The Sister Clare wash-up…

I have to admit the whole Sister Clare episode took a big toll on me –

I’m sure it took a bigger toll on her.

It was all so unnecessary.

It was unnecessary for her to lie to me, it was unnecessary for her to try and manipulate me into believing her increasingly irrational story, and it was completely unnecessary for her to use her vows as a nun, and hence her relationship with the church and with God, to justify her position.

On my part, it was probably unnecessary that I publish the whole thing. I could have swallowed it. But I did feel a responsibility to you people on this blog. Particularly those who had given or pledged goods to her for the tour.

Also, when she started to secretly email some of you on this blog, and put her side of the story, I felt then it was important that BOTH sides of the story be revealed, so that you all could make a fully informed decision as to her credibility.

All that said, the whole thing made me sick to the stomach.

At a time when Jennifer and I were travelling overseas, it made me feel depressed and very melancholic. And it also chewed up a huge amount of time – time that could have been better spent doing happier things. 

I had trusted her – as you all had.

Why did she do it? Only she knows. Was she seeking love? Attention? Sympathy? Or was it a devious ploy to try and elicit some money from me?

Who knows? Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above.

But that’s just speculation.

I offered Sister Clare a guest post so she could put her side of the story, but I haven’t heard back from her. I prompted her with an email yesterday, to remind her that she had a guest post available whenever she wanted – and I gave her an undertaking I would not edit what she wrote, nor would I make comment.

Still nothing back from her.

Has the episode tarnished, tainted this blog – as some of you privately have suggested?

You tell me.

I must admit, I’ve been seriously thinking about shutting the blog down, particularly when I get idiots like this cowardly “Satan” making jibes at me. But if I did that, then I’d just be letting the “Satans” of the world win.

I wouldn’t want that.

Despite all this, I have enormous affection for Sister Clare, still – and I can only think that the reason she did what she did was because she must be in enormous pain.

She does have a severely handicapped son, and very few of us would truly know what kind of pressure that places on someone. Every day must be emotionally draining. 

If Sister Clare’s stories about her background are to be believed, then she too has had a very tough life. Again, that can manifest later in behaviour outside the norm.

So I guess what I’m saying is that there are factors at play here that I’m not fully privy to, and that’s why I make no judgement of Sister Clare, and that’s why I have forgiven her.

I do implore her to come back to this blog, because if I can forgive her, and if some of you can forgive her too, then there will be some upside to the trauma and ugliness of what happened…

That’s what I look for in all this – a way for me to grow as a person. Already she has provided me with that opportunity, and I hope to learn more from her too –

She came into my life for a reason. I’m still not sure what that reason is…

Bill Bennett.

74 thoughts on “The Sister Clare wash-up…

  1. I am truly hoping that you NEVER end this blog. I think about all things “Camino” everyday and your blog is a big part of keeping those wonderful memories alive. I haven’t caught up on all the posts I missed while walking the Camino but I am always smiling reading your funny posts and agree on many of your frustrations. I too, remember the frustrations with it being 90 degrees and getting ONE ICECUBE! You received a royalty check just after booking your flights that paid for the tickets. I too got a check I was expecting. It was a pension check from being a volunteer firefighter for 16 years back in the 70’s and 80’s. Wasn’t aware of it and it paid for the tickets and some equipment.. Many more of your stories remind me of similar situations I encountered on the Camino. I just can’t imagine not being able to read your thoughts everyday. The Sister thing was unfortunate but we can all get past this and get back to our happy little Camino family.
    Like the sign on the Camino of “Don’t stop walking” please don’t ever stop writing this blog. You make a lot of people smile.


    • Well thank you Lynda for saying that – sometimes I write and have no idea if there’s likely to be any connection – whether it has any relevance – and hearing this from you gives me heart.

      Again, thanks.


