Pilgrims' Potpourri

Reflections on our journey with God

Yellow arrows, our guide! May 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 2:52 pm

Today I was thinking about going home. I realized when we arrive there will be no yellow arrows to follow the way any longer. This will be very different since we have come to rely on these arrows, our Brierley book, Camino de Santiago and its fine descriptions of the paths we will follow and the terrrain, elevations and sites t look at along the way. We also depend on God’s grace and our fellow pilgrim´s who go before us. In this way the Camino is easy to follow. The way is well marked except when it alludes us in the dark morning, in distracting large cities and remote areas that do not have many guides.
When we return the guides will change and we will need to pay attention to the rest of the way for our lives. I appreciate the ease of the yellow arrows and shells. It will be challenging to return and still see the way.
We are nearing Santiago now with only two days of walking left. Our legs are tired, our feet ache and the itching of the bites is relentless but we rejoice that we are here with full bellies, a place to rest our heads each night, sunshine again and renewed spirits. The ultimate challenge for me as a one on the enneagram is to verlk theses imperfections and embrace what God has set before, a continual feast for the eyes, ears, mouth and whole being!!
May each of you be richly blessed with the guides that help you along the way for your lives. We are now in Arzua, about 25 miles from Santiago. With God´s grace we will enter the city on Thursday. Muchas gracias to all of you!


Camino Real and the Real Camino May 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 4:07 pm

Today´s camino brought us through many very tiny villages, farm country and beautiful woodlands. We saw few pilgrims today and wondered what happened to the crowds that had  gathered at Portomarin. We encountered our first rain today as we neared our destination Palas De Rei, a mere 43 miles from Santiago. It is very difficult to describe the sights, sounds and smells on the Camino. It is unlike any walking tour we have been on. The Camino winds through real places and allows the pilgrim the unique opportunity to enter the lives of the real people who inhabit northern Spain. For the most part, these people are rural dwellers who make their living raising livestock and growing vegetables. Potatoes and corn are major crops. As we walked we saw many small farmers milking their cows, tending their gardens and working in their fields. The path was strewn with the manure of the many farm animals who also traverse the Camino getting from one field to another. The smells of animals mix with the smells of wood burning, food cooking and the fragrance of roses, which are planted so abundantly here.  The natives in this area are people of modest means, yet they celebrate life with gusto in the way they tend the earth, plant so many beautiful flowers and enjoy fiestas!  In our travels we have passed many roads in Florida, California and the Southwest that are labeled the Camino Real.  They are usually very majestic roads decorated with flowers, well-maintained and popular with tourists.  There are two very different meanings to Real in Spanish. One refers to the Camino for Royals. These are the Caminos that often attract tourists.  However the other meaning of Real is just like the English, the real Camino, the camino where real people live their lives; The Camino real is not a showcase but a humble path through the lives of ordinary people, like us.  It is a great gift to travel the Camino de Compostela for it is the real Camino.  Jesus spent most of his life on the real Camino, encountering the small people, the people who had no power or prestige in their world.  He brought the good news to these people.  He told them that God did not come to earth to travel the Camino Royal, although God is the King of Kings.  Jesus told the people that God wants to travel the real Camino along side of us, just where we are.   It is interesting to note that the only time Jesus traveled the Camino Royal was when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  It was on that Camino Royal that he was tried,crucified and died for us.  How blessed we are to travel the Camino real, the road to Santiago.  How blessed we are to travel a road that hundreds of thousands of searching pilgrims have traveled before us.  Each day we encounter the Lord on this Camino just as he encountered the people of his time two thousand years ago.  Buen Camino to each of you as you travel your Camio Real with the Lord as your companion.


