Today we are at the half way mark to Santiago. We have passed through some very desolate landscape marked only by vast fields, undulating hillsides and a few trees. It has been a time for contemplation without the distraction of little towns and ever changing scenery. The juxtaposition of ringing church bells and ringing sheep bells has given us food for thought over these past few days. We eagerly anticipate a view of the church tower in each town and the bells that toll every 15 minutes to mark the passing of time. The ringing bells also remind us that we are on holy ground. Every scene, every landscape, every creature and each pilgrim is on holy ground. Ground that has been tread by our God and by the many seekers whose feet have trod the camino. Last evening we stayed in a Monastery operated by the Sisters of St. Clare, a monastery that it is believed St. Francis stayed in as he walked the Camino. We were so blessed to be in that setting and prayed the rosary and vespers with the cloistered sisters who, of course, prayed in Spanish. We look forward to the bells ringing as we leave in the morning dark and to the distant bells beckoning us to keep walking on God´s path wherever it leads.
We have seen many shepherds leading their flocks in the fields, but last evening in Carrion de los Condes, a flock of about 200 sheep paraded right through the town´s crowded streets faithfully following their shepherd. Many of the sheep have bells to alert the shepherd should they stray from their path.
Church bells keep us centered on the reason for this pilgrimage- to see the Lord more clearly, follow the Lord more nearly, love him more dearly, day by day.( as the song goes). The sheep bells remind us that each of us too has a bell which alerts our Good Shepherd when we go astray. God will never let us out of sight; we will never get lost; we are always in God´s tender embrace.
Next time the alarm goes off, a church bell sounds, or the phone rings, we will be blessed to recall the church and the sheep bells ringing.
Thanks for your comments and prayers on our blog. Since we only have limited internet access, we cannot respond to each one, but please know they are like bells ringing to us.
With all our love,
Ed and Karen