  2. Forgiveness is the greatest of all the spiritual principles Bill. Nothing else can give us the freedom from self that we need. Whether she goes there or not is not relevant really – we forgive to let the poison of resentment drain from ourselves. After all isn’t resentment just drinking poison and expecting somebody else to die? Good for you my friend – it’s really hard to put yourself out there in the public forum as much as you are, and hard not to take things personally. Keep believing and doing the next right thing – all will always be well.Good Luck, Tim


  3. I would be very sad if you shut down the blog, Bill. Even though I have never personally met anyone on this blog, I feel a kindred spirit with many who post here. One bad experience should not be allowed to taint the positive. Too many good people on this blog to let that happen. I hope everyone keeps posting. That is how healing will continue. Julie


    • You’re right Julie. Thank you. I hope people keep posting too – the underlying figures on this blog aren’t huge, but they’re consistent. In other words there is a community here that stays here pretty much day to day. Which for me is scary…



  4. Bill
    I think you can see from the above posts we all would miss the blog if you stopped. Most of us haven’t met any of the others but we all feel like family or Camino family. I am oin to follow your day and go out for a walk.


  5. Bill – I hope your walk went well! If my reply is duplicated (my first attempt went astray), please delete one.

    I also hope you don’t mind my putting forth some ideas in case you feel that a change of some sort is necessary for your own piece of mind. Please don’t take these ideas as criticism or dissatisfaction with the current blog, or me trying to tell you what to do. There is rarely a single “right answer” to complex situations.

    Sister Clare’s silence might simply indicate that she has gone offline for a period, while she works things out. That could be a very reasonable approach for her. She might even have deleted accounts in order to avoid the temptation to lurk. Hopefully she will consider connecting again in the future. That would be a good reason for you to keep the blog in some form, for her to come back to.

    In the time before the recent debacle I made some cranky comments about the so-called safety of the blog. Truth was that I felt insecure because everyone else seemed SOOOO nice, accepting, patient, kind and generous, whereas I knew that some of my worst faults are in those areas. I hate sugar-coating and superficial praise so much that I sometimes go overboard in the other direction.

    I expect that you have considered various ways to modify the blog/forum. You did ask for suggestions, so I’ll offer some for your consideration…

    You could keep the blog for your lengthy and interesting posts – that is where a blog shines – and it is an opportunity for the whole world to participate. You can control the posts and the comments. Then use the more private PGS forum for informal exchanges and more opinionated comments that are better suited to a “safer” place. You could post a sticky on the blog inviting people to introduce themselves and “apply” to join the separate forum. Then, forum members could even initiate threads. Maybe that is what you had in mind for the PGS forum, anyway.

    Alternatively, would the regular contributors be interested in a private group on Facebook? I have one with my extended family (20 members), which is a great place for the cousins in far-flung places to keep in touch privately. Some of the family have Facebook accounts only for that limited use.

    However, I am also aware that having a separate more private group would lose some of the spontaneous beauty of the open blog. Also it might create more work for you. Whatever you decide to do, I will support it. I hope that you keep something going and that I can participate.

    – The Other Clare, going out for a walk now, too.

    (I am calling myself that just so that readers won’t get excited and think that I am Sister Simon Clare, having come back to participate.)


    • Thanks Clare for these thoughts.

      I must admit the forum has been largely inactive in recent times, in part because I’ve been so busy doing other things, and already the blog takes up a fair bit of my time. It’s not so much the writing and publishing of a post – although sometimes those longer ones do take several hours to get right, and for me to properly prepare the photos – but responding to comments too takes up time.

      I’m not complaining – it’s just a fact. I figure if someone takes the trouble to post a comment, the least I can do is respond. Sometimes the comments aren’t directed at me, or refer to me, and so I let those go – but I do like to respond to those that do post a comment.

      (I apologise to those that I miss from time to time – I do try and keep up, but sometimes I miss some… it’s not that I’m snubbing you… 🙂 )

      As for Sister Clare, you’re right, she might be just sitting back and thinking about things – she knows the invitation is there to come back, and she most know, if she’s reading the blog, that there is no animosity here towards her. Certainly not from me.

      I have some work commitments now that will start to take up my time – so I am thinking that I might not post every day, but only when there is something important to say.

