Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Way - Day 18

September 1, 2013 - 6 days into our Camino experience - time to cry - uncle - my blister was getting the best of me - time to take a break and give my foot a rest from the daily trekking.  Burgos, Spain is a good sized city where we stopped a few days to see if I could get a handle on my blister.  It was a big enough city that we could use the time to discover what Burgos had for visitors. Lord - we come before you seeking time to rest - time to heal - very appropriate many days - even this Lent. 

Not Too Shabby Waiting Area in the Community Hostel 

Here we met a few pilgrims - one lady who had traveled from Montana - against her doctor's advice - already scheduled for knee surgery.  Here waiting for a bus to help return her home - wishing she had listened to her doctor.  Any pilgrimage - best to take seriously any - all advice - helps to avoid bumps in the road 

Welcome to Burgos 

We also met an older couple in their 80s who were biking the Camino with battery powered bikes - the wife had a defective battery - had taken the bus here waiting for a replacement battery from Sweden their home bike dealer.  Very friendly pilgrims.  Inspired by their age and energy - positive attitude.  Often in Lent when we feel like we are failing - need to seek those who can encourage us to continue - not surprisingly - they are all around us.

The entrance gate towards the Cathedral at Burgos 

Walking through the gate - the first view of the Burgos Cathedral - very impressive - little did we know that we would return here 4 years later in 2017 and again in 2023 while leading a pilgrimage to Fatima - Lourdes.  I was privileged to preach here during Holy Mass - adding to my list of giving a homily in an international church - a special blessing for a deacon. 

Burgos Cathedral

One of many side altars

Besides all the altars and other religious artifacts -  dozens of paintings.  One special one - Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1040 – 1099), better known as El Cid - a Castilian nobleman and undefeated military leader in medieval Spain - during the golden age of the Templars.

El Cid 

Outside the Cathedral area - a large garden area to walk - wander - sit and talk - pray - reflect - rest your sore feet.  We visited this area a number of times while in Burgos - minutes away from our hostel. 

Burgos garden area near the Cathedral 

This garden - very near a running stream - very peaceful - very prayerful.  In Lent special blessings when a restful place is discovered - helps to make prayer time special - seeking a quiet space to pray - always a benefit in Lent. 

Buen Camino
Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 1, 2024

The Way - Day 17

On this walking pilgrimage we quickly settled into a daily routine - sleep as late as possible - too many early walkers who disturbed our sleep - 5:00 AM - lights still out - rustling noises as they dress and repack their back packs in the dark - some with flashlights or hiking head lamps trying to gather all their belongings - too often - those lights shining into the eyes of those trying to get more sleep - the noise from shuffling all their stuff also making it difficult to sleep. We had to leave the albergues by 10:00 AM at the latest - that allowed the staff time to clean the facility and bunk beds.  Most days we were up and ready to leave by 7:30 AM which still allowed us plenty of walking time as well as stopping early enough to get a bed.  Some people reserved ahead - not knowing how difficult each day would be - we planed our day by ear and using a guide book to know where the hostels were located - we had a good idea when to stop - time of day - how bad my blisters hurt. We learned very early that those who walked until dark often found the albergues filled and no beds available.  Taking that into consideration - time of day - distance walked - making sure we had a bed - had us stopping by 4:30 PM at the latest.  Less people in the albergue - a better choice of bed - away from the bathrooms - closer to the windows for a good breeze since they are not air conditioned.  Just because we were back packing did not mean it had to be too rough of an experience.  In Lent as we try to follow our plans for prayer time - accomplishing our daily spiritual exercises - fitting those in with our daily obligations sometimes challenging - so we adapt. we pray - constantly listening to God's voice

Back into the country side 

Another beautiful day - although we were prepared for rain - we only had light rain on our last day of pilgrimage.  This section mostly flat - near here we met a couple from the Philippines - during our time in Spain we met pilgrims from 24 countries - all spoke English 
A new style Camino marker with yellow arrow & Filipino pilgrims

Random monument dedicated for pilgrims who died while walking 

Pilgrim biking the Camino 

Walking through a grape field - didn't pick any

A Camino directional sign with local history 

Village of Najera - Our albergue for tonight 

This night we experienced semi-private dormitory beds - two bunk beds in a shared room. One of us on top the other got the lower - just to be fair to the others sharing the room

