And the Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14a). To pull this off Jesus needed to have a mom just like you and me.
For me the most important theological concept is the incarnation. The fact that Jesus was born into this world, again just like you and me, is incredible telling about the God I worship and how I am to live (on my best days I do try).
Over the last few weeks I have spent a great deal of time wondering through churches and cathedrals across northern Spain. Today I spent the morning in the cathedral in Leon. This is one of my top 3 favorite sacred spaces along the Camino. It is one of the finest examples of the use of light and glass in all of Europe. Unlike so many churches and cathedrals in Spain Leon cathedral in simple and unmolested by baroque art and architecture. The windows are simply magnificent. But non of this is the point of this posting.
As I wondered through the cathedral today it became very clear that the most common theme in the windows and other pieces of art is the relationship between Jesus and his mom – from the beginning of his life until the end. They even have a rather uncommon statue of Mary pregnant. Throughout Spain a common theme in sacred art is La Virgin De La Leche or The Virgin of the Milk. There are statues, reliefs and panting everywhere (especially in Burgos) of the young mother Mary nursing her first born. Unlike so much Spanish art the expressions of the people in these works is almost always very sweet and tended, with Mary and the baby Jesus looking directly into each other’s eyes. They can be quite moving.
There is just something about these works of art that speak of real love to me.
Moms can be amazing. I have been blessed with two of the best, my mother Jan and the mother of my children Priscilla. So on this Mother’s Day I would like to express my love, appreciation and gratitude to all the mothers in my life and all the women and men who have played that roll. Being as mom is about as hard a job as any one person could every take on (I know being my mom was no cake walk) – so thanks.
Happy Mother’s Day and Peace.
Stage 4 Pamplona to Puente La Reina. Todays walk was just about perfect. I started a little later then I like at 7:00 and spent about 30+ minutes walking out of the city of Pamplona. I am not a big fan of the time the Camino spends in Urban areas. It tends to be hard to follow the path as the markers can be difficult to find. If you loss your way you may need to walk back and find where you went wrong and it is both frustrating and seemingly huge waste of time. It is a times like this that you need to remind yourself that time is one thing you have plenty of. You can probably guess what’s coming next – I got lost this morning for about 15 minutes but was able to find my way back when I saw a couple of pilgrims on the other side of the park from where I was.
This is when the day quickly I proved. One of the pilgrims I saw was Stefano my Italian friend that I prepared dinner with the other night (see stage 2). Stefano is a recently retired doctor (immunologist) from southern Italy and a great talker. Passionate about everything, as far as I can tell, and an amateur botanist particularly interested in edible wild plants (how very Italian of him). The day consisted of walking 5 hours in both rain and sun, both up and down hill and getting and giving a language, cooking and botany lesson, with family and a little politics on the side (in full agreement on all things political that came up). It was a 5 hour conversation with long periods of silence on some of my favorite subjects.
The thing you learn quickly out here is that folks who come to Spain as a group tend to stay as one to the exclusion of others. Folks who travel alone meet far more people and experience the Camino not just through one’s own eyes but that through eyes and life experience of others.
There are all kinds of way to do the Camino
For many of us, myself include, traveling alone can be lonely but if you take the opportunity find others along the ways you can also find a new perspective. One of the wonderful things about my sabbatical this year is that not only am I traveling alone now, but later I will be traveling with Priscilla my wife – the best companion along the way I could ever be blessed to have.
I have not posted in a couple of days and that is due to a number of facts: A. wifi connections have been iffy. B. Tired at end of day. C. Not much to say – just walking and meeting many nice new folks. I have met some really interesting people in the last few days, young and old, from all over the world. Shared a meal and bottle of local wine with a 60ish year old man from Slovenia a couple nights ago and learned all about there resent history. It is amazing hoe faith, family and a strong community can get you through most anything – with a joy-filled spirit intact. After I heard about the trouble of the past all he talked about was the blessing of the present and future.
The Camino is traditionaly divided into three segment. As of yestarday I have completed the 1st and before I begin the 2nd or the Masada, I am taking a day off from walking and staying an extra night in the very busy and interesting city of Burgos. Burgos is full of pilgrims doing the same, all limping around enjoying not having a heavy pack on and the sites of this city that combines the modern, the old and the ancient together in that very typically Spanish way.
The two most notable things to see in Burgos is The Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Museum of Human Evaluation. Both fascination and worthy of my staying in town to visit.
My blisters are well under control but I have been having some significant pain in my right foot and it has been making going down hill very painful for the last few days. I thought I knew what was going on but had it looked at to confirm – I was right, I had broken the small toe on my right foot. Painful but not exactly life threatening. Ice and tape and tomorrow I will be good to go.
The Masada is a huge highland plateau representing some 40% of Spains land mass and known/feared/loved by centuries of pilgrims for its featureless landscape, hot sun, many colors and beautiful skis. This is the land that inspired “Don Quixote – The Man of La Mancha.” It is said to be a land that can both bore and inspire – I’ll let you know in a few day. Nice thing is the it is relatively flat which will help with the healing of my foot.
Here are some pics from the last few days: