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!