Pastor Julie's notes and photos on her pilgrimage along the Camino del Norte

Monday, July 22 Lavacolla 

I thought that the last update I wrote “on the very last rocks at the end of the world” was going to be my last one... but sunset last night in Muxía was beyond beautiful, so I wanted to share those images with you!!

I took a bus back into Santiago this morning, and sat for awhile in the Praza do Obradoiro (the pedestrian square in front of the Catedral), and watched waves of pilgrims reach their destination.  Particularly interesting were two different youth groups who both arrived coming in singing, chanting, dancing and waving banners.  The plaza can be a place of great emotions for those pilgrims who have made it through various difficulties and experiences.

Closing my time in Santiago, I had planned to take a city bus out to the albergue.  I had asked two different Santiago Tourism personnel where I was to catch the bus (I wanted to double check).  As I waited in my location, I started getting a sense that perhaps this was not correct.  Using my well developed, “is this the stop for the airport bus??” Spanish, I learned in fact, it did not stop there.  Getting some new information (which I didn’t fully understand), I went and found a bus stop in this new location.  After settling in, I started sensing again that I was still not in the correct place.  I must have looked a bit forlorn because a young German pilgrim woman, who was walking past me, stopped in front of me and asked me directly, in English, “are you lost?”  And for the umpteenth time, I admitted, yes.

Was I looking forlorn, or are the unexpected angels simply always strolling nearby, just ready to help???

I have been given help by these very angels throughout my time on the Camino, and at least once or twice, I was told I was the angel.

That’s who we are to each other...we extend love to the lost, and we allow others to love us when we are the ones who are lost.  On any given day, we could be both the extenders of love, and be lost just minutes later.  This human walk of ours....it can be so beautiful and extremely tender.  But that’s why we “do church”, so that we have practice with being honest, as well as bold and tender.  We are so lucky!!!

Just one last night of sleep for me here in Spain.  My heart is bursting in awe from this experience!!

I will plan to do a forum after church on Sunday, August 11th to share more reflections and answer your questions, as well as share some more photos of the journey.  I hope you can come!  Invite your extended community to join us for worship that morning and the forum.

I look forward to seeing you all in person!!💕

  

Saturday, July 20th
On the rocks, at the end of the world, Muxía 

Hello, dear Ones!!

Well.... I cannot quite imagine that it is possible to be this close to the end of this Camino experience.  I have one last day in Muxía, then on Monday I will take a bus into Santiago de Compostela, and then fly out early Tuesday morning to Madrid (then fly to Dublin, then Chicago, and finally into MSP close to midnight!).

I have been so profoundly grateful for these last days in Muxía... I am realizing I am a kind of person who does better when I can settle into a place (and into my self), then having to constantly navigate multiple transitions and new experiences constantly.  It was an amazing (and challenging and incredible) opportunity to walk Camino, and these days in Muxía have been such a gift to decompress and anchor back into Indwelling Christ thru the intensive centering prayer practice.

I am literally writing this on the rocks in the shadow of the lighthouse (Faro de Muxía), as the tide is coming in.  I have been reflecting on how both the constantly churning ocean, as well as the steady, ancient stones, reflect different ways God is present in our lives.  The Holy Spirit is like the ocean, ever moving and beautiful, and God’s steadfastness is like these stones....a place we come to thru the eons.

Thank you for coming along with me!! Thank you for the support and prayers which truly sustained me in the trickiest times.  And thank you for opening your heart up to.....what??? Maybe it is that you have been willing to be surprised by God along with me during these days!!!

For the ways our prayers have been trodden into the land of Spain, alongside the prayers of pilgrims from thousands of years....certainly, we are all connected and At One.

Blessings and care to each of you!!  
Buen Camino!

 

 



July 16th, Muxía 

Hello dear ones!! 

Well, my Camino has opened up into new dimensions, probably due to the addition of the intensive centering prayer practice.  A couple of days ago I was uncharacteristicly agitated during practice, and then yesterday I was experiencing a lot of releasing of grief—my guess, stored from earlier in my life.  And I have been noticing that even walking around Muxía that my body has felt sluggish and slow.  There’s a hill I walk up to go to the place where I watch the sunset, and even without a pack, the hill takes some effort.  It is my sense that the sluggishness is the grief in my body.

Given this new development, it seems like my Camino’s work is rich and actively unfolding here in Muxía.  I have just made arrangements to continue at the albergue through Monday morning, when I will take a bus back into Santiago de Compostela.  I have a reservation to stay at the albergue I stayed in at Lavacolla, and then they will drive me to the airport for my flight leaving early Tuesday, the 23rd.

Today as I was walking around Muxía, I started hearing loud boomings and fireworks (in the middle of the afternoon!).  I followed the noise and found myself at the waterfront, where the big fishing boats were decorated with trees and flags, circling around the harbor, loaded with passengers!! And on the wharf, men in costumes dancing to bagpipes and drums!!  I asked my albergue owners, and today is the Feast of St Carmen, the patron saint of wayfarers.  Muxía is located on the famed Costa de Morte (Coast of Death), known for it’s especially treacherous, rocky coastline which has seen many shipping accidents.  Celebrating the Feast Day is an annual event, and I feel so lucky to just happen to be here to witness it!!  I have come to really appreciate Muxía, so this seems like another glimpse into these lovely people!

  

 

Saturday, July 13th Muxia
Phil has taken the time to transcribe the prayers and blessings you all have left for me—and they have been powerful to receive!! Thank you for your continued presence on this journey of Camino!!

I have made a decision to extend my stay here in Muxía 4 more nights.  I put my hiking boots on yesterday—the first time since I hiked into the village.  The great news is that my blisters are healing, but I can tell my feet not ready for the trek down to Finisterre.  So, a bit more rest is ahead.

When I could tell I might be here for a few days, it occurred to me that perhaps I could structure my days in a similar way as when I attend the centering prayer extended retreats.  So, I have developed a rhythm here in Muxía where I am doing 3 twenty minute meditation sits, 3 times a day.  So, not only would the Camino heighten the awareness of the ego, but now I have a way to continue this work even when I’m not in a full day walking mode.  These practices are very rich in tandem, and I have deep gratitude for having these retreat experiences in my past to support  and inspire me now in these days.

Two of my favorite ways to spend my time here in Muxía is simply sitting on these ancient, ginormous rocks at the edge of the ocean, and similarly,  sitting on said rocks and watching the sunset.  It is noteworthy that I have such an impulse now to stay still and ponder.  Every day new rounds of pilgrims either hike in or bus in, some for only a few hours.  I watch them scurry around with their cameras, and it fills my heart with gratitude that I can simply stop and be here.  Huh!! That makes me think of that Thich Nhat Hahn writing I’ve referred to earlier—about arriving in each step.  What a utter gift it is to have a sense that I have arrived in Muxía!!!  Truly, a gift of grace!!

One of the images and thoughts which keeps returning to me here (at the end of the world!!!) is this vocational call you might have heard me talk about before—this sense that I am to be a midwife for the church.  I find myself wondering if there is a way to be of service to other communities or organizational bodies coming to edges of evolution.  And I wonder if our story of Edgcumbe—being transformed by spirit and deepening into trust and forgiveness—is for us to share....  My sense personally is still a very active and dynamic call thru Edgcumbe, but perhaps new opportunities to share our stories might open.  I don’t have any concrete ideas or agendas with any of that, but I’m curious if there might be ways for us to be of service to the Living Christ—who can be found in the embodiment of community.  If you’re willing, I would appreciate if you would hold this in your prayers, too, as I do in mine.  The doors will open if it is to be...  we can see what the Holy Spirit has up her sleeve!!

It is an amazing thing, this adventure of being human.  Thank you for walking around with me!!  👣🥾Blessed be!!

 

 



July 11, Thursday 
Muxía—the end of the world, part 1

Hola, peregrinos!  Welcome to the end of the world! I arrive in Muxía on Tuesday after 4 long, hard days of walking with my backpack.  It’s taken me a couple of days to recover to be able even to think about sending out an update.  I developed 3 new blisters which had me quite cobbling by the end....but I also knew it was a “limited” distance, and so I cared for the blisters to the best of my abilities and simply went s.....l.....o......w!

I have gotten some feedback from other pilgrims to my wondering about “failing” the del Norte. Their simple response is that a person cannot fail  in doing a Camino… a pilgrim simply experiences the Camino. When I was in the spiritual conversation groups in Santiago, the leader suggested that a part of the Camino is the inevitable breakdown of the ego.  It is true that I have experienced this process, however I don’t think I have words for everything yet—which is to be expected, I suppose. It’ll probably take me months, even years, to understand all the ways of my experience. I suppose that is meant in the pilgrims blessing when it says that the Camino begins when it ends.

Muxía is one of the 2 villages (the other, Finisterre, or it’s Galician name of Fisterra) where pilgrims walked to for sacred intentions, journeys which pre-date the Christian Camino.  The village of Muxía is quite quiet, and built upon a rocky point into the Atlantic Ocean.  I cannot quite describe the rocks here at the end....other to acknowledge that they are gorgeous, gigantic, and have a powerful presence.  It is understandable that eons of humanity have been drawn here to connect with the Sacred.

I have a fair amount to discern regarding my remaining time in Spain....I have thru Saturday booked at my albergue, but I am pondering extending it.  Then I am discerning going to Finisterre, and if to walk there or not... Some other pilgrims have mentioned that Finisterre is a much more lively atmosphere with lots of pilgrims.  Currently, I am super appreciating the rugged quiet beauty of Muxía....and I would like my right foot to heal up some more before I think of putting my hiking boots back on.

Thank you for your continued prayers!!  I also hold you all in my own as well!!  Blessed be!

  

  



Saturday, July 6th 

Negreira, Camino Finisterre-Muxía 

Hello from day one on my new Camino!  I got to spend two days in Santiago de Compostela.... and that was quite something! The Catedral is so beautiful, however they are renovating the interior before the Jubilee in 2021, so I only saw scaffolding inside. I did see the urn that is said to have the remains of the disciple James.  Saint Francis of Assisi also spent time in Santiago just a bit over 800 years ago. Often times these people of faith seem distant to me, so I was surprised to feel how close they were to me in the city.

One of the gifts of spending some time in Santiago was that I got connected to an English speaking pilgrim support center.  It is run by a couple nuns from London, and they offered a cup of tea at any time, and groups to be able to reflect on your Camino experience. It was exactly what I needed, and I found it very helpful. It was in those conversations that I begin to reflect on my own experience of the past three weeks. I realize now that I navigated through a bit of trauma in the first weeks for having so much of my world turned upside down. And I think now that in those early days, I was more in survival mode then being able to be present. However, because I jumped certain stages with the bus in Del Norte, I now have space and days available to do the full Camino to Muxía and Finisterre. It kind of feels like a gift, to be able to take everything that I have learned and have gone through over the past three weeks, and to be able to begin again. I feel so lucky. 

One of the questions I reflected on through the Pilgrim Center was, “What things have learned on Camino??”  Here is a sampling from my list:
  • I am willing to say yes to the spirit even when I am not on board with her.

  • You don’t have to love (or even like) something to be called into it.

  • This entire experience was beyond me, and yet, here I am...I am not dead.  So, even though it was beyond me, and I resisted it, eventually was able to yield to it and surrender to the Camino.

  • I am super grateful for this opportunity and I did not do this alone, between spiritual support of prayer and the kything of the centering prayer folk, materialistically through all of the borrowing from other peregrinos…. financially, through the generosity through EPC, and other pilgrims ….  even though I am one, I am Many….

  • Centering prayer is hard to do when I am survival mode.

  • Kything is real and works.

  • The Camino can be elevated to god….and it is not.  Just like the church can be elevated to god, and it is not god.

  • It is hard to connect with god when I am in survival mode….and even though I did not feel connected, I still reached out to god and absolutely yelled at her asking her what in the world she was thinking by having me go on Camino

  • That I have a pretty astounding experience of community in my daily life with my family, ‘hood, EPC, recovery, and more….

  • I am probably stronger, wiser, and holy than I would ever allow myself to consider.

  • I have a learned a great deal about blisters, swollen ankles/feet, and dehydration….and to not underestimate the impact on a body when it is not getting enough water.

  • I think by traveling by myself, it is allowing me to see the people around me, especially the people working in the places that I am at ...and I am remembering that, truly, I find people interesting and they have their own simple beauty.

  • That I am being given a “second chance to do the Camino”, and I am afraid that I will fail again…..did I fail the first time?  Well, I was so traumatized that I was in survival mode for much of it...so that felt like failure...but perhaps that wasn’t failure?.

And I’ll close by saying that while I was in Santiago, in one of those spiritual direction groups, I met two gals who grew up in Roseville.  One just graduated from Saint Olaf, and she has been using art as a way for connection with people on society’s edges.  We exchanged contact information, so I’m hopeful that we can bring her work to Edgcumbe. I have had many and numerous unexplained intersections with random people.... and for the people in the know, they would simply say, “that’s how the Camino works.”

  

 



Wednesday, July 3 Lavacolla 

It is 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and I have just walked six hours, under an intense sun. My albergue  doesn’t open until 1:30 PM, so I figured this is a perfect time to do an update!  

I am in my last 10km before I arrive at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. And I wondered if I might see the spires of the building as I started descending towards Santiago, but I have yet to have any sight of it.  

I joined Camino Frances yesterday, amidst all of my reservations about how busy and full of pilgrims it is.  However, there are usual stages at this point of the Camino, with lots of lodging options at the 20 km and 40 km distances. I entered into Frances midway between sections, so my walking rhythms are off from those pilgrims on Frances. In fact, I have had very little interaction with the throngs I have heard about. This is an unexpected and delightful surprise.

I had sadness leaving the del Norte. She has been a powerful teacher for me. But I suspect I still have much to learn on Camino. I will have two days in Santiago, then I will begin the final Camino towards Finisterre and Muxía, the “ends of the earth”.

Thank you for coming along with me, and for continuing to hold me in your prayers!!!  I am profoundly grateful for this experience and opportunity, and for your generous support of me, as well.

¡Buen Camino! 💗

  

 

Sunday, June 30
Sobrado dos Monxes, monastery 

You are all nearly finishing worship this morning, and I have been holding you in my heart.  Today was the dedication of Deb’s trees in the backwoods. I listened to her album yesterday, Tresses of Green, as I was walking through densely green pathways, and she felt so near to me, singing with her angel voice. May this morning be filled with the love that she was and still is.

I am writing from a monastery where the Benedictine monks and nuns have been on site since the year 952. I can’t even quite comprehend that time frame.

In these past few days, I have gotten opportunities to connect with more pilgrims, and for that I am very grateful. It has made me appreciate community all the more.  Being a worshiping body is a living entity and a very sacred experience. It gives us an opportunity to not only be ourselves, but also more than ourselves, because we become one together.

Speaking of community, I want to give a shout out to the Tuesday afternoon centering prayer group. Centering prayer has been the single practice over the past 10 years which has deepened my connection with the indwelling God. In some ways it allows me to I breathe.  I knew that it was going to be hard to translate my Centering Prayer practice to the Camino. So the Tues group has been holding me when they gather. It has taken three weeks, but my Centering Prayer practice has finally found some roots. I often do my Centering Prayer before I even get out of my bed, and then once again when I arrive at my new destination.  Thank you, CP-ers!!!  I have appreciated your long distance support!!

I am getting close to Santiago de Compostela.  If my blister can continue to be cared for, I am on a schedule that will put me into the city on Thursday, July 4th.  It will be my own kind of independence day- the parallels are ripe!!

Holding you all in prayer!!

  

June 28, 2019 * A Lagao/albergue a lagoa * 3:40pm* Friday

This note is from Julie's journal, not her blog update (Ron):

Hello, at-one-within-me-ness….in this holy moment, you be in charge, and I will follow you, trusting that your direction leads to peace.  

Well...I only walked 8.1 miles today (12.9 km), but it was by far the best and most enjoyable day of walking yet!!...in these 16 days of walking that I’ve done….

I’ve been haunted...no, not quite haunted, but convicted?  Inspired? Chagrined? Had clarity? Clarity is closest...by Thich Nhat Hanh’s words ...arrive in each step ...and, just that clarity alone is profound. Not only have I not oriented to arriving (either here on the Camino or in my “regular” life)—and I can recognize the cost by not be-ing arrived— but that even when I hold the desire and intention to arrive, I can hold onto it for about all of 2.3 seconds (if I am lucky) before it flies out of my consciousness.

Well...that all changed today with my blister.  I started off the morning quite padded up and supported in my feet...and the walk was quite nice.  But, then I could tell that I needed (and wanted) to stop and rest and get my socks off my feet. I never passed anything that looked like something to sit on, so I decided to simply plop down on the side of the path.  By this time, I could tell that my paddled up blister was actually worse. But, today (whoo hoo!) I had my blister supplies with me, so I threw on some moleskin on top of my compeed bandage (with a hole cut out for the blister).  So, that was lovely, but I could tell, standing, that it wasn’t going to be enough to make the heel agitation go away. I was going to need to stand and walk on it differently. So, essentially, I was present every time I put down my right foot, trying to balance differently and hold my weight anew in my stance.  So, with each landing, I was in the moment.

An unexpected gift from my blister.  One which gave me the opportunity to remember how I’d like to be regularly.  Arrive, in this foot step.

And, then, part 2 of the gift of my blister.

The idea came to me again...that everything is an extension of love, or it is a call for love.  And, not putting too much discernment into which was operative with the blister, but it occurred to me that I could send love to my blister and my heel ...so I brought my awareness into my foot, and started sending love.  And the first thing I noticed was that I had energetically walled off my heel, as if a bubble of nothingness existed in that space. (Just now...I find myself wondering—did that come from my habit to deny and “overcome”, like, did I energetically void that space “to make it be better”???)  So, after encountering that bubble around my blister, I continued to send love to that area and fairly quickly, I could feel that energetic bubble dissolve, and the love brought energy back into that space of my heel.

Which made me wonder if this dynamic translates into other realms.  Are there emotional or spiritual blisters that are caused out of irritations in my life, just like the physical blister that developed out of irritation?  And, have I tried to ignore and deny these emotional and spiritual blisters, which has, in essence, created a void within myself. And, what would happen if I instead, sent love to those very specific places of agitation and blister-ness….  could it, too, open up the energy of that space and bring life again to it??

So, all in all, having intention putting my foot down, sending love to myself, and going slow made this my favorite day of walking yet.  I could actually savor the experience, because I was simply right here.  And it didn’t serve me to see how long I still needed to walk.  All I knew to reach the albergue...my best move was to place my foot down, with care.  And by extension, the Camino became an opportunity to care for myself with a real and practical experience.

 



June 27 Vilalba 

After three days of strenuous walking, a tender ankle and a new blister (!), I decided for a rest day in Vilalba.  It is interesting to me why this particular Camino arose for me. I have heard from other programs that the Camino Francés is far more spiritual. And pilgrims often note that the Camino del Norte is more physical.  The spiritual comes far more easily for me. And often my biggest learnings (read: struggles) come in the physical realm. So perhaps this is about me reckoning with having a body. I certainly know that yesterday, after my body was so worn out, I emotionally crashed as well. I don’t have any of that figured out...I am pondering the connections.  Finding the intersections and wholeness of being a spiritual being in a human body.

The walk here yesterday was beautiful, very foggy. And tomorrow as I get to Baamonde, I will be entering the last stages before Santiago de Compostela.  To receive a Compostela, the certificate acknowledging the journey of the Camino, a pilgrim has to walk at least the last 100km before Santiago—and that distance begins for me tomorrow. I have some mixed feelings about getting a Compostela, but I’m holding open to the possibility.  

Also as I look ahead at the housing options, it looks like some places won’t have Wi-Fi. This means I am not sure how often I can update in the near future. Regardless of that, trust that I am holding you in my prayers.

  



Tuesday June 25 Abadín 

Two significant developments have taken place since I’ve last written. The first one is that I have entered into the mountainous lands of Galicia.  I honestly had no idea that Galicia is known for having very little flat land.  The mountains here make the first days of the del Norte seem like simple hills.  

The second development is that I connected to a service that transports backpacks.  I first contacted them in Ribadeo when I learned that I was going to need to walk 30km. I knew there was no way I was going to be successful.  And, I have to tell you, not walking with my heavy backpack was an amazing experience! It opened up my ability to take in my surroundings, not be intimidated by inclines, and actually feel joyful.  I knew today’s stage was going to be even harder than yesterday’s, so I contacted the backpack transportation again, and learned that it would only cost a bit more to have it transported every day all the way to Santiago. So, I am now simply walking with the day back, and it is a new Camino!!