Dormitory bunk beds

Alburgue entrance - Must leave boots & trekking poles at entrance
 to avoid bringing dirt to bed area & pray they are still there in the morning 

We ended our day early enough to find a place to eat and wander around the town. The alburgues all lock their doors at 10:00 PM - so must be back or you get locked out. The 
sunsets in Spain - always beautiful - time to pause - give God the praise for another fruitful - spiritual - safe day. 
Beautiful Sunset 

At bedtime - always time for many prayers - prayers of thanksgiving - prayers of praise - intercessory prayers for self - those at home - those also walking the Camino.  In Lent as any other night - final prayers for the day - thank you Lord - Jesus I trust in you  

Buen Camino

Deacon Dale  

Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Way - Day 16

Walking through all the villages gave us the chance to see many small churches - those in the distance we simply walked past - in the villages a chance to walk inside to visit.  Always time for a prayer inside the church - those prayers added to the dozens of prayers spoken as we walked.  During Lent - always opportunities for extra prayers - a simple Glory Be - Hail Mary.

Parish Courtyard

City of Navarrete - Welcome

An early arrival - time to wander here - visit some local sights after checking in at today's albergue.  Time to relax - a glass of wine - Tappas - waiting for dinner time.  More quiet time for reflection - prayers - listening to God.  Lent is an excellent time to pause and listen - to God -your heart - your thoughts.  In Spain or at home - take advantage of this gift. 

Arlene checking her map 

Plenty of time to visit the local church.  In this part of Spain the locals stay up late at night - sleep late into the morning - not up again until 10:00 AM.  Daily Mass here not scheduled until the evening at 8:00 PM  

Saint Mary's Parish A lot of gold surrounds the altar

Saint Mary Parish 

Weekday Mass 8:00 PM  Sunday 10:00 AM & 1:00 PM  Visiting hours 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM a 
4 hour break then open again 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM  The locals attend evening Mass for about 30 minutes - then head to local restaurants for a routine late dinner. In Lent attending daily Mass - a gift - time for community prayers - Adoration - confession - all gifts from the Church - to each and everyone.  

Buen Camino 
Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Way - Day 15

 Back on the trail - note our Camino angels at lower right walking ahead of us. Each morning begins with a prayer then - close by our albergue - a place to get our cafe con leche y tostada. When we first started - Arlene only wanted coffee which in Spain would be espresso - a small coffee maybe one ounce of liquid - I convinced her to get her coffee with more volume -  so cafe con leche - a latte - about 8 ounces along with toast.  It was very important that we consumed lots of liquid during the day. We were carrying about 2 liters of water in our back packs but whenever possible we stopped and had more coffee or a Coke.  She wanted diet and again I insisted that there was no nutritional benefit in a diet drink and had her drink the regular Coke.  Spending six to eight hours a day walking meant we needed lots of liquid to keep us hydrated as well as carbohydrates to fuel our muscles.  The bread in Spain was some of the best bread we ever ate - no preservatives - so breakfast - cafe con leche y tostada.  On the Camino we learned that there were two breakfasts - #1  the simple latte and toast - #2 more cafe con leche and perhaps eggs and more - all blessed by saying grace   

The Back Yard of Spain 

The majority of pilgrims started so early in the morning - perhaps as soon as 5:00 AM - that no restaurants were open - only bars with the coffee and toast.  It wasn't until maybe 10:00 AM that full service restaurants opened.  The mornings were always cool so a hot drink to start the day - mandatory  as well as a light jacket for the first hour.  In Lent we always begin the day with some sort of breakfast and morning prayers. 

Country Chapel

On Camino our days filled with dozens of prayers - Rosary - Chaplets - intercessions for those back home - those in need.  In Lent - in addition to scheduled prayers - always open to stop and pray on a moments notice as we learn of other's needs. We are prayer warriors for all.

Lunch was available about noon and dinner only at 7:30 PM.  Many pilgrims including us - stopped walking around 4:00 PM to ensure that we could find a bed - shower - change into 
dry clothes - relax and wait for dinner time.  To fill that time waiting for dinner hour - some cerveza or vino.  We found on the Camino they had two choices of wine - vino tinto - vino blanco.  Added to the beer or wine - tapas - small servings of food items to hold us until dinner - time to relax - talk with others - meditate on the days events - blessings 

Slippery When Wet 

On the Camino path we discovered every type of terrain possible except for snow - in winter months even that is experienced.