      That said, I always remember John Steinbeck, when he was writing East of Eden, he would always write a letter to his publisher each day before he started work – it was his “warm up” before he began his writing. I could look at the blog as being something equivalent. 🙂

      Thanks though for taking the time to put all this down, and for your considered thoughts. And sorry that it got held up in the spam filter for a short period!



    • Clare,

      I don’t think he should change a thing. If it went to Facebook or to the Forum, color me gone. I don’t even understand the rest you said and would not participate in anything that I have to think to gain access. The blog is something that I enjoy each day, but it is mostly because of Bill and then the rest of you. I try to keep my posts light and humerous, as that is what I want from it.

      I think Bill is wondering whether or not to quit posting, not how he can change it. I can’t imagine how he finds the time to do what he does, and I certainly would hate to see him take on more time, and frankly, I believe he would not. The regulars seems to have a resounding, please don’t quit. I think it means a lot to each of us each day. However, if Bill feels it is time to move on, then I 100% support him. He has the herculean task of coming up with a new post each day. At least it is herculean to me, but he manages to get it done. I would not. If he wants to post less often, then more power to him for that also.

      Clare, I know you mean well, but for goodness sake it’s not broken, so why try to fix it. He was just considering moving on, but I doubt he will since so many love to see it each day.



  6. Hi Bill – I echo everyone’s thoughts.
    None of us will ever REALLY know why Sister Clare lied to you … it seemed to me that Sister Clare dug a small hole for herself with the telling of the lie itself and of course that hole got a great deal bigger with her subsequent actions – no way out of it for her, sadly. I miss Sister Clare – her posts and her wise counsel on so many occasions were simply wonderful.
    And the Satan thing … well … horrible, just horrible … but didn’t THAT turn into the biggest joke … that nasty little email disappeared in a puff of smoke because of the sense of community and incredible goodwill that we have here with our PGS family.
    Cheers – Jenny


    • Jenny, you’re right – humour and sunlight are the best healers. And by sunlight, I mean being in the open – being transparent. “Satan” hid under his rock. Out of the sunlight.

      I guess I can’t really stop blogging with this kind of response, can I…



      Thank you!!


  7. Hi everyone. I just got back from my walk. It’s a great thing to walk first thing in the morning.

    Bill I’d hate to see you stop this blog. Not just for my own selfish reasons but I think you actually get a lot out of it. I know you didn’t start this with view to it being such a growing and dynamic place but it is and I think that’s a good thing.

    I couldn’t do a blog like you do. Putting yourself out there being open to everyone’s opinions. But by doing that there will always be those out there that hide behind names and email addresses. As hard as it would be, and once again I’m not sure I could, but you need to let them wash over you and let the rope go.

    As for the Sister Clare thing I admire you for all you’ve done with regard to that. I feel for you, Jennifer, Sister Clare and those that became close with her. For me the lesson is that this is an online community and we really don’t know much about each other. I look forward to meeting some of the PGS family in person to better know them. I’ll be forever grateful that you and Jennifer made the time meet up with Greg and I when you were in town.

    My kids have interrupted my thoughts at least 50 times while I’ve been trying to type this. I think I just need to go and give them the attention they are craving.

    Have a great day/evening everyone.



    • Your children are the most important thing Donna! Thank you for saying all this.

      And you’re right – I know that as a film director. You make a movie, it’s very public, and you have to deal with praise when it comes, as you have to deal with criticism. I’m used to it. I’ve been subject to reviewers opinions for more than thirty years. It’s part and parcel of what I do.


  8. Bill and all, back when I was newly married, I was angry with my husband over something obviously minor because I can’t remember what it was. I mentioned it to someone wiser and more mature than myself who suggested that when you are “fighting” with someone, it is important to know if you are fighting for selfish reasons or if you are fighting to save the relationship. I have thought about that many times in the past 34 years. Once a person stops fighting to be “right” and starts fighting to understand the other person and reclaim the relationship, things often get better quickly. Maybe that is true here as well. I appreciate that you are trying desperately to understand. That shows the greatness of your heart.


