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 9 – Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado
One thing I have learned is that I should look at my elevation map before I leave in the morning – today was a lot hillier then I expected – nice surprise 😳. That said it was a pleasant 16 miles in unexpectedly cool weather (that’s good). Met some nice folks and reconnected with some others.
Not a lot to say about the day or at least nothing interesting enough to need to share – so here are my 2 favorite pics from the day.
Stage 7: Logroño to Najera
For those who do not know me very well let me tell you a little secret – humility is not really my thing. I am very well aware of my white male privilege (that’s what I have friends (you know who you are) and a daughter for) and I trend to either wield it like a sword or carry it like a shield. The sword to fight for justice when my access it helpful (I know I know) and a shield to protect my ego from the world. Now I know that that is not very nuanced, but for this story its enough and its my blog anyways.
My privilege leaves me thinking that I can do anything, the world (and my mom)has told me so.
Like I said humility is not really my goto but the Camino has this amazing way of stripping away your pride and making you come face to face with your shortcomings (its kind of like family that way.) Today was one of those times.
Let me start this tale of woe from the beginning. Last time I walked the Camino I had great problems with my feet. This time so far so good. This year however on the very first day ascending the Pyrenees I wrenched an already bad knee. Needless to say my knees have been bothering me ever since – not a problem, I have had knee issues my entire adult life and I deal (I am very brave)(side bar – A very wise friend, Clarke Hendley, once told me “you know Bob, sarcasm does not translate onto paper” and I have spent my life ever since trying to prove him wrong with little success).
Ok, back to my tale of woe: After my walk yesterday I was really hurting and even got myself wondering how munch longer I could go on. Proof that to much time to oneself and with ones own thoughts can make you think all kinds of negative things. So this morning when I woke up and my knees (yes now plural) were still hurting and I did the one thing I said I would never do – I sent my heavy backpack forward to where I am staying tonight and carried just a small day pack I keep rolled up in by bag for evening strolls. YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND – I said I would NEVER do this and I did. Guess what? A little humility and self awareness can paid off. 30km later I arrived feeling better then I had in days.
Pride has no place on the Camino and as I have learned one more time the Camino is a metaphor for life – A little humility goes a long way.
As we pass through this Easter season its nice for this old priest to remember that everyday has the possibility for resurrection – even if it is just a pair of beaten up pair of knees.
PS – here are a few pictures from the day
The last two days of walking have been beautiful. The weather has been good and the terrain not to challenging. I have come to be convinced that the Camino path was designed by some very talented, yet sadistic, golf course designer, It can humble you and almost bring you to tears one moment and the next, give you hope and encouragement.
We have just two more days of walking and then we will arrive in Santiago. This is a strange thought as until a day or two ago no one seemed capable of thinking beyond a couple of days into the future – one step at a time, one day at a time – that’s how you get to Santiago.
As I will be spending some time in Spain after arriving at the end of this path, I will be share some more and hopefully deeper thoughts with you in the near future. For now some pictures from the last two days will have to do.
The thing about hyperthermia is that it takes your mind off your pneumonia and your feet. But wait, so that you can better understand the last three days I need to take you back. Back to a time long forgotten in a place far far away – or about 6 days.
I was sharing a bunk room with the three Aussies, Stacy a nurse from Big Sir, Ca and Walter. Walter is the largest person from Holland I have ever met (not big as in fat), very tall, big hands, big feet and big heart. As we were waking up at our typical time of 5:30-6, Walter sat up and announced that he was having “angina.” At the word “angina” we all quickly woke up and Stacy was ready to jump into action. As it turns out “angina” sounds just like the Dutch word for sore throat. So Walter was not having a heart attack – he was getting a cold.
Two days later, Stacy was sick and the next day David and I were sick. Lots of congestion and as is usually the case when I get sick, is quickly moved to my lungs and I was running a fever and coughing constantly. So that is the background of the last three days. Sick, Sick, Sick.
Before you start worrying, I have gotten my hands on some amoxicillin (don’t ask) and I am starting to feel better – I plan to be back to my splendid self tomorrow.
The last few days have been interesting. We have climbed quite a bit and done a lot of miles, which is not easy when you can’t breath. That has not been the interesting part. Two days ago we walked through pouring rain, some snow (yes snow), and gale force winds. We walked along an unprotected ridge-line for nearly four hours in some of the heaviest (and coldest) winds I have ever experience.
Lots of fun and amazing things happened as well. At one point it had stopped raining and Stacy and I were enjoying a cup of coffee at a cafe in a tiny little town (I never remember the names of where I am or where I have been) we looked up and there were two huge pigs standing in front of us. One would think this was a strange but at the time it seemed so normal.
A little while later I was walking up a steep, rocky and very narrow incline to be met as they were coming down by a group of 7ish very large cows being herded by a dog and followed by the cowherd. Again you might think it a little strange but at the time it seemed so normal. I have some great video of this but all the rain seems to have played havoc with my camera – hopefully I can share them later.
So you get the point, lousy weather interrupted from time to time by great views, funny happenings and good friends.
I have lots of photos to share of the last three days – hopefully later, maybe I should not be using my camera in so much rain.
The weather seems to be clearing as is my chest and we are only 100km from Santiago.
All is good and I am looking forward to seeing many of you soon, although I will miss this place, the walking (not the blisters) and my new friends.
Somewhere between yesterday and today we pasted the 600km mark. That leaves us with 200~km to go. Today’s walk was really nice and easy. 24km (15miles) of rolling hills through small villages, family farm plots and vineyards. It was a nice break for my feet and a chance for some good conversation along the way. The weather was forecasted to be rainy, but it turned out to be a nice cool day. For those of you who have been wondering the weather since those first couple of days of rain, sleet and snow has been beautiful – far beyond anything that I expected or could have hoped for. The mornings and nights have been cool and the days warm and sunny. All that is about to change.
Tomorrow we begin 2 of the most physically demanding days of the camino, there are three mountain ranges on the Camino and the third starts tomorrow, and it looks like a big storm is on its way – in fact it looks like the sky is about to open up any minute now.
Tonight is the first chance I have had to cook since I have been here. I am making a basic pasta with meat sauce and salad with some good local bread and red wine for the folks I have been walking with. The kitchen is small and poorly equipped in the hostel we are staying in and is presenting a bit of a problem, but no worries – all is well. While it will not be the best meal I have ever made it will be nice to share it with new friends. We eat together nearly 3 times a day but it is always different when you can offer the fruits of ones labors to others and the kitchen table is where I am the most comfortable doing that. It is also always interested to cook for a group of people from a mix of cultures and with a mix of likes and dislikes. If it is not a disaster of a meal I might share some pic tomorrow or the next day.
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: