Friday, April 29, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela Day 7:

We left La Piedra = the Rock albergue in Villafranca and our next one had basically the same name: A Pedra.  Some people might say this put me ‘between a rock and a hard place’, but today was mostly a planning, travel and rest day. My verse was appropriately:
Matt 16:18 ‘On this rock I will build my church’. Not any rock, but Peter’s and our confession of Jesus as the Christ.
Sometimes you just got to stand on the Rock to move you forward!
Our next stage on the Camino climbed another summit and with just over a week left, we needed to refocus so we could still make it to our destination in time. We planned to tackle less distance: about 20 kms/day and carry less: hopefully, sending my pack on ahead daily will lighten my load and let me walk more easily. So to position ourselves better, we decided to take a bus over the summit and walk the last 120 km.
Actually reaching Santiago now appeared more possible than it did just a few days ago!
Our bus didn’t leave till noon, so after all the other peregrinos had left, Mike + I shopped and ate breakfast out in a park in the sunshine - a wonderful change after yesterday’s rain!  We also checked out the town’s well-fortified castle and church, especially its Door of Forgiveness: the church’s concession and absolution for pilgrims so sick they couldn’t make it all the way to Santiago. I thought, it’s good the church was so gracious, but isn’t forgiveness more than just making it through a physical door?
Driving over the summit, we hit more snow again: I never knew Spain had so many mountains! Doesn’t the song says, ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’?! We changed buses in Lugo and in just over an hour, we had crossed into Galicia, Spain’s most north-western province. Our Irish friends had proudly told us Ireland and Galicia share common Celtic roots: their languages are quite similar and both play bagpipes!
From a Biblical perspective, I remembered what I’d learned about how the Galatians in the New Testament had common roots with Galicians who’d migrated from here 100s of years before Christ. Now I could actually see it for myself.
In Sarria, a couple young German students from Berlin joined us walking from the bus to our hostel. We registered, confirmed my plan to send my pack ahead the next morning and then spent the afternoon exploring: up a couple 100 stairs to a ruined castle, abandoned tower and monastery!
This hostel expressed the most personal sense of church-community sharing of any we stayed at along the Camino. 
Our other room-mates were: a Finn, even from Turku, where Erica and I had taught a Father’s Heart seminar, and a Spanish biker who was so tired from his day’s ride that he disappeared under his blankets from the moment he arrived till we left the next morning.
That evening, the manager invited us all to a communal meal in the dining room. He had a real fire blazing and their little dog was sleeping on a chair beside it; he looked just like our family’s Chippers and it felt just like home!
The 2 Germans joined us with the manager, his wife and a bunch of other Spaniards for an excellent meal together: lentil soup served out of a big bowl: hot and filling! real salad: lettuce, tomato, with lots of olives and cheeses! and platters of Spanish omelettes! Plus good vino and a special shot of ‘grappa’, which one of the Germans bravely
(or naively) downed in a single gulp; we were all full and sleep came easily. 

I was glad for that because this was our last rest day: tomorrow we would begin our push towards Santiago!

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