Camino Countdown #5

This is the strange story about, of all things, a wallet. Now I’m not a big wallet kind of guy as you might imagine. In fact many of the wallets I’ve owned have darned near died of starvation!

But this wallet has a pretty amazing story behind it and I wanted to share it with you, because believe it or not it does connect to the Camino. The wallet in question is below:


In 2006 I had the chance of a lifetime and I took it. My sister Monica, her husband Scott and my two nephews Josh and John were going to Spain. She told me I could go if I could pay for the plane ticket. I could only stay for a week, and went for it!

On Thursday of that week we went to Granada and visited Alhambra. Among many things we saw the famous Court of the Lions. It was amazing and inspired me to, among other things buy the wallet. Here’s one of the pictures I took of the courtyard.

Court of Lions

As you can see the wallet has the lions and the fountain on it. So, like many tourists and especially inexperienced ones, I bought something pretty that I had exactly and precisely no use for. The beautiful yet sad wallet has sat in one box or another for a decade since then, never used.

But now our story changes. For my current wallet is falling apart and I don’t need to take everything I carry here with me. So I needed another wallet, a smaller one. And then I remembered the forgotten wallet. It’s some kind of miracle that I managed to find it, and am now using it as I prepare to go on the Camino.

So I bought the wallet in Spain as a tourist and now it’s going back to Spain with me, only this time I’ll be a Pilgrim not a tourist.

Who would have ever thought it?

Buen Camimo!


Camino Countdown #5

Camino Countdown #3

For those of you who don’t know much about the Camino I’m embedding below all the episodes of Beyond the Way currently on YouTube. Andrew’s point of view and beliefs are far different from mine, but he’s a great film maker and you’ll find a lot of different stories from people on the Camino.

I’m also adding a video he put out recently about funding a second season of Beyond the Way. Later I might do another post of his Don’t Stop Walking which is a guide to help you prepare to walk the Camino, which I’ve watched many times and is both funny and excellent.

If you haven’t seen these, please take the time to watch, enjoy , learn and be touched along the way.

Camino Countdown #3

Camino Countdown #2

In just about 10 days I’ll be walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain for about 12 days or so. If you want to know about what that is check out my first post in this little series.

This time I wanted to answer a question I’ve been asked several times – “Why are you going all the way to Spain to do this? Aren’t there hiking trails in America?”

Yes there sure are. But they aren’t the Camino. So here’s a few of my why and why not’s for walking the Camino.

1) Spain has nothing to do with it.

Aside from the fact that Spain is where the Camino is of course. I’m not doing this because of the great scenery in Spain, thought I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. I’m not doing this because I’ve always wanted to go to Spain. I’ve been to southern Spain and enjoyed it. But frankly I’m still amazed that I’m doing this and not spending my time in France checking out all the World War 1 & 2 history there that I’ve always wanted to see!

2) No, I’m not becoming Catholic.

While it’s true that I’ve been called “The UnCatholic Priest” for being celibate for such a long time, this has nothing to do with this as a Catholic pilgrimage. I don’t believe the tradition that James is buried in Santiago or all the other tales that have accrued around it.

3) It’s the Infrastructure Silly!

One of the reasons why I’m doing this is the infrastructure that has built up around the Camino. There are lots of small villages along the way with inexpensive hostels, etc. Most of the restaurants offer cheap “pilgrim meals” as well. It’s cheap and you don’t have pack your tent and stove along with you. That really makes this a great way to go for me.

4) Time with God.

While I’m not becoming a Catholic I do find the spiritual focus of the Camino appealing. It’s going to be (I hope) a great way to get out, get away, and spend significant time with God apart from all the usual pressures of life and ministry. I also hope to be able to have some enlightening conversations with my fellow pilgrims along the way and hopefully be a little salt and light to them.

5) Good for Body and Soul.

I first got interested in this because it seemed like a neat combination of my losing weight and getting in shape and my faith. God had helped me to get back where he wanted me physically, this would be a great goal to aim for once I hit my goal. This is the kind of thing I need to do to motivate myself to “keep on walking” and keep that weight off.

So that’s a little bit of my mindset going into this. More next time when I might just tell you the amazing story of a mysterious Spanish wallet that will going along the way with me.




Camino Countdown #2

Camino Countdown #1

As some of you know I decided late last year that I wanted to walk at least part of the Camino on my vacation this year. This series of posts will lead up to my actually doing as much of it as I can in just shy of two weeks.

What Is It?

The Camino is actually called the Camino Frances. It’s one of several routes that lead to Santiago in Spain. This tradition of walking from just about anywhere in Europe to Santiago goes back at least 1200 years.

It’s laden with tons of Catholic tradition and doctrine that I don’t believe in or agree with in the slightest. The reason people began trekking to Santiago is that there’s a tradition that Saint James ended up being buried there. The story is a stone boat showed up in Israel and his disciples put his body in it. Somehow the boat ended up off the coast of Spain and his body was taken ashore, buried and lost. Then, hundreds of years later, a man was given a vision and the resting place of St. James was  officially proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

Naturally I don’t buy any of that. But I do respect and honor those who made such a long and dangerous (in those days) pilgrimage. Whether or not you accept the tradition you have to admire their faith.


