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Hill Country Art Magazine Story

It may be kind of a long download but I wrote a short piece for this local magazine.

TX ARTS 12-17 Magazine Spreads

This morning I attended a presentation by a consultant for the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau about tourism – we are a ‘heavy lifter’ for such a small community – and I learned that personal, unique, authentic experiences are what millenials are looking for.  The article is of just such a concept, and what I love, too.


The Pure Aloha Oath

I found this on the wall of Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha in Honolulu with my sister Adele and Kay, while enjoying one of their shave ice concoctions.  After 200 years of Americanization, this may be all that remains of the Hawaiian culture:

I solemnly promise to live every heartbeat of my life from this day forward with pure Aloha.

Every single word that comes out of my mouth and every single action, be it large or small, must first come from my compassionate heart, and be supported by my thoughtful mind.

With an open heart and an open mind I will unconditionally love every person who crosses my path in life as a fellow member of our one world ohana.

If I truly do my best to do all these things, I will become the person I was born to be, filled with inner peace and complete happiness.

Living every heartbeat with Pure Aloha, I can bring love into the hearts of others, and make our world a better place.

Five Life Lessons to Practice on the Camino de Santiago

The Long and Lonely Road

Camino wisdom travels up and down the many Camino trails, and these are five concepts you will hear from other pilgrims. Take them to heart, for this is where change comes from.

The Camino Provides

Many pilgrims arrive on the walk after intense planning and preparation.  Others just seem to show up and start walking.  Camino forums are full of questions about minute planning and packing details. To obsess about details is to miss a vital part of the experience: the serendipity of the places and people around you. There is always a bed somewhere, you aren’t going to go hungry. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It will all work out. It may not work out like you had planned, but that is part of the magic.

A Pilgrim Must Suffer

This line from the 2010 movie The Way underscores the reality of any long walk: you will suffer. Most pilgrims develop painful blisters or muscle or joint aches.  You could avoid suffering by taking a taxi between albergue, but that would be like driving a road to the top of a mountain, not much of an experience compared to climbing the mountain on foot. Anything worth accomplishing it isn’t easy. Take your time, it isn’t a race.  You really can take a day off to recuperate, or even take that taxi sometime.  The suffering is transient, and it helps keep you in the present. No pain, no gain.

Cruz de Ferro

The iron cross at the high point on the Camino Francais is a place where pilgrims lay down a pebble in a symbolic gesture. You are, in fact, lightening your load, but that isn’t the load which counts.  Two weeks of walking brings the pilgrim to a place where millions of pilgrims over many centuries have laid my burden down. The biggest burden we all carry is an unforgiving spirit, and the person in the greatest need of forgiveness is yourself.  By the time you reach Cruz de Ferro the act of laying down your burdens will purely symbolic, because the last two weeks have already brought that to the surface. Glory, glory hallelujah, I’ve laid my burden down.

Everyone Walks Their Own Camino

It is easy for judgmental thinking to sneak into our heads. “That pilgrim is too fat to walk to Santiago.” “She just started walking yesterday, I started a month ago.” “He is running, missing the experience, he should slow down and smell the roses.” “I can’t believe she walks so slow.” Judgement is a dead-end street, and this is the time to give it up.  We are all unique, one-of-a-kind humans trying to make our way through a confusing life.  Give up they are wrong and I am right thinking.  When someone challenges you with a statement you would like to argue with, try this: that is interesting, tell me more about it. The solution to every relationship problem is simple: listen-listen-love-love.  You will learn more by listening than talking, and loving other people means to accept them for who they are.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The Camino is a time to fully experience the present moment.  Yesterday doesn’t exist, tomorrow will be its own day. Today is all we have. The simplicity of the life on the Camino will help you find this life-changing attitude.  The ego arises from our reptilian brain with lies – “you aren’t good enough, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t rich enough, you screwed that up, you are a failure, you are a loser.” You may find yourself re-hashing that bad breakup or divorce for the thousandth time. Push those thoughts right out of your head, then stop and smell the roses.  Literally.  Stop and smell the ever-present aroma of the Camino, even if it Is dung from dairy cows.  You are walking through some of the most beautiful places you will ever be. There are whole books written on this subject, read one.  Practice this in your daily life.  The ego will not like this, and keep telling you lies; ignore it, and listen instead to birds singing, breezes blowing through trees, cow bells ringing.

Some people come back to the Camino over and over again, perhaps to keep re-learning these basic concepts.  Your time on the Camino is limited, but it will change your life.  As pilgrims are wont to say – your Camino really starts after you head home from the Santiago de Compostella.

La Concha Newsletter

I have a story published in the Americans on the Camino newsletter, La Concha!