Small is Beautiful May 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 3:31 pm

Today, there were many more pilgrims on the Camino than in the past days. Our Guidebook prepared us for the influx of new pilgrims joining the walk at Sarria. It is a perfect spot for those who have limited time to walk to Santiago since it is just over 100 miles away. The additional traffic on the Camino was difficult to adjust to. I(ed) found myself out of sorts, distracted and unable to appreciate the moment by moment experience of the Camino. In addition our feet were feeling the strain of the walk and even our boots showed signs of deterioration at the heels!  Everything wears out some time.   Our attitude changed abruptly when we crossed a swampy area. We heard a chorus of sounds emerging from the swamp but could not detect what was emitting the sounds. After close observation, we found a large green frog and realized that we were being treated to a large chorus of frogs singing God´s praises. We had never heard frogs sound this way. It was quite beautiful. A short while later, we came across a very tiny mouse who had run out of her little hole in the ground and was forgaging for food. We watched the little creature with delight for several minutes and even got to take some pictures of this cute little mammal.  The mouse brought a smile our faces and restored our centeredness. It made us realize that God is not always in the big things, the beautiful sunset or the mountaintop experience, but God is often found in the small and insignificant places, if we only take the time to seek God´s presence.  For a moment, we seemed to have lost touch with God, but the frog chorus( as beautiful as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir could sing) and the mouse show brought us right back to earth.  We were reminded of a valuable lesson today in the midst of the high traffic on the Camino.  We need to Stop, Look and Listen to find God´s presence in our hectic lives.   We will spend tonight in Portomarin,  88 miles from Santiago.  Be assured of our prayers along the way and please remember us and all the peregrinos in your prayers.

Blessings of peace, friends.


Pentecost May 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 3:47 pm

Last evening we attended the Pilgrim´s mass in Tricastela. It is a small town that is nestled by a river and embodies the spirit of Gallicia. We sampled some local specialities including, pulpo a la galega, a spicy octupus dish and a rich shellfish soup called mariscos. But the hightlight of the day besides the scenic walk was la missa. The parish church in town, dedicated to Santiago, St. James, is decorated with 3 castles to represent the castles that give this town it´s name. The priest was very friendly, but a bit longwinded, tried in every way possible to explain the deep meaning of the Camino pilgrimage and to help create community among the people of so many different ethnic and cultural identies gathered for Eucharist.  He selected readers from Italy, France, Spain,  China and the slavic countries to read prayers and scriptures in their  own language and tried to help those gathered feel a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood as perregrinos on the Camino.  He exuded a deep joy and seemed to be fervent in his love of the  Lord and the camino.  However,the language barriers made it difficult for all gathered to connect with him and with each other.  It felt like that first Pentecost with people of so many nations gathered, yet, in this case, we could not understand one another.  Then a bird began to chirp high in the sanctuary and started to fly back and forth above the altar.  The priest looked up, smiled and acknowledged the heavenly visitor and everyone in that church laughed.  The bird spoke a universal language and, in an instant, all the perregrinos were one.  Our laugther was another universal language that united us, simple,weary, searching, pilgrims around the altar for the Word of life and the body of Christ.  Yes, it was Pentecost in that ancient church and God was speaking through a bird once again!!!!!

We are now in Sarria with 88 miles to Santiago. Today is the midpoint of our walk with 5 days left to Santiago.


Prayers, Miracles and a Touch of Ireland May 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 12:45 pm

Blessings Friends and thanks for reading our blog; we are so grateful to all of you and your comments give us food for the journey. We did make the long trip up the mount to O´Cebreiro yesterday. It took us 9 hours but we arrived and what a place. Perched high on a mountain overlooking the De Valcarce river Valley, this little town was covered in a mist as we arrived. It gave us an ethereal, mystical feeling as if we had left earth and entered the heavenly domain. O´Cebreiro marks the first town in the province of Gallicia, the last province we will trek through. Santiago is at the far end to Gallicia. The Gallicia is in a micro climate of its own. Mists often cover the verdant green hillsides; the food is of a distinct type unlike any we have had in the rest of Spain; and the people are hardy farmers, and herders. It is said the culture of Gallicia has celtic roots and that the land and climate in this region are similar to the Emerald Isle.  O´Cebreiro is dotted with pallozzas, distinct hut dwellings with straw roofs where traditionally 12 or so people and their animals lived. We felt as if we were in a Tolkien town of Hobbits! We went to a pilgrim´s mass at the Iglesia de Santa Maria, built in the 9th century, it is the oldest existing church on the Camino.  The Franciscans welcomed us and one of them, who exuded the joy and heartiness that is the hallmark followers of St. Francis, told us the story that made this church famous.  It seems that a peasant had made long trip from his home to the church to attend mass during a bad winter storm.  The priest questioned why the peasant was so foolish to make such a trip.   As the priest offered the cup and bread to the humble peasant, the bread and wine actually turned into the body and blood of Christ, and the statue of Mary is said to have bowed her head in adoration.  The remnants of this miracle are preserved in a reliquary in the church.  Miracle or myth?  Actually, it does not matter. For we who are people of faith, like this peasant, life itself is a miracle.  We see with our eyes things that the world cannot see.  That humble peasant saw in the bread and wine, the real prence of Jesus and it was made manifest not for the peasant but for the priest.  Miracles surround us here on the Camino- in the kindness of strangers, in the glory of nature and with each step touching sacred ground.  We pray for all back at home that the miracles you seek and even those you have not imagined yet occur in abundance.  We are now in Triacastela, 101 miles from Santiago. Karen seems to have been bitten multiple times by an insect and so has some pretty large welts over most of her body. They are very itchy, but today we stopped in a small Pharmacia and hopefully the medicine she received will be of  help. 

