Tuesday, April 26, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostelo Day 4:

Dawn seemed to arrive earlier today - guess I was tired? A glorious sunrise, and we were up, packed and out the door by 8. Beautiful monastic music plus my verse for today renewed my spirit and, I hoped, my body too.
Isaiah 40:31 ‘Those who wait = serve patiently, walk together with, upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they will mount up = not fall, but rise up above every obstacle and triumph through every test; with eagle’s wings = Word + Spirit, faith + grace, truth + love; They shall walk + not be weary.’ I especially claimed this last part!
So we walked through Astorga: its plazas, past the catedral, even a Gaudi landmark – his fantasies always stand out!
And just at the city edge, we found a café con leche abierto = coffee shop open, before heading out into the country.
Then the Irish couple we’d met on the train appeared and walked with us for the next 10 kms. We even took a slight detour to a unique Maragoto = a distinct ethnic group, village. Everything was built of stone: houses, walls, roofs, roads. Made to last!

But I noticed I was starting to lag behind again and when we stopped for breakfast, I wasn’t too steady on my feet. Michael noted that we’d taken 4 hours for only 11 kms:  only half way for the day. Perhaps I should try to get a bus?
I didn’t want to give up, but it started to rain, the rest of the way was uphill and now it was cold and wet and I really wasn’t feeling well, so… I phoned for a taxi.
Michael continued walking and as I drove by him a little later; the rain poured down and cars coming from the uphill direction even had snow covering them! My ride covered in 20 minutes what would have taken me 4 hours walking. I thought, ‘This isn’t much fun right now; and if I’m feeling like this on only my 3rd day on the Camino, how can I finish the remaining 280 kms?
My taxi dropped me off in Rabanal del Camino right at Pilar Albergue, a rough and rustic stone wood hostel. Isabella, the hostess, greeted me warmly and led me into an even warmer room with a fireplace burning, but I was shivering, so I right away climbed into my bunk and slept for the next 3 hours! I guess I was tired!
When I awoke, Michael had arrived soaked but happy to find a warm place to dry himself and his wet clothes.
Nothing like a fire to draw peregrinos together on a cold, wet day and as each arrived, we got to meet them and get to know their motives for walking.
Most were young and adventurous.
‘S from Seattle’ had already walked for 3 weeks; his 1st day in the Pyrenees he’d battled 3ft of snow! He wanted to prove he could break through personal limits: the Camino became his endurance test and he’d walked 50 km/day despite tendonitis and a couple toenails falling off. A cynic, he looked at my blister and warned, ‘Doesn’t look good; if that gets infected, you’re done for!’ Not very encouraging, I thought.
Some were trying to escape: walking away from issues back home, circumstances, conflicting relationships?
One was hoping to lose weight, another to overcome addictions.
2 Italians were running over 50km/day in flip-flops!... Why!?
Francesco, another Italian, was biking the whole route.
‘Ohio’ + her mom thought they should ‘just do it.’
Germans comprised the majority; wanderlust I guess?
 ‘B’, a young Polish computer games engineer, was taking his time, writing his thesis: Many who have affected Western society’s moral basis (eg Freud, Marx, Margaret Mead, Keynes, Wilhelm Reich) in the last century were themselves psychologically deranged, actually seeking to undermine family values + gender identity which liberals have tolerated and permitted to the extent they’ve become, as he described it, an oxymoron = oppressive tolerance!.
‘D from Toronto’ wanted to walk all day and party all night, but was really looking for healing in her identity.
Not many peregrinos admitted their motives were ‘spiritual’; most seemed to treat it as being out for a long walk, but few seemed to be here to walk with God?
I remarked how our modern values or lack of them were reflected by the Way, originally a very Roman Catholic route of penance and forgiveness, but now very secularized.
And it made me face my real motive for walking the Camino? especially now it seemed a real possibility I would not be able to continue all the way to Santiago.
When you come face-to-face with losing something, its true value becomes all the more precious and vital.
Later that evening we attended a Benedictine service in what was one of the oldest restored chapels on the Camino.  2 German monks prayed in Latin, Spanish and heavily accented English and I understood very little. I asked the Lord to make a Way where there didn’t seem to be one…. and it didn’t take long!
A group of us went for supper afterwards. Over a welcome bowl of hot soup, ‘K the German lady’ told us how she had her packsack shipped ahead daily to her next stop and asked, ‘Why don’t you do that also?
I remembered the Victoria father and daughter we’d met in the Madrid airport who’d said they were doing this right and now it seemed like a wonderful idea!
Back at the hostel, Isabella kindly phoned the Camino Service and arranged for them to not only drive my pack,
but me too, over the summit the next day.
I went to bed thinking, ‘Maybe it’s not such a bad idea for me to do this for the next couple of days?
After all, this Camino is not my endurance test. I have nothing to prove. Nor am I here to party.
I’m here to walk with my son.  Our family has been through much in these last 3 years and I want to make the most of this to continue walking through, through life, through whatever trial it takes, together, in the faith, hope and love that will open doors for my children, grandchildren and great-children, the next generations who will follow, walk, and fulfill their call.
I’m not here so much for my sake, but for Christ’s sake and them. So I prayed, ‘Let your Way be known, Lord.’

And it was!

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