Deeds, Not Words

Deeds, Not Words

Yeb Saño shares what it has been like to walk through the "divine and spiritual" Great St Bernard Pass of the Alps.

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Tuesday 03 November 2015 at 20:54
Deeds, Not Words

For the last 24 hours, our group has been walking up with the Swiss Alps to reach the Great St Bernard Pass. After spending the night 8100 ft (2469 m) above sea level at Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard, a historical shelter for pilgrims passing through, we're now walking down the Alps towards Geneva. I’ve had such a powerful experience here because of the Alps. Especially for people who live in the tropics, it’s overwhelmingly beautiful scenery, but also it reminds you of the powerful divine forces around you.

It’s a very spiritual experience.

Crossing the Alps represents a lot of meaningful things, including the fact that it is probably the biggest physical obstacle between Rome and Paris that we have to overcome. And it’s not just a mountain — it’s a cold mountain at this time of the year. So getting through it [crossing the Alps] in this long journey is quite possibly the most important metaphor we can encounter, in the context of the contrast related to climate change.

22726095761_f53ba946ec_kThe People's Pilgrimage on top of Great St Bernard Pass

Staying at the Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard for me was like being transported back into the past. The Great St Bernard Pass has a rich history which we were able to learn more about — it is the most ancient pass through the Western Alps and has been an important route for pilgrims in ancient times and until today.

Having now rested in such a refuge in the middle of nowhere – in the middle of a harsh environment – and reflecting on how many people have taken shelter in the same place was rewarding. The hospice is an important spiritual place, not just for the monks who live there, but also for pilgrims who stop over at the hospice. We were taken care of by people who have been running the place for a thousand years and we could feel the entire history and intense spirituality around being a pilgrim.

Staying there allowed us to get in touch with our innermost pilgrim feelings.

22093422373_1c587e19ac_kThe People's Pilgrimage with Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard in the background

A key teaching of St Bernard we learned was “Deeds, not words” and it is something I think speaks to our mission of what we're trying to do. The People’s Pilgrimage represents climate action. It represents also, in a political way, that the time for talking is long over.

The time to demonstrate the need to take steps forward in the form of many kinds of actions all over the world is now, and this is what The People's Pilgrimage continues to spread on our road to the Paris UN climate talk later this month.

Thank you for joining with us on our journey,


Photos by Alex Price; See all the photos from Rome to Paris journey on Facebook

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