IMG_1647By Judy Leaver, Guest Blogger

“Oh, they tell me there’s a lily in the valley, and it’s bright as the morning sun…”*

 This past spring a disparate group of opinionated Unitarians Universalists gathered in the basement of All Souls Church in Washington, DC and began a cultivation experiment. Through getting acquainted, meditation, discussion, creativity, and planning, we gave our ‘creation’ roots for stability.

            We saw its foliage develop in Spain, thanks to plenty of rain in Tui. Early shoots popped through the ground to unfold as we made our way to Porrino. We had planted a lily of the Camino de Santiago Compostela.  For a full week, life-giving sunshine produced abundant blossoming of this flower, alongside the corn, kale, peas, beans, and grapevines in the gardens we passed along the way.

            Reverend Shana Lynngood’s songs and chants provided rhythm to our steps over the hills and valleys of rural Spain. We were careful cultivators of our lily of the camino…using the gardening tools of soulful questions, insightful sharing, quiet epiphanies, and balanced perspectives along the way. (There was lots of laughter, wine, and delicious food, too!)

            What is it we propagated?  A blossoming of memories, experiences, reflections, laughter, and song. I can still hear the trickle of water that was so common along the trail…the sound of boots and hiking sticks tapping a rhythm over ancient Roman roads and bridges, through fragrant woods, past ripe family gardens, red-tiled villages, and lovely roadside memorials to pilgrims who went before us.

            We gave this new lily of the valley what it needed, when it needed it—something that happened repeatedly for each of us individually on the hike.  We came to call it the Way of the Camino. 

            Besides that lily in the valley, we found hope, love and peace there, too. Amen.  Hallelujah!


* Shana taught us this song with the perfect rhythm for hiking:

Oh they tell me there’s a lily in the valley

And it’s bright as the morning sun! (sung 3 times)


Amen (hallelujah).  Amen (hallelujah), Amen!


Oh they tell me there’s hope/love/peace in the valley

And it’s bright as the morning sun! (sung 3 times each)


Amen (hallelujah), Amen (hallelujah), Amen!