Wednesday, July 19, 2017

After the Camino - Recovery

Here we are after two days recovery. We have met, yet a new set of friends. Two priests and a group of young men (15) who have used the Camino as a retreat to further discern their vocation. They arrived on Sunday, just prior to the Noon, Pilgrims' Mass.

Fathers Nicholas and Joel invited us to join them for Mass on Monday morning. It turns out that they were staying in the same hotel as we, so it made arranging meeting times and places easy. We were given the beautiful chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows for the Mass and our men sang and led the parts. Afterwards we joined for a group photo and headed out for some breakfast. Father Nicholas commented on God's providence in bringing us together as it made the conversation about seminary with his group just come up naturally. Our men chatted with theirs about the program over chocolate pastries and café con leche. We parted company with the plan to meet again later for dinner. 

In the meantime, there was one thing on our mind...

The Barber Shop!

We first stopped by a silver shop as Camilo and Matthew were on a mission for Father Winslow, then with a few small purchases at other shops we headed to the Barber. I had mentioned looking forward to a straight razor shave a few days before arrival and it became our goal, after venerating The good Saint, to get all cleaned up.

The rest of the day was spent praying and relaxing, with a little bit of souvenir shopping...

...until we met our friends from Down Under for dinner. When we met, we realized that almost everyone had a similar idea about the Barber. I guess it's one of the little known Camino rituals. We had a very nice time and then said our goodbyes as our friends were heading to Fatima the next morning and then home.

Tuesday will also be our final morning in Santiago as we will be boarding a train to Lisbon that afternoon for an overnight ride. Our time together as 5 pilgrims is quickly coming to an end.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

We have arrived!!

Saturday, 15 July 2017, one day ahead of plans we set foot in Santiago!

Yes, that's the cathedral behind us. Still being cleaned after at least a year. This is us about 10:30 Saturday morning. We began around 6:00am with great excitement that we were so close to our goal. We were still about 24k away, but that seemed like nothing. So, we started out in silence as we had most days. However, the number of pilgrims began to swell, and as so many joined the flow, it felt more like a parade rather than a hike. Then around 5k from the goal our group broke into song. Well, more like music practice. Matthew W. Dimock, Jr. and Camilo X. Salas-Bowen had arranged to bring the words and music to "Qué Alegría Cuando Me Dijeron." So for almost an hour there was practice. Once we were close, the practice subsided as the excitement grew and distance shrank. Then we reached the outskirts of the city.

I took this photo...

...and Camilo said, "Father, you need to have a picture as well!"

There's always a photo-bomber!

From here we made our way to the Cathedral and as we entered, singing, others occasionally joined in. What a great joy to have arrived. We went to get our certificates and then to Mass. At the end of the Mass was the Botafumeiro, lunch with Camino friends and then to the hotel. We checked in and had a nice siesta.

Afterwards we went for a walk around the city and found the local singing group across from the Cathedral where there was music and dancing, laughter and "one ton tomatoes" (if you have to ask . . .)
Then, finally, a well-earned long night of sleeping.

More to come.

God bless,
Fr. Roux

Santiago Square

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Casual Camino

We rose this morning expecting everything to continue as usual. So, after watching the Running of the Bulls from Pamplona on the morning news, we headed off. Boy were we in for a surprise! 

Pilgrims were coming out from everywhere. Families with mother, father, grandparents and children; older folk, younger folk. Boys with girlfriends, and youth groups. The casual Camino has begun. At the 100 kilometer mark so many people join the Way to make their journey.

Gone are the long stretches without seeing anyone for hours. Now laughing and chatting from those who have just entered are becoming the new norm. It makes our quiet time more difficult, but we will keep trying. We still will begin each day with a prayer and blessing when we mention, by name our particular intention for the day, then we impose our silence and begin.

At dinner tonight, one of our fellow pilgrims, from Germany, that we met a few days ago, lamented the t had begun. We had been calling it the Casual Camino, but tsunami had such a good ring to it. Well, we realized today, if we hadn't before, that this mountain top experience couldn't last. As we begin our final 60 miles we will need to begin to integrate the lessons learned into everyday life. We will need to find the silence even when things around us are growing louder. Hopefully we will also remember the beauty of the world we passed through.

And the confusions we encountered...

And the new friends we met...

Of course this isn't the final post and there will be much more to experience, but this change in the dynamic of the hike does bring to mind that we are almost at the end. It's almost hard to believe that it's almost a year since I began to plan this journey. I had no idea what God had in mind for me and I am still looking forward to surprises from Him.

Until next time, God bless, pray for us and know of our prayers for you.
Fr. Roux