Saturday, July 11, 2015

CISVAAA Principals' Camino Pilgrimage to Santiago

Day Six: Portomarin to Palas de Rei

Today was a day filled with kindnesses. We began our day as usual with prayer, but today, two of our CISVA colleagues joined us via Facetime. It was a unique experience to be standing in Spain, praying with colleagues in Vancouver. Although the Camino is timeless, this experience of it could only have occurred in our present time. 

Shortly into our journey, we came across a pilgrim standing by the side of the road near a Camino sign. His knee was bandaged and he clearly realized that he was not going to be able to make the day's journey by foot and was hoping for a ride. After a few cars passed, a driver stopped to pick him up and we saw this gentleman later in the day.  It seems as though it is a matter of course that pilgrims are able to get rides from strangers when they are in need.

We stopped for lunch today at a café that, according to the guidebook, was called 'Conde de Waldemar.'  How could we not stop there when we are traveling with Waldemar? However, when we arrived there, we saw that the name had been changed. Our Waldemar was very upset by this situation, but we went ahead to order our meal (it was lunchtime, after all).  A few minutes into our meal, the owner came and presented Waldemar with two shirts with 'Conde de Waldemar' (which means 'Lord Waldemar' apparently) on them. Waldemar's day was made!
Unfortunately, our Michael is having trouble with his heel. While at lunch (at the café formerly known as Waldemar), the doctor who travels with the group of Spanish students whom we have come to know passed by and stopped to chat. He kindly took a look at Michael's ankle and told him to stop at the campsite in which he would be staying that evening and he would tape the ankle for him.  Sure enough, as we passed the campsite, Aciera was waiting for us and happily taped Michael's ankle so that he can make it to Santiago.
We encountered so many people today. One family expressed gratitude to be walking the Camino, as they are getting the opportunity to spend concentrated time together, helping one another through the difficult parts of the journey, and chatting and enjoying one another's company along the way. We met Brigid today. She started her Camino journey yesterday, having decided on the spur of the moment to embark on the journey. She is due to meet a friend in a week and decided to walk 100kilometres of the Camino. She is an Irish woman who is retired and now lives in California. She feels that it is the Lord's work that brought her here and she is so glad that she came. The spirit of cheerful community is palpable on the Camino and we experienced it in very concrete ways on our journey today.
Our day ended with a beautiful Mass at San Salvador Church. The church was filled to the doors with pilgrims and parishioners and the joy was contagious, with the spirit-filled music and the smiling priest.  He had a special blessing for the 'peregrinos' before we left and he wished all of us well on our journeys. He challenged all of us to be apostles of Christ. Although the liturgy was in Spanish and we could only understand the occasional word, we knew we were part of the greater Catholic community and we knew we were welcome.
The Camino can be a powerful journey, but we must bring to it the resolve to see it as something more than a physical walk. The tourist may approach the journey from the point of view of seeing the sights and conquering a challenging hike which can be checked off a 'must-do' list. A pilgrim, however, will approach it as an inner journey after which one is changed irrevocably. It is an individual journey, even for those traveling with others, and one that brings about changes that are unique to each person.

'Lord Waldemar' and his new best friend.

Lunch at the café that was known as 'Conde Waldemar'

An angel on each shoulder. Two of our CISVA colleagues praying with us.

What a beautiful journey!

A little help from a friend?

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