Today’s route from Lourenzá to Abadín had 2 options.  The old del Norte route winds around the mountains and is 4 km longer than the new official route.  However, the new route is literally up the face of the mountains, and is described as “more challenging and more scenic”.  I spent a lot of time discerning which to take.  A part of me wanted the more scenic option, but wasn’t sure if I had the endurance to make it.  I ended up encountering a lot of fear within my self—I was surprised by that.  I finally decided to try it, knowing that what even made it an option was not having to carry my backpack.  It truly was quite strenuous, and it was absolutely gorgeous, as well!!

It also occurred to me to share what my walking days look like. In the morning and wake up and repack my backpack, and then soon start walking the Camino. As I first walk in the mornings is the time when I say my prayers for everyone. I start with my family, then I move to Edgcumbe and name everyone, and then I pray for the various things that Edgcumbe is connected to, like the Centering Prayer group, the art playce ministry, the backwoods, and for the 12 step groups.  Then I pray for the other places in my life, like the people in my neighborhood.   After a bit, I will stop for breakfast, which often involves yogurt and fruit that I bought previously. Then the rest of my walking time involves essentially talking to God. Some pilgrims walk with another person, but nobody seems to be going at my pace.  And honestly, who can talk when you’re simply trying to catch your breath as you climb a mountain??  So it’s just me and God. And often there’s a lot to talk about with god, so that conversation goes on for a very long time. Then I’ll arrive at the albergue (or some type of housing), and then I unpack my bag, stretch some, take a shower, hang up/air out my clothes, and track down a mercado (grocery store). The menus here involve a lot of flour and sugar, so I am mostly buying fruits and vegetables, yogurt and nuts the feed myself. Today, I fried up some eggs and used up some cheese and bread that I had left over. And that was my dinner.   And then in the evening, I look over my maps and plan out my next day’s route. There are a lot of Germans on the del Norte, so often language barriers are prohibiting me from connecting with other programs. And then at the end of the day, I fall asleep in my bunk and let my body rejuvenate for the next day’s walk.

The past 2 days have been quite challenging, so tonight I am super tired.  Tomorrow I will walk to Vilalba. 

I continue to hold you all in my heart and prayers!!  May God’s Love enfold you and ground you in grace!!

 



 


Sunday, June 23rd Ribadeo, Galicia

Hello dear ones! It is nearly 10 o’clock in the morning, Minnesota time. I am aware that you are all gathering together for worship, and I am holding you in my prayers, and sending you my love!  I pray that the Holy Spirit blows mightily in and through you all as you gather this morning!

I hiked 13 km this morning from Tapia de Casariego, along the ocean, into Ribadeo.  Even though I had a rest day yesterday, I didn’t sleep great during the night time. And so I figured I don’t have to rush, so I can go the shorter distance today. It also disturbed my ego greatly not to go further… So I figured this was the biggest opportunity for forgiveness!

What I can report, is that today was probably the best day of walking I have had as of yet! Hooray! I also found a Band-Aid type substance for my little toe, even my feet did well.  As I was walking into Riverdale, I passed by the main church on the central plaza. The whole front walkway had palm branches and flowers scattered over the front sidewalk. It turns out today was the first communion for some of the children. It was such a big deal for this community! These children were dressed beautifully, their families also so well-dressed.  I wasn’t sure of the timeframe so I went to check in at the albergue. But when I came back  into town, some pilgrims reported that a procession of the Corpus Christi and the children had just happened through the center of town.  The main streets of the city were still crowded with the towns people all afternoon! Quite fun to see all of it!

From here begins the assent into the mountains towards Santiago. I am hoping it is nothing like the first days on the del Norte.  The towns will be a bit further away from each other again. So, it means that I will need to be in the moment as I walk. If I’m getting tired I’ll have to look for the albergue, and not stick to “my” agenda.

I’ll leave you with a brief encounter that I had yesterday with a peregrina from Germany. She had walked the Camino Frances in another year, and commented how different the del Norte is. One of the ways she mentioned was that along Frances, many of the churches remain open for the pilgrims. On del Norte, she replied, there were very few, if any, opened. And she talked about the impromptu worship experiences in those spaces. And before you knew it, the two of us were singing, “Bless the Lord, O my Soul,” (Taize) together in the bathroom!! 💕 It was really quite beautiful!!  And it filled my heart with warmth.

And so I’ll leave you all as you are beginning your worship this morning. Know that I’m holding you in  my prayers!!  May God‘s love surprise you in unexpected ways in these days!

  

 

June 21st Tapia de Casariego

Rest!!