Fresh Spring Water *Note Camino Shell on Wall

Keeping hydrated our number one concern - always selecting the large size drink when we found a place with food or drink.  Our personal water system in our back packs with a sippy tube - available to take frequent sips of water as we walked - freeing up our hands to use our trekking poles which we used about 90 percent of the time when walking. 

City of Logrono

Whenever we entered a larger village or city we were able to take advantage of amenities not available in the small places.  Walking on pavement - a break from rocky paths and eliminating the risk of twisting ankles. In these places we were able to see families out and about which was a break from the hours on the path when we were thee only people we could see. 

Pilgrim Statue

Logrono was our stopping place for this day. After showering and getting into dry clothes - time to do some sightseeing - some vino tinto y tapas before dinner. 

Vino Blanco y Cerveza y Tapas

A simple dinner at The Drunken Duck - a walk back to the albergue for another dormitory 
night of sleep 

Night View of Logrono Fountain 

Laying in our designated bunk - time to reflect on that day's events - time to say more prayers - pray for another good day tomorrow.  As we end this day of our Lenten journey - prayers of thanksgiving - asking blessings for whatever tomorrow will hold.  Jesus we trust in you. Amen.

Buen Camino 
Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Way - Day 14

 That first day of walking was the best - an awesome walking partner - possibly the first time ever that we spent 24 hours continuously together - walking - talking - praying.  The fact that we were able to avoid the first night in a dormitory setting - instead in a private room with private bath - queen size bed - made our first night on pilgrimage very comfortable.  Waking early the next morning - blister treated - finding a cafe con leche - we continued our adventure.  Morning coffee for most - always a good way to begin a new day on your Lenten journey. 

Looking Into the Distance - More Ups and Downs

No matter how disciplined one is - the Lenten journey - never exactly as planned - something out of place - a disruption - no reason to be angry - we are on pilgrimage with all its surprises.

Hello! The Camino Marker

Entering a small village we found pavement again - the Camino marker - a break from the gravel and rocks.  In Lent we very often find others also on their spiritual journey - walking similar paths - possible spiritual companions.

We discover other pilgrims ahead of us - Arlene's back pack displaying the pilgrim sea shell tied to her pack and her trekking poles - not needed on flat terrain - they will come in handy 

The Camino path misses very large towns most of the way - smaller villages are plentiful - with places to stop - rest - use bathrooms - find food.  When scheduling your Lenten experience - a must to allow for the necessities - especially when engaging in lengthy practices - food - rest breaks  

Returning to the gravel and rocks 

To be clear - we were walking through the mountain regions - luckily from our research we knew to expect the ups and downs and the necessity of trekking poles.

Here it almost looks like Arlene is using stairs - danger zone - an old crumbling Roman road

And again - over and over the rocky terrain returns to flatter terrain - lots more walking on the gravel paths 

Looks flat but it is heading uphill - again

Dormitory sleeping men - women

Ending this day the first alburgue we stopped at was filled - even this one they said they were filled until another person decided to open up the third floor which was completely empty. By the time we had finished dinner and ready for bed - it too was almost filled.  We left our back packs on our beds - trusting that nobody would take anything - for the most part - pilgrims are very honest and helpful.  As we journey in Lent we often need the help of others as we navigate the path that we have planned for our 40 days of prayers.

Buen Camino 
Deacon Dale 

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Way - Day 13

 The first day - August 26, 2013 - starting on the walking portion of The Camino - we began with a prayer - Lord as we begin this time of pilgrimage, may You be with us, keep us safe, guide our feet as we walk to reverence the bones of Your disciple Saint James - Amen.  Starting fresh - breakfast in our stomachs - excitement on our faces - hearts filled with joy - we began. **Note - now that we are sharing our Camino experience more pictures will be included.  As you continue your Lenten journey - please begin each day with a prayer - dot your day with prayer - conclude your day with prayer. As St. Paul said - pray constantly.

Our Camino - August 26, 2013 - October 1, 2013
Arlene's Smile Says It All - The Shell At Her Feet - Our Start

This section of The Camino passing through Pamplona - famous for the Running of the Bulls - paved solid path - soon to turn into gravel - rocks - rough terrain.  Only a few kilometers outside town we met our first pilgrim - sitting in the grass - taking a break - having started in France before she walked over the Pyrenees mountain into Spain past Roncesvalles to Pamplona.  We chatted a bit then headed to our first challenge.  As shown in the next photo - we found ourselves walking a gravel trail through what I call - the back yards of Northern Spain - the current Camino path having been revised over the years to allow for development of towns - roads - keeping as close to the original trail as possible while keeping pilgrims off the streets and highways.  We found our first Camino pillar just outside town.  As we walk our Lenten journey - we are constantly on the look out for unanticipated blessings. 

