Wednesday, March 31, 2021

El Camino - The Way #43


Today marked the official end of our pilgrimage - the quest to walk to the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela - to reverence the bones of Saint James.  In the cathedral in a niche behind metal bars lies the container of those bones.  You cannot touch the container - you cannot see the bones - in faith you know they are there.  In reverence we stand - bow our heads - in thanksgiving we offer our prayers for a safe - pilgrimage.  We allow tears to well up in our eyes as we consider what we have done.  By ourselves - no tour guide - no bus - our planning - research - our faith has brought us to this moment.  In this Holy Week - our eyes fill with tears - as we thank our God for all our years of life - for all the Lents we have walked - for all the blessing He has given us.

In a Niche 

Behind protective bars 

Remains of Saint James 

Well deserved smiles 

Pilgrim Mass

The silver  botafumerio hanging top center 

The Botafumeiro is suspended from a pulley mechanism in the dome on the roof of the church. The current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604.  The present Botafumeiro is made of an alloy of brass and bronze and is plated by a very thin 20 micrometer layer of silver. The current one was made in 1851. The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is one of the largest censers in the world - weighing 176 pounds and measuring 5 feet in height. It is normally on display in the library of the cathedral -  for certain important religious occasions, it is brought to the floor of the cathedral  and attached to a rope hung from the pulley mechanism.  It is swung normally once a week during the pilgrim Mass.  For special groups it can be used for a 450€ fee. On a future post I will show this being used at the end of Mass. 

Today even more pilgrims than yesterday waiting for their compostela 

Our Compostelas

Arlene's Compostela 

 Deacon Dale's Compostela 

Pilgrim Passports showing the stamps each of us collected

Pilgrim Passports - we collected one stamp for each albergue we stayed at. From Sarria we had to collect two stamps each day - one at our albergue and one at a church or restaurant we visited during the last 100 kilometers as proof that we were actually walking.  Those who were biking had to collect stamps from the last 200 kilometers.  Some people were so desperate to collect the stamps that they cheated by driving and not walking or cycling. Walking the Camino for residents of Spain is very important for their resumes when applying for some jobs and promotions.  For those who honestly prepare themselves for Easter - no proof required - God knows their hearts - what was done.

Deacon Dale

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

El Camino - The Way #42


The one thing we feared the most on the Camino was rain - rain produces mud - rain makes smooth rocks slippery - rain makes clothing damp and sticky - rain is not a trekker's friend. This morning - on our final day of walking the last 20 kilometers - we got rain. On the one hand - that did not make us happy - on the other - we were finally able to justify hauling rain gear with us for the entire Camino. At one point I was able to make Arlene realize how much lighter her back pack felt since we were wearing our rain jackets and pants rater than hauling them on our backs.  Although we had to cope with rain this day - we made very good time and were standing at the cathedral in Santiago by 3:30 PM in the afternoon. Neither of us - 8 years later - believes that we have actually done this - this was the most adventurous thing that we have ever attempted - just living in a foreign country as long as we did - has been an amazing experience. The adventure does not end there as we still had to visit Finestre - aka the end of the world - before we returned home. When we got to the Cathedral - we were going to get our Compostelas but noticed a security sign stating we should not bring our backpacks- so we decided to check into our hotel room first.  After showering and cleaning up we returned to the cathedral to get our Compostelas - a procedure that took over an hour as the line was fairly long. On the Camino - we learned patience - Spain does not move quickly - the Spanish people do not move quickly - there is more to life than moving quickly - everything is to be savored and enjoyed.  In Lent we learn patience - hopefully a lesson well learned. In Holy Week we pray that God rain His love upon us daily as we walk towards Easter.  Lord - what do you ask of me this day? 

Ancient Camino Marker 

Arlene frowning at the trail - rocks & tree stumps no fun 

Rocks - small boulders - daily challenge - yes
We accept these challenges - life is full of them - walk around & continue 

Chilly morning & light rain - blue raincoat for our packs 

Orange creek - what's going on here?  Always open to surrises

Raining harder - time for torrent jack & rain pants - changing in tunnel

Ninja Dale - rain gear & blue pack covers 

This was our daily lunch Coke + lemon slice and bocadilla - ham & cheese sandwich shared
Man does not live on bread alone - ham - cheese - Coke - prayer also needed

Rain stopped - removed hot sweaty rain pants  

This sign reminded me of my deacon brother in San Marcos, CA - RIP Deacon Jerry 

Dirt changes to blacktop & wind 

The hills never go away 

More shells in the pavement 

Santiago welcome monument 

Santiago, Spain 

Arrived! Back doors to Cathedral

Cathedral Square 

Welcome to  the pilgrimage office 
This office hands out certificates of completion - The Compostela
to approximately 250,000 pilgrims yearly - not all qualify

