Leaving Logrono was not the thing I really wanted to do this morning. I had hoped to stay an extra day and receive a rest. I say receive because while I, as the driven human, wanted to keep the march across Spain on a schedule, there was something (someone) who was saying rest. I have learned to listen, and to give the body a rest before pains begin, can only be a good thing. The weather wanted to play though, and the reports was for some good rain, possibly thunderstorms, that would turn the clay earth to a muck that would suck my boots in and strangle my feet. So, I thought it best to push out the next 18+ miles, and move onto Nájera. That would make about 37 miles in two days. Now I’m cruising.
So I was ready for the inevitable and had packed the night before. That’s a discipline in itself as in small packages (my backpack) come many essentials that must be routinely placed so as to create a habit and thus an easy find when you need it. I’ve learned that in the raw world of a pilgrimage, it’s best to be well organized. The circumstances one finds themselves in are frequently not of your own choosing, nor that agreeable to your plan. Discipline makes for confidence.
As I left my Albergue I could not help but notice the many last-call diehards in the plaza outside of my Albergue that had literally entertained one another through the night until the dawn. As I left, they had changed from liquor to coffee, yet the babble flowed on as if their tongues where the source of a mighty river. I have learned that this is a part of the European culture – an evening without end – while in America, late night revelers tend to burn out and never make it to the coffee and beyond.
Up the street I went on the Camino, through the old city. It took a bit of careful concentration as there are many city signs that compete with the discreet signs of the Way. I lost my way at one point, but by now I understood one simple trick to finding the Camino; ask someone. I did – each block – until the signs became strong enough that I could rely once again upon my own senses. It was about here when Olaf appeared out in front of me a few yards ahead.
At first my concentration on my destination said “keep moving”, but my radar said “Whoa.”, “I have a task for you”. I’ve found that the Holy Spirit never puts an exclamation point on His sentences. He knows I’m listening.
I caught up with Olaf and ventured a “Good morning.” Olaf, being German, thought I said “Guten morgen.” and was most eager to find out if I was German. Thanks to his education and not mine, he spoke English quite well and we got to talking.
Olaf was searching. He’s a well educated man of 49 years, and plans on spending his fiftieth year, his birthday, in Burgos, his final destination on the Camino. He started in Pamplona, which after my walk from St. Jean, I would say is an excellent idea. The Way from there is a little more of a smooth ride with gorgeous vistas to behold. Olaf is searching.
At some point after we got past the industrial suburbs of the city, and into the calm of the countryside and forests, he asked me what I thought was of importance for him to consider while on the Camino. If only I had published my post on walking sooner, I could have had him read it, but to tell the truth, this is where I crafted what I wrote the next day. I talked about the nature of walking the Camino.
It really was crafted for Olaf. I do hope that other people will come away with something from that post, but Olaf needed to look to the very basic features of his life at this point. He has had a good career in the corporate structure, and had even taken the second half of his career to assist in the recovery of companies that had gone astray from their disciplines and goals. For him, though, this was all a disappointment. Germany even seemed to be a disappointment. I could see he loved his country, yet he saw his country venturing down the path of relativism, and Separatism.
Separatism is a term I’ve coined myself, at this moment. I would define it as a condition of an affluent society that seeks and installs an independence within their own selves; an independence that permits them to meet all their needs within their own independence. In other words, the proverbial self-centered individual. You’ve seen the scenario. The children are glued to their smart phones; literally texting to the next room or across the table rather than talking. Virtual reality has become a reality. The parents are indulged and fixed upon their personal accomplishments and material accumulations, without the slightest examination of whether the road they have taken has the name “Happiness”. They separate in the belief that the community, the family, is enriched by their self-centered destination, obligatory contribution to the whole, and they honestly believe that separation somehow means inclusion. It’s what we call “tolerance”.
For Olaf, this is a vision he wants nothing to do with. He sees what I am talking about, and he wants more than such an empty life. I think he will find what he is looking for and I think he will find it soon, but I cautioned him to one important fallacy as he seemed to perceive that the right career would resolve his search.
NEVER BELIEVE THAT WHAT YOU WANT IS WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU OR OTHERS.
It’s common in our modern society to believe that one’s career – if they earnestly seek a career that meets up with and uses God’s gifts as He has bestowed them with His love – is the natural and expected result of one’s search for their truth. Guess what? It may not be your career that you are searching for. Perhaps you are destined for a career that is secondary and not primary in your life. In fact, maybe it’s tertiary. Maybe your life is more valuable to God in a capacity of true service to others; that condition of being last so that you may experience and pass onto all those you love – everyone – the very essence of God, Himself. Humility means for yourself first, and not merely some parable of Christ’s that you pass onto others, but give little attention to it yourself.
During our walk together, Olaf and I came by a well-known, chain link fence that ran along the highway. Over the years pilgrims have fashioned wooden crosses from the surrounding fauna, and they have attached the crosses to the fence. It goes on for many meters, on both sides of the trail. It’s a touching reminder on why many of us are out here on the Camino.
Soon we reached Navarrete, a small town west of Logrono. There we came across the Iglesia de la Asuncion de Nuestra Senora. While very dark inside, I could clearly see the immense and wonderful architectural details from an age gone by forever. Enjoy.
From Navarrete, I went on alone, as Olaf wanted a break from walking, and I can never quite accustom myself to any break longer than 5-10 minutes max. The Camino going forward was a rolling vista of vineyards, with the occasional wheat field and olive tree grove. The weather stayed pleasant, and I was definitely happy for that as this was a long push to Nájera.
By the early afternoon I could see the rooflines of Nájera in the valley and with a last, strong effort I entered the town of 7,000, crossed the river and sought out my harbor for the night. I had decided this day that Nájera would be a rest place for an additional day, so I sought out a small, simple hotel to stay in; Hotel Ciudad de Nájera. It was midday Friday, and I knew Sunday would bring the push on to Burgos; several days away, but while resting in Nájera I would enjoy the food, the sights, the people, and get a good night’s sleep.
God Bless and Buen Camino – Reese