Dawning Awareness
by Robert C. Deming, Fredericksburg TX

I could hear rain through the open window, though it was too dark to make any other kind of appraisal of the weather.  I was feeling apprehensive, and I wished again for that pair of rain pants I didn’t have.  Of course there was no coffee or any kind of breakfast to delay my start, so I put on my rain jacket and broad-brimmed hat and stepped out the door onto a dark cobblestone street. I had by this time become accustomed to starting my walk an hour before sunrise, but at times the Camino seemed to be a survival exercise, maybe like one of those TV reality shows I don’t watch. My pack had a nice built-in rain cover and my boots had kept my feet dry in previous rainy days, but everyone else seemed to have rain pants or long ponchos and I just had a pair of wet nylon pants.  I walked up the hill, sort of following my German trail friends Willie and Erwin who walked so much faster than I, worrying about all manner of problems – cold legs from rain-soaked pants, the overall gloominess of the rain in the dark, and my mood becoming blacker with each step.Quickly the rain slacked off, and just as I was getting warm I came across Willie and Erwin packing up their jackets and ponchos.  I took the cue and stuffed the rain jacket into my pack.  It was still dark but not so gloomy without the rain, and my apprehension gradually subsided as the sky lightened. The Germans soon outdistanced me, but there were other pilgrims on the trail, which lightened my spirits further. To improve my mood I went to an exercise I had begun using in those quiet lonely times; I made myself aware of the world around me in every detail.  I paid attention to every sound, every smell, every sight; mindfulness I had read about but had been too busy to practice.  As the first rays of the morning sun threw my shadow on the trail, the trail turned beside the canal out of Fromista. The trees were still enveloped in mist, and there were birds singing, and it was magical.

Assaulted by the American Christmas Machine?

I went to Mexico to find Christmas, but not the Mexico of enchiladas and beaches and pina coladas and white jacketed-waiters.  I crossed the border at Eagle Pass with an eclectic group of people in a van owned by the Mision de Candelilla pulling a trailer stuffed with boxes of gifts. The destination, twelve hours further, is San Vicente, at the end of a long dirt road on the wrong side of the river. It is in the heart of the Chihuahua desert, a place too poor for the word poverty to really mean anything. The people of San Vicente live in houses strung out along a politically impassible border, people lost in the shuffle, people dealt hands of isolation and hard work and meager belongings and cold winters and hot summers and not much electricity and no phones or internet. People with little connection to the outside world.

Were we were sent on this mission by the zealots of the American Christmas Machine? Was our task to export the craziness of our “holiday season” to those dark skinned and politically unpopular people? Was our trip to make sure they said “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays?”

No, our mission was to share el amor del Dios, the love of God. Other good people bought the gifts and put them into the plastic boxes; I just helped to deliver them, one family at a time.  After each of the 35 families received their gifts we put out a dinner of sausage and beans and potato salad and fruit cocktail.  I cannot tell you what they think about the gifts or the meal; I can’t read their expressions, and I don’t speak enough of their language to count. They are shy, perhaps, and maybe they don’t know what to think about all this, and why we care, and why we keep coming back.

I keep going back because I am thankful.  Thankful that in this place I am not constantly assaulted by the American Christmas Machine. Thankful for the people in Fredericksburg United Methodist Church who thoughtfully buy the gifts and subsidize the trip. Thankful for the selfless Mision de Candelilla folks who have the connections and the resources to get us there.  Thankful for the time without connection to the outside world and for days of quiet. Thankful for the harshness of the land, the inevitable cold weather, and even for the outhouses. Thankful for nights so dark I can’t pick out the Big Dipper from the cacophony of stars in an impossibly crowded sky. Thankful to know in some way these people whose lives are so different from ours

If the American Christmas Machine is driving you crazy, support Mision de Candelilla with your time or money, be a gift donor through Fredericksburg UMC, maybe even make the trek with us next year. Whenever the assault by the Machine threatens to overwhelm me, I go back to the Chihuahua desert in my mind, and smile.

NiPSOT Strikes Again!


My latest story for Texas Hill Country.  We call them NiPsot.

Why I’m Not Writing Novels

Friends ask me often when I have another story coming out.  I do have a quarter of “Enchanted Rock White” written, and when I finish it will be the best story I’ve written. I also write for Texas Hill, Heart of Texas Magazine, Hill Country Visitor Magazine, and have a story in to Hill Country Art Magazine.

Someday I’ll do less with the non-profits I am passionate about.  Today I spent three hours or more working on projects for my Kairos Prison Ministry International team – which I serve at the John B Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas. I am also a key person with The Friends of Enchanted Rock, Hill Country Historical Foundation, and Christian Women’s Job Corps of Gillespie County.

Also, my nature is the Sloth.  I have a start on a prequel to my Awol 21 novel about an Air Force pilot, set in 1975 in Thailand, and a thriller involving a KC-135 Tanker (you didn’t think it was possible to have that big old jet in a thriller, did you?).

The Sloth will get his life together soon and get back to writing. I’m planning to walk the Camino de Santiago Portugues route in May and June of 2018, and may put some thought into a novel set there while I’m walking through rural Portugal.  It is 383 miles, so that will take a while.

Thanks for your interest and support. The photo is of me and my good friend Erwin (from Germany) on the trail in Spain in May.