Just a quick update to say that I jumped ahead again a bit and am now in the coastal village of Tapia de Casariego.  And the most exciting piece is that I am in at this albergue for 2 nights, meaning tomorrow can be truely a day of rest!!

On the train this morning there were various sets of peregrinos shuffling between the stops near the Camino, and I overheard some talking about the muddy conditions.  It has been misting a great deal, and I did walk in rain yesterday.  As a side note, I am surprised by the vast numbers of snails and slugs I have passed!  From the other pilgrims I then heard talk of the injuries resulting from slogging through the mud.  I was super grateful to be bypassing those sections!!

The albergue that I am in is on a cliff over a cove. I wish you all were here in this moment to hear the waves crashing upon the rocks....it’s so blissful.  However, there is a pretty strong clip of sea wind, also, so you’d also need to be bundled up!  I have practically every piece of clothing I brought to be out here!!

A thank you to Ron for getting the posts on the website.  I am happy to bring you along!  (And just so grateful I don’t have to carry you in my backpack—it’s already heavy enough!)

Peace to you all!!

 

 

June 20th Avilés
Hello dear ones! Yesterday I took a bus into Gijón, and promptly hiked 5K to the municipal albergue (which, of course, was completely uphill!!). When I found the place, I learned that had actually been closed for over a year now. Oddly, I was surprisingly at peace. I found the closest park bench to sit down out and regroup. I started praying, and asking for a miracle. An older woman came and sat down next to me. We had a very unusual conversation, as she told me that she was a piano soloist. Then she looked at my bag, and commented how big it was. I told her I was muy loco (very crazy) for having it, and the two of us laughed so hard. For bringing laughter into that moment, I told her she was an angel. It was very beautiful.

It’s still noteworthy to me how calm I felt hiking back into the city. I’d like to report that the miracle that I asked for was grand. I passed by a very expensive hotel, and felt a nudge to ask them if they’d have a room for a peregrino? They didn’t. But as I was walking, I re-looked at my map. And there was a Pension, a cross between a dormitory and a hotel, which I had not tried yet. So I think my miracle came in just my ability to re-imagine “what I do” and try something new. Which come to think of it, feels like what this whole trip is about.

After getting settled into the Pension, I got time to explore the city. And there were four huge, gorgeous churches there. And one of them, Iglesia de San Pedro, had the most amazing, beautiful, mosaic chapel. My pictures aren’t going to do justice to it. But I kid you not, it was singularly the most gorgeous space I had ever been in.

Today I hiked from Gijón to Avilés. I have learned a few things about myself, and how I best need to walk. One is that I need to walk slower. Secondly, I need to go shorter distances. And thirdly, I need to rest more often. Gratefully, I remained in a relatively good state of mind. Unfortunately, my body didn’t fare so well. It looks like my sinus infection hasn’t fully resolved, and I’ve had significant trouble with blisters on my little toe, which got another blister today-albeit in a new place on the toe. And finally, my calf muscle appears strained, even with my slower pace. I am grateful for the stability of my emotional and spiritual self, but my physical self continues to be a teacher. I hopped some stages so that I could move slower, and it looks like I will need to recalibrate again. I’ve been told you don’t walk the Camino—it walks you. Clearly, the student still has much to learn.

You are all very present to me, in my heart and prayers. Thank you for your continued prayers for me as well. Deep peace to you all!



  

  




Tuesday, June 18th
Santander
Hello dear ones, and greetings from Santander. It is almost incomprehensible that it’s only been a week that I left Minnesota. This has truly been a journey not only of miles, but of my soul.

After partially resting with my sinus infection, I left Portugalete on a city bus, and met up the Camino up by Pobeña. There the Camino walks alongside the ocean, which is the Bay of Biscay. It was truly glorious. That night I stayed at an albergue and shared my first pilgrim’s meal.

Feeling mostly better, I “planned” for the next day to make up the pace, hoping to cover a bit over 20 miles. Perhaps you can see where this is going? What I know now, and didn’t know then, was that my backpack is way too heavy to sustain a 20 mile walk. I can start out OK at the beginning, but I am so worn out as the time continues, I am beyond bedraggled.

Complicating matters, I was in a stretch of the Camino where the albergues were far between. I completely pooped out in a place where there was no place to stay. Luckily, the hospitalero mentioned a bus I could take to Laredo. However, where he told me I could pick it up, was not the right place. This led to countless humorous exchanges between me and local people trying to find out where the bus would be, and what time it would come. Suffice to say that my desperation led me to being bold in my attempts to speak Spanish.

I spent yesterday really struggling with how much I was struggling. As I wrote about my state of being last night, I realized that my enneagram 4- ness was demonstrating itself. When I am not in a great place, envy starts to show. I was comparing my physical ability to others. I was comparing my struggling with other people’s happiness.

I have been reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s reflections, Walking, and in what I read last night, he talks about arriving with each step. And I realized, that I really haven’t arrived here at all. The goal of “getting to Santiago de Compostela” has been the singular focus. Which I am now realizing, is very wearing on my soul, because it is future oriented.

The peregrinos from Minnesota kept telling me, “there’s no right way to do the Camino.” So, I surrendered everything to God last night. So now, I am holding for discernment where my next place is to be. Today, I am here in Santander. And all is well.

I must admit, that yesterday I was a little embarrassed at the thought of reporting to you lovely people how much I am struggling. I felt quite un-evolved for not “ loving the Camino”. But then I remembered that everything is either an extension of love, or a call for love. And so, it didn’t seem like I was extending love, so it occurred to me, perhaps I am calling for love. From myself? From God? The answer of course is yes, to both.

In thinking about asking God to show Love to me, I admit I was a little curious at what might happen. But today I took a bus here, and I had extra time, so I went to the cathedral and prayed. I sat in on the prayers of the hours, and the people sang, essentially, “Rest in god. And let god be God”. Ah, yes.....to rest, exactly what my soul has needed.

Dear ones, thank you for holding me in your prayers. I too pray for you daily, and even let a candle today for the community of Edgcumbe. May the Holy Spirit be in charge of us all.

  





Saturday evening, June 15th, Portugalete 
Well, I knew that I would be challenged to my physical limits on Camino ...and I can report I have encountered many points where I know I cannot take another step....and so I tell the Spirit to do the walking.  (Surprisingly, this is working.... I was willing to sleep under the tree I had stopped and rested under, but shockingly, I am in my bed at the Albergue). 

Compounding this dynamic is the fact that during the night last night, I came down with a sinus infection.... and I downplayed the impact on me, so I had higher expectations of my abilities....again, another ego crush to be utterly, physically worn out.

I am already adjusting my hopes for tomorrow....letting the exhaustion of my body being accounted for....

Finally, I will say, that in my hardest moments, I am praying for each of you, by name, as well as offering prayers for a broad spectrum situations and people.  I am grateful for your prayers, and I am praying for you, as well!!

Peace to you!!

  

June 14th/ San Sebastián

Wow!  I am really in Spain and walking the Camino!!  My heart and mind are so full, but here are a few glimpses:
-seasoned Camino walkers knew that del Norte was a rigorous route.....and whew!! were they right!  The first day of “walking” was more like traversing altitude.  I was given the suggestion to take it easy the first couple of days, but the first viable option was San Sebastián, so I walked from 6:30a to 4:30p.  And can I say what a crush to the ego it is to be passed by everyone (that is not a hyperbole, it’s the literal truth).  See, I knew my ego was going to be well illuminated during these days.
-I mostly walked with a gentleman from France, or we were in sight of each other and shared our food.  He didn’t speak English, and I never learned French.  So we haltingly used our Spanish to talk from time to time. At one point, we were joined by a woman from Canada.  She was chagrined that there was never a time we could have a 3 way conversation.
-My legs cramped up terribly last night, so I decided to give myself a rest day today.  In fact, I’m sitting on a bus heading to Bilbao (which was were I was thinking of beginning for quite awhile).  But after I bought my bus ticket, I experienced 2 beautiful things: I got some time to pray in the neo-gothic Catedral de Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd), and I swam at the beach—which the hostel worker assured me was a healing balm to stressed muscles (turns out the water is so frigid it is like an ice bath!).
-By going to Bilbao, I will be by-passing the most strenuous day on the route.  But what this plan might give me is the opportunity to get past Santiago de Compostela, and walk to Finisterre and/or Muxía.  These two villages are known as “the ‘ends of the earth’, and are the places pilgrims have walked to for thousands of years.


  




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