How Long Is It?

The Camino Frances (which is the main Camino – there are many others) traditionally runs from St. Jean Pied-dd-Port across northern Spain to Santiago. That’s a distance of 800 Kilometers or about 500 miles. From there you can continue to the coast and Finisterra which is another 90 miles or so.

Camino-Map 2

Why Am I Doing This?

That’s a great question, and one that I’ll answer in my next Camino Countdown! Keep watching for it and as they say on the Camino, Buen Camino!



Camino Countdown #1

2016 Raider Reunion Memorial Address

[I was honored again this year to give the address at the Marine Raider Memorial Service. Here’s the text of it, which I changed a bit as I spoke. Normally I speak off an outline but for this event I write out what I’m going to say to keep it pithy. I wasn’t totally happy with this, and thought it was not as good as last year’s address. But for posterity’s sake here it is.\

US Marine Raider Association Reunion 2016

Memorial Service Address

By Louie Marsh

Each year our Memorial Service is an important moment to not only remember our honored dead, but to also ponder the significance, past, present and future, of the United State Marine Corps Raiders.

The Raider past is forever rooted in their bloody and victorious battle against the forces of Imperial Japan. Nothing can ever change that undying record of valor, ingenuity, blood and fire that the four Raider Battalions have left for us. Likewise, nothing can change their efforts to continue to assist those they liberated from tyranny by giving scholarships, building school buildings, sending books to them and more for many long decades.

But time, even we wish it wouldn’t, is always moving forward. As the last of our beloved World War Two Raiders leave this world behind, and our new Marine Raiders stand up to take their place, we find ourselves in the midst of many changes. Certainly not everyone welcomes all or even any of this.

But we should not be surprised. Life is change of course and the Raiders have always been change agents. Both Edson and Carlson instituted massive changes in standard Marine Corps practice when they formed their battalions and this continued in the 3rd and 4th Raider battalions as well.

People tend to fight change at first and then try and take credit for it later if it succeeds. So while the Raiders were disbanded in the end the veracity of their founder’s vision triumphed as can be seen in all three of our Raider Battalions today.

So change is nothing new to the Raiders. But this change is personally painful for those of us who have lived in the shadow of family members who were Raiders and either have or are now about to depart this life.  I’m from Arizona which is famous for at least two things. One is that during the summer it’s often hotter than he – uh H E double hockey sticks.  And the second is our stunning and beautiful sunsets. As the sun drops below the horizon the sky is lit with colors of stunning beauty which continue to glow even after the sun disappeared from view.

Like that setting sun the generation of original Raiders is slowly slipping away from us.  As Paul said in the book of Acts, Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep… Acts 13:36 (ESV) Each generation has it’s allotted time and then they vanish from our sight. Most of our WW2 Raiders have gone and those who are left will not linger long. But like that brilliantly blazing star they will continue to light our skies long after they have slipped away beyond our horizon.

But now night shall not fall. For a new star has risen, and yet, it is not really a new star at all. Today’s Marine Raiders walk in the footsteps pioneered by their forefathers during the early days of the Second World War. You can call them new Raiders, or MARSOC Raiders, or even “Born Again Raiders.” But in truth they are Marine Raiders and that is enough. Indeed, it is more than enough. It ties them to the Raiders of World War Two with bonds that cannot be broken. Not simply because they are all Marines though of course they are. But the bonds of esprit-de-corps, the power of their Gung Ho spirit, and a history they both stand upon and add too, creates a continuity that cannot and will not be denied.

So while we remember and honor our dead we also look to our future. No one can predict what may come but we do know this. Whatever befalls us the Marine Raiders will continue to innovate, continue to overcome all obstacles and will continue to stand without fear or failure for our great country.

We also know they will continue to pay the ultimate price that being always faithful demands. As members of today’s Raiders join the ranks of the honored World War Two dead by making the ultimate sacrifice, this too unites them as one.

Thus we can say without fear of contradiction that in the future the Marine Raiders will continue to burn bright. Todays’ Corps isn’t the mythical Old Corps and tomorrows Raider Association won’t be the Old Association either.

That is just how it must and should be.

But as long as the Gung Ho Spirit lives the Raiders will not only survive but thrive. My father and most other Raiders I’ve talked to about it, defined Gung Ho as taking care of the man on your right and on your left.

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul taught this concept when he wrote this about the church, 24 But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25  that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (ESV)

We are all part of the greater Marine Raider family. Some, like me, because I was blessed enough to be born into it. Others, because you volunteered not only to serve your country, but to serve with the best as well. Let us remember and give thanks for our historic past, rejoice in a present fresh with possibilities, and look forward to a future bright with promise both for our Marine Raiders, their Association, and above all the United States of America.

As long as we remain faithful to God freedom and country we cannot fail. God bless America, God bless the Marine Corps and may God always bless the Marine Corps Raiders.

2016 Raider Reunion Memorial Address