Cairns: The Pilgrim’s Way

by Mary Byrne Hoffmann/Writer/Spiritual Director/Wellness Educator

In many spiritual traditions, pilgrims seeking the way walk the path — by the river, to the mountain, to the desert, to the holy spaces of the enlightened, to the breathing spaces of their own enlightenment — and leave behind stone markers to pave the way for the next pilgrim.

On this page, you will find companion seekers, writers, poets, artists, and visionaries who mark the path for kindred spirits in word and image. Some have been deemed wise by the multitudes for ages. Some walk humbly into the extraordinary from ordinary lives.

Please feel free to join this community of pilgrims by posting your own “stone markers” – a reflection, story, poem, photo – to light the way.


In the Christian liturgical calendar, this is the time of the Epiphany – the stretch of days between the Feast of the Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. Lying quietly in the dark and chill of winter, these days can seem devoid of ritual, long and tedious with the anticipation of spring.  But, ordinary time is ordained with a humble but necessary calling  – to sow the seeds that will bear fruit in the days to some.  The poetry of Howard Thurman ushers us into this season with a timely vision of the work before us: To persevere in grand design the welcoming of the divine into our human lives.

Now the Work of Christmas Begins
~ Howard Thurman ~

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman is remembered as a visionary educator, theologian, and civil rights leaders. However, he is also widely considered to be an important 20th century American mystic and prophet who bridged the connection between spirituality and social change as a necessary partnership towards the unity of all creation.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.