the male drive for freedom and can be the basis for masculine spirituality: the Wildman & the Pilgrim. The most ancient male paradigm is the Wildman which represents man’s primordial connections with nature. “He represents male earthiness, that grubby and gritty manly energy radically free.”

The Pilgrim acts out the “sacred ritual over many days and across numerous miles … recreating the essentials of his own hero journey. He has become the image in the psyche for all the leavings we must do in life, all the detaching and separation we must undergo in order to find our way again to new life, new challenges, and higher danger.”

According to Arnold, Jesus integrated in his life the Wildman & the Pigrim besides other other male archetypes. St. Francis of Assisi also exemplified the Wildman & the Pilgrim.

As I reflect on my own life I realize that I am a Wildman  and a Pilgrim at heart.

As a Wildman I have regularly set aside time to live as a part time hermit on top of this mountain for the last 30 years. I have climbed Mt. Apo (the highest mountain in the Philippines) seven times. I occasionally run/walk around Samal Island and sleep under the stars on the beach. When running/walking barefoot, I like the feel of the earth, rocks and grass which energize me. It is when I am close to nature that I can truly sense the Divine Presence.

I am also a Pilgrim at heart. I love to go on long journeys on foot or by bicycle. In 1994, I walked alone from Rome to Assisi for six days, sleeping under the stars at night. I biked for peace across the Philippines in 2000, around Israel in 2005, around Mindanao in 2006, and around the Philippines in 2008, covering over 5000 km in 56 days. A few months ago, I ran/ walked across the mountains of Mindanao, covering 390 km in 9 days. I can truly sense the Divine Presence in my long journeys.

The following months, I will once again live the life of the Pilgrim & Wildman. I am leaving for Rome two weeks from now, after a month I go to the shrine of Our Lady Lourdes in France and then do my running/walking pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, starting at the foothills o the Pyrenees mountains, across Northern Spain, and ending in Santiago de Compostela. Like St. Francis of Assisi, I would like to do it barefoot. I will also be sleeping under the stars most of the time. After the pilgrimage I will come back here on this mountain and live as a hermit for two months before going back to Davao and resume my life as a professor, and a warrior for peace, life & the environment.