Sunday, April 24, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela: Day 2

Sunlight filled our medieval hotel room early so we got up, packed up our stuff and joined up with the  yellow arrows and seashells that marked the Camino’s route back at Cathedral square. An overnight frost quickly yielded to the sun’s warmth as we began our 1st day walking: along the city streets, past a stork high in its nest atop a centuries-old Roman pillar, over our first medieval bridge. We turned a corner and entered another square with a cross and statue of one very tired-looking peregrino = pilgrim resting at its foot, outside what used to be a monastery, but is now a luxury hotel. At $200/night, no wonder he was resting outside!
We continued through a rather uninteresting industrial section of town and past a very modern-day church with bronze statues of what almost appeared to be more like the 12 Psychotics rather than 12 Apostles? As we left Leon, it was warm enough to start removing layers: my hoodie and vest came off and I was soon down to shirtsleeves. Even put on a hat and sunscreen: the weather was idea for walking!
Following the yellow arrows marking the Camino became a way of life over the next 2 weeks and made it quite easy to follow: a bit like Oz’s ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’: every 100 metres or so they appeared to point up to Santiago, on sidewalks, walls, poles, everywhere. You’d think it would be very hard to lose our way… but we did.  Our map warned of a difficult transition point, but after a half hour of walking past abandoned ‘hobbit-houses’ with no yellow arrows, we followed a farmer’s directions and found our way back onto the Camino path.
My verse for that day then became real: John 14:6. ‘I am the Way…’  The Way = The Camino is not merely a geographical route found on a map, nor a formula or series of signs you memorize to reach your destination. Rather, The Way is a Person, Jesus, and you learn to follow Him out of relationship because He’s the One who has called you. And that call does not grow weaker in time, but ever stronger as you learn to hear His voice, even in spite of your circumstances. There’s not just a right Way + a wrong Way: there is His Way and when He says, ‘Follow Me,’ He is well able to reveal His Way, open it up before us and equip us with what we need to follow in it. The end does not justify the means. In Christ, His end and our means come together. What we do plus the way we do it ultimately produce the end result. Even more, who we are  is of more intrinsic value than what we do. We find our Identity in Jesus the Way and perhaps we need to get lost to our everyday world once in a while to find out who we indeed are and what is His direction and destination in our life. Jesus did say, ‘he who loses his life (for my sake) will find it.’
We walked that day for 8 hours; of course we took breaks for café con leche, but couldn’t find any ice cream!
In fact, we couldn’t find many people! The villages were empty and I even punned in my dismal Spanish that one village name: Chozas de Abajo really meant Chosen but Abandoned!
No great mountains to climb, rivers to ford, or whethers to weather on this day. Our 1st day proved wonderful on all counts! Sure, I was tired after 22.2 kms ; but our bunks felt good (even though many dorms’ beds were too short for Michael!) and the hot soup + tea warmed us up when the sun went down and the wind came up.

After all, the albergue we arrived at for our first night was appropriately named: Casa de Jesus = Jesus House! 

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