The Concrete Marker

Depending on the journey - when - where - always good to stop - take a break - a sip of water - coffee - to give your mind - body time to absorb whatever you are experiencing.

Break Time - Hay bales to rest on 

What goes up must come down and vice versa. The Camino trail follows the mountain lines - mostly over the peaks and down through the valleys.  Any experienced thru hiker will tell you that going down hill always harder on the hips and knees than going up hill.  Lent is a string of up hill battles - starting - staying with it - finding a place to stop.

The Ups & Downs of the Trail - See the White Trail Path To The Right 

We thought arriving at this point was our first challenge of the Camino - as it was our first long ascent up the mountain to this place - little did we know a much larger challenge was just ahead

Alto de Peron 
A sculpture dedicated to Pilgrims either on foot or on horseback who have walked the Camino

Going downhill - always harder than going up hill - especially when the path is filled with tons of round rolling rocks that make walking treacherous.  We observed pilgrims without trekking poles losing their balance - seeing more than one with elbows -  knees - bandaged from their fall. 

Not So Smooth Walking on Rolling Rocks - Downhill Danger

Happily that stretch was only about one kilometer long before we returned to much better terrain.  It was about that time I had developed my first blister on my foot and needed a place to stop and rest.  Turning the corner of the trail we spied an albergue - a series of hostels reserved only for pilgrims - low cost places mostly dormitory styled sleeping places for men and women - a shower and a bed for €10 a night per person.  Unfortunately when we asked about beds - told they were full up.  I needed to definitely stop for the night - happily they had a private room with a queen bed for €20 a night - we jumped at it - private bath - room just what we needed. 

The First of Our Albergues (Pilgrim Hostel)  697 Km Left

Our first day walking - 28 kilometers - private room/bath - great dinner at their restaurant -  one blister - a very productive day - easily dozens of prayers said while walking - a success.  Tomorrow - learning how to cope with a blister - more adventures await.  Every Lenten journey a new experience - never the same - always surprises - God with us - all the way.

Buen Camino 
Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Way - Day 12

 Luckily for us - we had been in Spain on one of our previous European adventures so we already were somewhat familiar with the Madrid airport - it was no problem taking the tram inside the airport to the bank of taxis waiting outside - which took us to the train station where we caught our scheduled train to Pamplona.  We had arranged our overnight flight so that we would arrive early enough - that we would get the train to Pamplona where we would arrive early enough to get dinner and a good nights sleep before stepping out onto the Camino path.  It was also a bit of luck that our hotel was immediately on the Camino path - so early the next morning we checked out and were sent on our way by the clerk with a hearty - Buen Camino - a phrase that we would hear a hundred times or more during our pilgrimage.  All the locals - clerks - sales people knew immediately that we were pilgrims by the back packs and trekking poles that were our constant companions.  Stepping outside the hotel we spied the silver Camino shell - the symbol of the Camino - imbedded into the concrete sidewalk - pointing our way to Santiago.  When the sidewalk ended and the path was replaced by gravel and dirt - the marker was replaced by a concrete pillar with the same symbol and a yellow arrow - both pointing the way onward to Santiago. That Camino symbol and yellow arrow would lead us the entire way to the Cathedral where the bones of Saint James laid. 

Whenever we take a journey - we constantly look for markers - signs that we are on the right path - heading in the right direction.  Today - the Second Sunday of Lent - takes us from last Sunday's beginning inspired by Father Jim at St. Patrick - onwards towards the fullness of Lent - our eventual celebration of Easter - the resurrection of Jesus.  Today - another day on pilgrimage - we continue - refreshed by the Eucharist we just  received at Holy Mass - inspired  by the words of Father David - the pastor at St. Jon Vianney - our home parish while here in the Sonoran Desert - yes back in the desert - still on our life's pilgrimage - seeking holiness with fellow pilgrims.

