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October 31, 2009, 12:03 pm
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I have arrived home.  I am physically very tired and will have to spend some time getting used to be being back – although it is very good to be back.

Over the next few days I will put photos into the posts I wrote while I was walking, so please keep an eye out for those.  I will also be beginning to reflect on what the Pilgrimage means from this end of it.

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Photos
October 31, 2009, 11:59 am
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food for the journey
October 26, 2009, 5:55 pm
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I have a number of poems I have been living with as I have walked.  I will post the words of them when I get home as it is very likely that I have misremembered them.

But I have written down these words by Michael Hare Duke in my notebook:

Religion has no answers.

Its light flickers

to entice complacency

to pilgrimage

and ensure

we do not escape the hard questions

which alone breed meaning

from the perplexing union

of birth and death.

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santiago
October 25, 2009, 6:56 pm
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I have arrived in Santiago.  Last night Jose Carlos and I stayed in the albergue at O Outreira 18km from the end.  The plan was to get up early and walk in the dark so that we could reach Santiago well before the Pilgrim Mass at noon.  When the alarm went off we woke to a terrible storm so decided to wait for light.  The rain eased and we walked in sunshine.  We pushed hard and at 10am we saw the towers of Santiago Cathedral 8km away.  We reached Santiago just in time, fighting our way through the runners of the Santiago Marathon who were finishing outside the Cathedral.  Straight into Mass with rucksacks and sticks like many other pilgrims today and through the ages.

I do not know what I feel about finishing.  I have both loved and hated the Pilgrimage; it has been one of the best and one of the most difficult things I have done.  My friend John sent me a text a couple of days ago saying that the benefits will emerge over the next few decades.  This was just what I needed to hear.  I will add more reflections over the next days as it sinks in.  Just to say that I shed tears in Mass, that we had a very good lunch, that I am looking forward to be not walking tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone for your support and love.  Tomorrow I will spend time praying and giving thanks for you all in the Cathedral.



nearly there…
October 21, 2009, 7:58 pm
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meenakshi here, dad said hello to everyone, as he will not have internet access until he reaches Santiago now. He is well, and enjoying the Spanish friendliness and cuisine! My mum and me are going to Spain tomorrow, staying in Barcelona for a few days, then meeting dad in Santiago and finally bringing him home with us.



vilar de barrio
October 16, 2009, 5:40 pm
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I have the rare luxury on internet access two days running.  I´m in the small town of Vilar de Barrio.  I´m staying in the municipal albergue, the pilgrim hostel, provided for us by the government of Galicia.  For the princely sum of 3 euros there is are bunkbeds in dormitories, showers, facilities to handwash clothes.  At the moment there are myself, Jose Carlos, and a wonderful group of Spanish pilgrims: 3 older men and one son who are massively unfit, good natured and incredibly noisy.  Wonderful!

Fantastic walking today.  When we left Laza the farmacia said it was minus 1; it is now in the mid 20´s.  We climbed 500 metres in 5 kilometres.  At the top is the village of Albergueria.  It has no albergue (although one will open next year) but has a wonderful bar the Rincon de Peregrinos.  Every pilgrim has to sign a Santiago shell which is attached to the ceiling and walls.  After coffee, ham, cheese and bread, a gentle descent to Vilar Barrio.

I have booked into the Monastery at Oseira for 3 nights next week.  This will give me an opportunity for some quiet and prayerful reflection on the Camino and my journey home.  All being well, I should be in Santiago in time to meet Bharti and Meenakshi.  And in two weeks I will be home – which  am looking forward to.  The Pilgrimage has been excellent.  At the same time it is one of the hardest things and one of the best things I have ever done, but I am about ready for it to finish.  I am looking forward to seeing what I take home from it.



walking with Jesus
October 15, 2009, 3:54 pm
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I am sorry, but I can´t resist this title.  Of course, I have been walking with Jesus all the way, in the times of deep prayer and in the times when it is almost impossible to put one foot in front of another.  But yesterday morning we physically walked with Jesus, a university librarian from Leon who, like many Spanish people, is walking the Camino in chunks as he has holiday.  He had to go much further than us, so we ended up following Jesus – which of course is the right place to be.

I am in Laza, still deep in the mountains of Galacia.  Frost in the mornings, then heat.  Incredibly beautiful, except when we asked a woman shepherding goats, she said it wasn´t – it must be an incredibly hard life for some people here.

As I walk I am reflecting on the parts of Gerard Manley Hopkins ´God´s Grandeur´that I have by heart.  ¨Generations have trod, have trod, have trod¨has a very different meaning on the Camino.  Sometimes on what are obviously very ancient sections of track I have a very strong feeling of connection with the pilgrims who have gone before.

Yesterday we stayed in the bar in Campobercerros.  We ate with the family, caldo, the wonderful Galician bean and cabbage soup, the ubiquitous fried pork and chips, fruit.  Today in a restaurant here, señora cooked especially for us, paella, chicken, salad, ice cream.

Jose Carlos and I tookj an excursion to Cerdedelo to visit the Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Pana Tellada.  His tourist authority leaflet showed an enormous baroque Church.  When we had passed it, we realized that the small gothic ermita and tiny cave with flowers was the shrine.

I realized as I walked today that I am not worried about anything.  I am relaxed.  I can trust God about today and tomorrow, and that is all I need. This is a wonderful gift that I pray I take home with me.

The calendar in the bar this morning reminded me that today is the Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila.  Visiting her convent in Avila was a highlight for me.  Roy, please eat some of her cakes for me.

Also, if Sam and Ben read this, I took a photo of a snake for you today.

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