Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Journey May Be Pilgrimage or Flight

Author’s Pilgrimages

Whenever I listen to Krista Tippett’s OnBeing, I’m glad that I did! This past Sunday was no different. I switched on the radio at a few minutes after 7 am and settled into the Jacuzzi.

I was shocked to hear her say, “. . .on the New York Times Bestseller list for 400 weeks!”

Author Paulo Coelho wrote Pilgrimage

Author Paulo Coelho who wrote Pilgrimage

How is that possible, I thought? One book, 400 weeks? If I could be on the NY Times Bestseller list for a minute, I’d be ecstatic!

Paulo Coelho

She was reprising an interview from 2014. Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, was her guest. The Alchemist is one of the best-selling books, if not the best, of all times!

I learned that he only became a full-time author at the age of 40, after his pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, in Spain. That’s when he embraced his desire, what he felt was his destiny, to write, after years of denial.

Coelho's best-selling The Alchemist about a pilgrimage

Coelho’s best-selling The Alchemist about a pilgrimage

His writing addresses the eternal question, “Who am I?” He says living with risk and change gives life meaning.

In the interview he said, “Every morning I find myself a different person. What makes life interesting is the unknown.”

Did you read The Alchemist?

It’s the story of a young shepherd who makes a pilgrimage. He sets out from Spain to discover a treasure. According to Wikipedia, “what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.”

I remember feeling moved by the book. After hearing the interview, I’d like to read it again. Or one of his other 30 books.

Author Sophfronia Scott wrote All I Need to Get By

Author Sophfronia Scott wrote All I Need to Get By

Sophfronia Scott

Then I went to church. The author Sophfronia Scott was the speaker. She talked about her own pilgrimage to find joy in her life.

She said we should embrace our own gifts and use them. She called herself a fellow pilgrim of Tony Manero, from Saturday Night Fever. He speaks about wanting something more than dancing, even though it gives him and others who watch him “a high.”

She finds joy, she said when, “Something like a deep river lives and flows around me. I feel closer to God.”

She asked us to be open to new experiences, new ventures, like Coelho was.

Sophfronia's novel All I Need to Get By

Sophfronia’s novel All I Need to Get By

“I encourage you to start on this journey . . . to receive your deepest desire. I hope you will have what you need when you need it,” she said.

I bought her novel, All I Need to Get By. I’m on Chapter 4.

A very full Sunday morning!

Team Refugee – Journey as Flight

Ten Olympic contenders make up Team Refugee. I found their precise competing times and info about each contestant at Quartz.

I found on the news on the BBC Sports page that the two judo contestants, both from the Democratic Republic of Congo  are already out.

The man, Popole Misenga, lost in his round-of-16 match. The woman, Yolande Bukasa Mabika, lost in her first contest.

“[Mabika] said afterwards: ‘I’m representing many nations and my victory is a victory for all refugees in the world. I lost, but I’m here. The fight did not end today. The fight is not only judo, the fight is life.'”

An article in The Atlantic gives a broader perspective on the refugee presence.

Having the refugees officially recognized as part of the Olympic Games for the first time, is “without question, a very small step in addressing the refugee crisis. But it’s a small step occurring on a big stage.”

We are in the worst refugee crisis since World War II, the author reminds us.

“In creating a Refugee Olympic Team that would be ‘treated … like all the other [national] teams,’ in having those athletes march into the Opening Ceremony right ahead of host country Brazil, in endowing that team with the Olympic flag and anthem, the International Olympic Committee has powerfully recognized the liminal existence of refugees in a world that is more than just a collection of nations.”

Do you know the word ‘liminal’? I don’t! I’m resisting the impulse to look it up, trusting that one of you, dear readers, will tell us! Maybe a contrast to subliminal – ah, yes, probably so.

How to Help?

I’m moved by reading about the refugees. I haven’t helped directly. But at least I have indirectly.

A few people from our Unitarian Church provide assistance. And we held our annual church tag sale last Saturday. I had donated lots of stuff.

The indomitable Linda Hudson organized, implemented, and cheered everyone along! She said in her Thank You email, “IICONN, the refugee resettlement group that we’ve been supporting, came and ‘shopped’ for kitchenware and bedding for the latest arrivals.

I’m pleased to know things I gave may have gone to refugee homes.

The vendor said the mushroom turns blue when cold.

The vendor said the mushroom turns blue when cold.

Blue Mushroom?

Have you ever seen blue mushrooms? A few weeks ago I bought one of the strangest mushrooms I’ve ever seen at the Westport Farmers Market. It had a mild taste, as the vendor told me.

I bought another on Saturday. This time, I asked the name and the name of his farm. He said it’s a “blue oyster mushroom,” and he’s from Pine Lake Mushrooms.

I looked these up when I got home and found them on a website called Fungi Perfecti. They say I could even grow them at home! Who would have thought!

I put part of my blue oyster mushroom in salad. I sautéed the rest with spinach as a bed for grilled salmon. Delicious!

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. Catherine — I appreciate, greatly, your theme of “journey” in this post. And, as usual, I not only learned something new about refugees, but also how to do something to help!