Buen Camino

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Way - Day 11

Star Trek - To go where no man has gone before - Fortunately - unlike the TV series - many who walk the Camino de Santiago have traveled previously in foreign countries - experienced back packing in the wild. To travel - far from home - means you move out of your comfort zone - have an adventurous spirit - willing to step into the unknown - willing to risk - in order to gain.  If you have not already begun your Lenten journey - today is your starting day - today you took that first step - you picked up your Bible - opened to page one of that book you selected to start reading - opened the pamphlet you got on how to pray the Rosary - Divine Mercy Chaplet - said your first prayer - asked Jesus to bless whatever you decided to do. Although we had been doing international travel for the previous fourteen years - we had never done any serious backpacking - not counting an overnight camping trip with the kids.  For us to walk into the airport in Chicago with only a small back pack with all our needs - small enough to qualify for a carry on - holding less than a dozen items to wear for the next five weeks - two hundred dollars in cash - along with our passports - ID cards and two credit/debit cards - took guts. Being in our late 60's - no contacts in Spain - the closest contacts back home in Illinois - was a bit scary - but we knew we had each other - Jesus - His Angels - walking with us.

Our Camino Angels

As all of us walk our Lenten journey - no matter how well it goes - doesn't go - no matter what road blocks we end up facing - we know we will endure - we will progress forward - even in times when we come to a sudden halt - we will continue on.  Jesus walks with everyone of us - His angels constantly at our sides - walking with us - before us making clear our path - that our journey during these 40 days will be constantly blessed.  

Buen Camino

Deacon Dale  

Friday, February 23, 2024

The Way - Day 10

 Once we had experienced El Camino de los Santos - walking from St Patrick Church in Yorkville to The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Plano and back to the site of the future Shrine of Saint Giana at Saint Patrick - we noticed a few things that pointed to possible issues that we would face once in Spain.  A positive point - the trail in Spain was a thousand years old - well established - the majority kept pilgrims on paths safely away from traffic - our path in Illinois was a first time effort that required us walking over virgin soil - sometimes on the edge of country roads - too close to traffic for comfort.  Luckily the time we walked on the edge of roads was minimal - it is good to note that in the last eight years a permanent cycling - walking path has been constructed between the two towns - walking today - much safer.  When we walked in 2013 there was basically no amenities available - today the new path follows safely to the side of State Route 34 - now with food and restrooms easily available.  In Spain - on the Camino Francis portion of The Camino - very highly developed with food - restrooms - pilgrim hostels in abundance.  This short Camino taught us the value of maintaining a steady pace - not too slow - not too fast.  We had already determined it best to stick to a 2 1/2 to 3 miles per hour pace - steady enough not to become boring - not too fast to tire ourselves out. 

Following Arlene's Red Pack 

Once a path is selected - the journey begins - now almost a week into Lent - plans should have been finalized - if not started - this would be a good time. Ten days into Lent - 30 days remaining - still plenty of time to experience a fruitful Lenten journey.  Just as we did in Spain - begin with a prayer - pick up your pack - start your journey.  As you continue - pray constantly - in all you do - pray - never stop praying - your journey will bear much fruit.

Buen Camino
Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Way - Day 9

 As part of our preparation we decided that the best way to test our equipment was to start walking once the weather became agreeable.  We started by walking with our back packs and doing a loop from our home and back starting at 2 1/2 miles and working up to a 5 mile loop.  The goal was to be able to walk three segments daily with sufficient breaks for bathroom and food reaching a total of 18 to 20 miles daily - the distance that we anticipated walking daily in Spain.  From that we developed a Mini Camino - El Camino de los Santos - The Walk to the Saints. Our Mini Camino took us from our home in Bristol to St Mary Church in Plano, IL.  Once we had completed that we added some elements from the Camino de Santiago - creating a small pilgrim passport along with a set of stamps that pilgrims would collect on their passport at check points along the way. In June of 2013 - we recruited a group and made the round trip from St. Patrick Church to St Mary Church and back - about 18 miles total. We gained good insight from that one day walk and at the same time introduced about 20 people to the concept of a walking pilgrimage.  On that walk - many prayers - songs - spiritual discussion was shared.

As mentioned before - Lent is not about how much you do - what you do - where you do it.  It's all about doing old things you are familiar with - trying new things - being open to different ideas - concepts.  If you are not familiar with the Rosary - Divine Mercy Chaplet - sitting in Adoration - reading spiritual books - now is a great time to investigate them. Taking time to stop walking - to sit - be quiet - listen for the voice of God - the best time ever.

Buen Camino

Deacon Dale