  9. hi julie –

    what I’ve learnt from all these years married – and also I have to say working as a film director with sometimes some very contrarian actors – as soon as you get angry you lose power. You have lost. You have lost status. There’s no point getting angry.

    Jennifer has taught me that fighting is unimportant. That if you let go the rope, then the fight goes away. And it’s true. I’ve tried it and it works.

    Thank you also for saying those things about my heart etc – I said to Steve yesterday that I do not profess to have any superior knowledge, or to be spiritual, or religious. I do though have curiosity. And one of the things this blog provides is for me to explore my curiosity…


  10. Bill –

    Though we have never met, I consider you to be someone of great personal value to me.

    Stop writing or not? That is your decision and I believe that all would abide by it and with great equanimity – – after a time. But please consider the options…

    1) Write when you want.

    2) As in #1 but do not worry about responding to comments. We can carry the conversation on our own and I hope that everyone is mature enough to not look for your direct response to anything we say. You do not owe us anything… just so you know.

    3) Write what you want, when you want and disable the comments. It takes the pressure off responding, no?

    Allow me to explain myself.

    I found your blog by chance. A very strange set of circumstances – – in line with my whole Camino experience. Your self-discovery articulated things to me that I was just on the verge of discovering – it was the catalyst for a lot of what I have since figured out.

    So… irrespective of what anybody else wants, or what you want… would it be possible to at least keep the blog in an archive for a few more months to give some of us time to download the best bits?

    If there is a cash cost to you then please let me know, I am sure I can work something out.

    Oh, BTW, on totally different matters… Steve is totally spot on with his assessment of Lowa boots; we must have the exact same make – – I’ll be taking mine again this Spring. Next, I have to thank you for the commentary of the contents of the vending machines on Autobahn rest stops. NOW, I know why everyone there seemed to be in a hurry.

    Happy Monday!



    • Brendan – firstly, thank you for those kind words.

      I think I’ll just busk it. I have a few things that I’d like to post coming up – and while ever there are things to write about that interest me and I believe might interest some others, then I’ll keep at it.

      Thanks also for offering to keep the blog open for the archives. Not sure any of it is archive-worthy, but no, I’ll keep it open.

      As for Steve’s boots – Steve walked half the Camino before he discovered that you can actually buy a rain jacket that has Goretex. By that stage he’d lost 30lbs in weight through his self-imposed walking sauna bath.

      So I don’t place a great deal of credence in his choice of hiking gear…




  11. Bill,

    How can you stop your blog? I haven’t yet walked the Camino and I have so much more I need to learn! You and this family have taught me so much about the spirit of the walk I will take in September. Please don’t stop!!



  12. Bill, I do not know how you keep up with this and do all the other things, that you speak of. You are quite amazing, I think you must not need sleep and you must both think and type at lightning speed. I really wonder, quite remarkable! I can not even keep up reading them all the time, but I do so enjoy connecting in when I can. Like so many here. Kathryn


  13. Bill,

    On the last 3 visits to this blog my McAfee internet security 2014 alarm bells went off.
    According to the McAfee internet security application, you are including hidden malware and spyware within your postings.

    If so, why are you tracking and spying on your visitors to this website?

    If you’re unwilling/unable to give me a plausible explanation, in public, then you will leave me with no other choice than to post these allegations, including screenshots, on Ivar’s Camino blog to warn potential visitors coming to this blog.
    I got directed to your weblog from your postings on Ivar’s Camino blog, so I think he should become aware of these disturbing issues.



      I know mine does and Bill has said in the past how many hits, etc he has. I have Norton and NEVER ONCE has it found anything in this blog that would be detrimental to my computer. I’d like to say more of what I think but don’t think it would be appropriate at the time


      • Lynda,

        WordPress automatically comes with an inbuilt Google Analytics kind of function, which gives you data of how many visits per day, what posts were visited, etc. that’s no different to any website using Google Analytics, and as I say that comes inbuilt into the WordPress blog.