We leave you with this prayer, a prayer by St.  Nichoals of Flue, a pilgrim of the 12th century, and a friend of all pilgrims:

My Lord and my God, take everything from me, that keeps me from you, my Lord and my God.

Give everything to me that brings me nearer thee, my Lord and my God.

Take me away from myself and give me completely to thee.   Amen

Pray with us that each of us will see God´s miraculous grace each moment, each day!


Asphalt and dirt May 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 3:28 pm

The Camino path wound through many small cities today so we spent a good amount of our 14.5 mile walk ¨pounding the pavement¨. There were a few refreshing breaks through some small vineyards and a path through the woods near a stream. It was very hot, probably in the mid eighties. We noticed that when we were walking on the city streets or pavement, our legs hurt more, our bodies were tense and our spirits were focussed on the hardship of the walk. However, while on the dirt path, we had more energy, our bodies seemed more relaxed and our spirits soared with Mother nature providing the stimulation of storks on the next with their babies, flowers, birds singing and the bubbling waters of brooks and streams.  The Camino path is much like life´s journey. Sometimes we are on hard pavement and it is difficult to be centered and focused on what is really important. At those times, we may miss God´s presence in our lives even though God is right there with us.   When we take the time to get a way, to let nature and good Mother Earth in,  the earth has  way of absorbing our stress and freeing us to pay attention to the moment, the present, the only place God dwells.  Mother Earth is like God´s ever present shock absorber!   We are now in Villaefanca de Bierzo. Tomorrow is one of the last most challenging hikes, 18.7 miles to O’Cebreiro and a gain in elevation of 1,200 meters.  We carry you along with us to Santiago which is now  a mere 120 miles to our east.

Blessings of peace to each of you.


Walking the passover mystery May 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcnedsol @ 3:07 pm

Early this morning, Tuesday, May 24, we left Foncebadon for the long journey to the city of Ponferrada, a city rich in Knight´s Templar history.  The first part of our walk brought us to the summit of Mt. Irago where a large cross was erected. The cross stood upon a pile of thousands of rocks of all sizes left there by Pilgrims for centuries.  We placed the rock we had carried with us since beginning the Camino at the foot of the Cross.  It was a profound moment for those rocks symbolized all the people we have carried with us on this camino.  The rocks contained the needs of our friends and and family members.  The rocks contained the suffering of so many and the burdens so many of you have shared with us– the sadness, dreams dashed,  loneliness, death of loved ones, sickness, anxiety, the whole gamut of brokeness was in those rocks.  It was a special moment on the camino;  a moment we had walked and waited long for.   Shortly after the starkness of that moment, we journeyed through a series of moutain meadows. The meadows were lush with wild flowers of every color in full bloom.  There were butterflies all around us, crickets making their voices heard, birds singing songs we had never heard and a pure moutain stream winding its way along the path.  We breathed all of creation in and realized that we had just experienced the passover mystery with our feet.  We walked through the cross of suffering to the Eastery mystery of resurrection celebrated by all God´s creatures in magnificent spendor.   We pray that each of you will experience the passover mystery each day of your lives.  We are grateful that you have shared your journeys and sufferings with us.  It has been a gift to leave them at the Cross as we pray and await the resurrection moment by moment.  Peace friends.