Waiting to get their Compostela 

More pilgrims waiting 

And still more - about 100 people the day we waited 

Technically - this ended the pilgrimage - as far as the walking portion - more to come to make this a true spiritual experience.  Just because we walk inside a church does not make us a Christian anymore than walking inside a garage does not make us a truck or car.  It takes more than that - there has to be a change inside - our hearts - minds.  Walking through Lent only proves we did the work - participating in the Triduum - celebrating at Easter makes the difference.  Our journey - continues.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 29, 2021

El Camino - The Way #41

Hey what gives there are only 40 days of Lent why are we up to Day #41?  When we talk about the 40 days of Lent - we do not include Sundays which are not included in that period or any special days. Lent is a penitential period within which - in fact - has 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.  Also partly due to confusion between the period of the Lenten fast and the liturgical 'season' or period of Lent  - Since Sunday is excluded in the week - only 6 of those week days are counted as Lenten days. so to that end - there will be a total of 48 posts to this Lenten series.  Confused - good - walking in a fog sometimes actually helps you see clearer once that fog is lifted.  If you are feeling like you are walking in a fog on your Lenten journey - join the club - you are not alone - it is a part of your experience that is special for you. Leave it up to Jesus to sort this out for you. 

Walking in fog - sometimes you just have to 

Once the fog disappears things become clearer -
like this plant whatever it is 

Road construction on the Camino - in our personal lives - everywhere 

Biking the Camino - not as easy as it looks

Lots of pilgrims ahead of us - lunch time 

Only 30 Km left 

Medieval drainage system 

Last small town before Santiago 

25 Km left 

Did it make a noise when it fell? 
Does God make a noise when he calls you? 

Stone stacking getting serious - 21 Km 

Remnant of old Medieval church 

20 Km enough walking for today 

Typical wash line at the albergues - everyone does wash daily 

Our second public/city owned albergue 

We were very close to Santiago at this point - the 100Km walkers are very numerous now - today was very fruitful - we walked about 23 kilometers - some uphill challenges but most was fairly flat. Clothes washed and hanging out to dry - changed into our dry clothes - looking for some afternoon refreshment - waiting for dinner - then time for reflection - more prayers -  bedtime.  Lights out at 22:00

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

El Camino - The Way #40

Bridges - When is the last time that you crossed over a bridge and gave it a second thought - the age - materials used in construction - style of construction - intended use - technology - design engineer - contractor - construction crew - maintenance - terrain - locations being connected - who or what will use it - only a short list of factors to consider when designing and justifying the cost of the project. Bridges transport - people - vehicles - animals - materials - finished goods - individuals - communities. They connect one geographical point to another - strangers to friends - friends to foes - lovers to each other.  On the Camino - we walked or passed by so many bridges we lost count - on this day our trek promised to have us engage four or more bridges - large and small - as well as other Galician delights.  The most important thing about bridges - they connect individuals - like bridges - the Camino connects people - hopefully in these small bridges of new relationships between participants - the entire world would benefit.  In Lent - those we encounter help to create a bridge between ourselves and Jesus. On this Pam Sunday may we draw closer to Jesus as we enter the Holiest of weeks. 

Water fountain in square by the albergue 

Every Neighborhood Has a Square - Every Square Has a Prominent Cross

Entrance to a cemetery 

Leaving Town on the High Road

49 kilometers to Santiago - Note St Gianna Prayer Card on Top

One of our intents on the Camino was to spread the word about Saint Gianna Bretta Molla - so we had been handing out prayer cards we had printed - to everyone we met - leaving at most of the albergues we stayed at -  underneath the cash tip we left at restaurants and cafes. When we finally got to the 50 kilometer marker - we started leaving the cards at every way marker that was accessible - one every half kilometer - by the time we reached Santiago - we had distributed over 150 prayer cards on these markers. After we reach Santiago we  continued on to Finistre and left the final cards there - all totaled - we distributed 600 prayer cards. Some of these cards were left in the prayer card racks in various churches - so with God's blessing - a lot of people will have been introduced to one of our more modern saints.  

Rocks stacked together - the water runs between and under them - bridge 

Slippery when wet 

Serve yourself fruit stand - honor system 

Camino shell everywhere 

Flowers or weeds? 

Tree surrounded by house - needs renovation 

Outdoor Mass for German pilgrim group

Cows watching Mass - Holy Cows 

Modern bridge 

40 Km way marker complete with stones & prayer card 

Approaching town - Medieval wall - albergue - dinner 

Restaurant sign promoting octopus - Pilgrim Menu - Raciones - a plate of tapas - snacks

Cooking Paella outside the restaurant - the smell attracts customers  

raw octopus 

At this point we had three more days left to walk to the Cathedral at Santiago to reverence the bones of Saint James.  We tried the paella and the pulperia/octopus - paella was ok - not a fan of octopus - tended to be very rubbery - very difficult to cook so we were told. Just because we have a difficult experience or mediocre meal does not mean that we immediately reject in the future.  Bad prayer experience? Try another.  Religion - spirituality is not a one size fits all - as individuals - God comes to as in ways that connects with our spirit - not necessarily with all.  For each there is a WAY - not identical - rather similar.

Deacon Dale