        I too am suspicious of this poster’s comment. Who is she? Has she commented before?

        Why would she immediately be so aggressive and threatening?



    • Dorothy,

      if that’s correct, then I’m both shocked and alarmed.

      I haven’t put any spying software into this blog. Why would I?

      I’m also surprised at the tone and aggression in your comment, and your immediate assumption that I might be doing something nefarious.

      I don’t know you. Have you publicly commented before? Because if not, then quite frankly I’m suspicious that you could be a troll sent to try and shut me down.

      I now ask the question generally, and to everyone else on this blog – has anyone else with security software received a similar warning?

      If not, the I will doubt the credibility of what you’re claiming.

      And Dorothy – please don’t threaten me.



      • Bill,

        I use Norton 360 on my computer and McAfee Mobile Security on my tablet and smartphone. I have never received any warnings about any problems with your blog or forum while using any of my devices.



        • Thanks Arlene,

          That’s good to know.

          So far I haven’t heard back from “Dorothy” with th screenshot of her malware report.

          It looks like she was a troll – probably sent by Satan!


          Thanks for letting me know. Bill


    • Dorothy –

      I run through two different machines at different times when I visit here.

      One is “up-to-date”, Chrome is the browser and security settings are quite high. No issues reported.

      The other machine is older vintage, uses Explorer and I have it set to max settings on Security Essentials where I have to manually approve EVERY cookie submission and/or other typically unobserved “conversation” between my computer and the server. (Never been offered a “cookie” coming here.)

      I have had ZERO problems and, when I have had my IT guy check out the machines’ status on a routine basis he has discovered zero issues. He uses three different types of software to check for malicious programs of all sorts.

      Either the McAfee is open to “false positives” or there has been an inadvertent action on your part that has flagged certain types of harmless server processes/subroutines as a problem.

      A bit of checking on these things before slinging mud might be a nicer way to go about handling such issues in the future.



      • Hear, hear, Brendan and I too have never had any security issues. I have met Bill and thanks to Steve, I now know why he kept his hair covering his forehead!! [Just kidding :)]
        A final comment (at least from me!): Please Bill, keep going. I takes time, we all know that, but it also gives so many people so much pleasure, fun and engagement; you make us think, we learn from each other and the Camino world is a better place for it 🙂


          • Hi Steve and Bill –
            We call ourselves ‘Jimmy’s Angels’ (well, at least I call Britta and Janet that!). Jimmy’s looking for some new recruits – we need as many ‘Angels’ as possible to tackle the forces of evil in this world … hey, maybe we can recruit Austin Powers! I’d love to see him in action on the Camino in that velvet suit!
            Cheers – Jenny


    • Dorothy,

      You have given us all something to think about. As you might know, Bill has been considering closing the blog down and has asked for feedback from all followers, but is, of course, getting it from those of us who follow each post and comment almost every day. As long as we have known him, we have not ever, or at least I should say, I have not ever noticed the stamp on his forehead, and it explains why he always wears that Swannies hat and we never see his forehead. Obviously, it has a stamp that says “Certified Nut Magnet”. I can see how he would have been embarassed to show that to us, and of course he would have run the risk that we would have run for the hills, not wanting to be mistaken for “nuts”.

      You might ask Ivar his opinion. You know they met in person two weeks back.

      Sincerely and my best to you wherever you go.



  14. Well, the BBBBB bought the right boots before the first Camino.

    Now rain jacket is different. My second one is gore-tex and the condensation was fietce with it also. Not sure there is a solution to that.


  15. Cripes Bill — STOP DWELLING ON IT.

    I know 100 times more about the Sister Clare story than I ever wanted to.

    The PROFESSIONAL way of dealing with such events in the typical online world would be : “Sister Clare is no longer a moderator in these forums

    errrr — that’s it.

    YES OK this forum is most certainly NOT a “typical” online community, and YES harm has been done — but CRIPES can you give this pouring of oil on the flames a rest ???!!!!???!!


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