We took a short walk today. Only 11 kms. We have some aches and niggles in our legs so we thought we would be nice to them. We have stopped in Redecilla del Camino. It is a small town made up of a street of vey old stone buildings and C12th church. Over the busy road are some more modern buildings. But like many small Spanish towns it seems in decline. There are deserted Spanish villages for sale if you are so inclined.
Our devotion this morning was on Eph 2:10. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Physically, at present, the handiwork is feeling a little run down and worn. Yet the idea that our eyes and hearts always need to be open and ready for service is very heartening and life enhancing.
Strange observation: as we were walking along the other day there was a cross. Now many Spanish towns and roads have Christian crosses. But this seemed rather simple and not ornate. I asked Hetty if it was a cross or a power pole. She opted for cross. We got closer and there were three of them. On closer inspection they turned to to be redundant power poles. There is a sermon illustration in there somewhere.
We are currently staying in the town (Santo Domingo de la Calzada) that permanently keeps chickens in the Cathedral because of ‘miracles’ that occurred in the Middle Ages. These involved the returning to life of a German pilgrim and the returning to life of two chickens on the bishop’s plate when he refused to believe the original miracle. Added to this I found a in a local church a sign proudly selling plenary indulgences. If I am right last year was the 500th anniversary of the nailing of the 95 theses against indulgences, by Martin Luther.
The returning thought that comes to me is that for most people the Camino to Santiago is a secular trek. The hostels are handy and cheap for accommodation … and it is handy for meeting the opposite sex.
There are however opportunities to explore one’s spirituality. Some hostels take the Christian discipleship dimension seriously. One such Albergue is in Villamayor de Monjardin where the volunteers at the Albergue Hogar Monjardín see hospitality as a crucial part of their discipleship role. They are planning bigger and better ideas for the future.
I need to see these bright lights as otherwise I would become despondent because the Camino would be just another expression of our slide into secularity. It is wonderful to see Christians take opportunities, like the Camino, and step up to the opportunities.
We crossed the Pyrenees yesterday but not as true pilgrims. We cheated. We took a bus across and passed all these freezing pilgrims trudging through the snow. I felt guilty but not that guilty that I wanted to stop the bus. Our driver told us that he had to pick up a Korean lady who had collapsed on the road from hyperthermia, on the previous day.
We arrived in Villamayor and met the people from a Christian albergue/hostel who make it their business to create a welcoming environment for pilgrims. They are a positive presence in the local villages giving the potential of new life in villages that seem to be dying by degrees.
Now the weather is icy outside. Tomorrow we begin walking the next stage of the Camino. Inside the fire is burning and it is cosy and warm. We are steeling ourselves for the reality to come.
One of the discussions we have while walking is, would we do it again. When the the joints are aching and the feet are sore we answer in the negative but when reflecting in calmer moments we realise the achievements we have made.
I would still love to walk the whole Camino from France but have come to the conclusion that I would do it without a 14 kg backpack.
We went from Villamajor to Torres del Rio. The walk was uneventful. We passed many vines and olive groves. The albergue was fancy but not good for the independent pilgrim. No kitchen or communal facilities. From Torres del Rio we went into Logrono. There were some steep climbs and steep descents. The descents are tougher on the knees than the ascents.
We ended our walk at Logrono and took the bus back to Pamplona. 120 kms of walking was undone in a two hour bus trip.
It was great to meet some fantastic people and to pray intently for certain people and circumstances.
We are back in our tent and looking forward to more of Spain and Portugal.
Day 4 & 5 Camino Continued
Last night we went for a walk before dinner (which in Spain is about 8 pm). Earlier in the day I went to the John the Baptist church and encountered a priest teaching a group of about 30-40 children. Both he and they were enthusiastic. When we returned in the evening a youth choir was practising a series of songs with choreography. They stood in front of the altar and sounded sublime. I said to Hetty, “I want the album!” Seeing children and young people in cathedral like churches is encouraging because far too often all one finds in curious tourists.
Today we decided to have an easy walk of 9 kms to Villmayor de Monjardin.
We ended up at a Christian albergue run by a Dutch evangelical group. It was a nice change from some the big impersonal albergues. We had a meal together and a meditation before bed.
1. Last night on the way from the supermarket we stopped in at a church as the choir was practising. It was amazingly professional and would be the envy of any church.
2. Later we were speaking with a young polish couple. We said that we were Christians and were spending a lot of the time praying for friends and family. The young lady’s eyes lit up and asked if we could pray for her brother too because he had some serious issues to deal with. Then she added that she would like prayer for them as a couple.
3. This morning as we leaving Puente la Riena at 6:30am a group of about 10 men were huddled around a doorway. Cynically I said that they were waiting for the tavern to open. As we got closer we realised that one of the men held a large crucifix. As we got close one man rang a bell and they walked solemnly up the street towards the bridge with us not far behind. At the bridge they rang the bell and started singing. It was amazingly beautiful. I have no idea what the words were but I hope that they were words of faith and prayers for the town
4. Then this morning as our feet were getting tired we looked for a coffee shop but found none open. There was a stone wall fence that we sat on. A lady over the road was sweeping her garage out. She motioned us over and gave us a chair to sit on. She was cooking some delicious meatballs in the garage – as you do. She came over and gave us each one. When we left she wished us a “Buen Camino”. Real hospitality!
Day 3.We stayed at a very friendly albergue (which I have been spelling incorrectly) in Zariquiegui. Breakfast consisted of a sweet roll, black coffee and orange juice. By 7am we were on the road to Puente La Riena via Alto del Perdon a peak which was quite a steep climb and an even steeper and rockier descent. At the top of the ridge is a line of wind turbines which would have excited Don Quixote.
We had committed ourselves to pray for friends and family on this walk (more than usual) and various issues that
have been exercising our minds. As we arrived at the top of the hill, wind and a rain squall hit us. However, in the midst of that we saw a magnificent rainbow. It was a reminder of a covenant God who keeps his promises. It was an incredibly uplifting moment and inspired our prayers.
We went through a number of small villages but sadly they all their churches are closed. I like to go in and pray for the people that attend – as well as have a sticky beak around. Now it is time to find an albergue and then find the pilgrims bridge I first encountered in 2006.
Today we started our second Camino experience but it all happened a bit by accident. We had intended to park the car at Pamplona airport, take a bus to town and then catch another bus to our planned starting point – Larrasoana. Problem: there is no bus service, or any public transport apart from Taxis at Pamplona airport. So we decided to go the whole hog and take a taxi to Larrasoana.
Now this is where the psychology comes in. Neither of us expected to be walking any distance today but here we were walking a quite hilly section towards Pamplona. We missed one place where there were hostels and at the next they were closed for the season. So by the end of the day we were on the outskirts of Pamplona at a hostel next to a church and a C13th bridge. All very rustic and normally the stuff we love but on this occasion we were both a bit narky.
We had a good night’s sleep in the Trinidad Albergue in Villava on the northern outskirts of Pamplona. A French couple came along at one stage to share our room. Mrs French Couple must have smelled my boots and decided to walk a few more kilometres to the next alburgue. The caretaker was quaint and even came around at about 9:30 pm to say goodnight. He might even have wanted to tuck us in.
We left the alburgue at about 6:45 and headed through Pamplona as it was waking up. On the southern outskirts we started a long ascent towards Alto del Perdon – an image often associated with the Camino. When I get there I will take a photo. But we have stopped short at Zariquiegui only walking 16 or 17 kms today as the joints were telling us that they weren’t used to this.
- A taxi driver alerting us that we heading in the wrong direction at one point. That was appreciated.
- A number of people of all ages saying “Buen Camino” as we trudged along.
- A bread stick, ham and cheese tastes amazing when you have had a good walk.
- We encountered a couple begging their way around the Camino. I’m not sure what I think about that.
- You can pick an Aussie accent for miles!
The Familiar Mile Post
Pamplona Waking Up
The Magdalen Bridge
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles … 1 Peter 2:11
A pilgrim was I, and a wandering,
In the cold night of sin I did roam,
When Jesus the kind Shepherd found me,
And now I am on my way home.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,
And I shall feast at the table spread for me;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.
He restoreth my soul when I’m weary,
He giveth me strength day by day;
He leads me beside the still waters,
He guards me each step of the way.
When I walk through the dark lonesome valley,
My savior will walk with me there;
And safely His great hand will lead me
To the mansions He’s gone to prepare.
John W. Peterson & Alfred B. Smith
Categories: Bible, Camino, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized
Tags: Camino, Christian, Christianity, Devotion, Faith
We left Sarria very early this morning. The German couple in our room were still sleeping. They obviously needed the rest. The streets were still, dark and the air foggy. The day began with a mysterious feel. We headed down the road confidently, only to find pilgrims going in the opposite direction. So we checked our map – and turned around. Later we met other pilgrims moving through the darkness and fog with their head lamps shining in our eyes. “Are we going the right way” they asked, “No, you need to turn around,” we replied piously. It is good to learn a lesson you can pass on to others. We walked through little farm hamlets made up of stone buildings. Farmers were milking. Overall, the morning stillness was breath taking. At one stop we read Psalm 84 and a passage where Jesus calls Andrew and Peter. We prayed and moved on. It was too cold to stay. We needed to move.
The countryside although shrouded in fog was green and pretty. When sun came out it transformed the place. It feels alive and exciting. It is fascinating walking with a group of people in one direction. All heading for the same destination
Now we are in Portomarin. Our accommodation is an Alburgue. The dorm has about 30 young Spanish people and us. Tonight should be interesting. The picture below is of a little chapel in Portomarin.