Faith and “The Way of Saint James”

Faith & Gratitude

Three days prior to reaching Santiago de Compostela, I received an email from a friend of The Way of St. James.  We had walked together for a day early in my journey, and shared quite a bit of conversation on matters of meaningful existence.  I’ll let you read his email, as I’m sure he will not mind.

Dear Reese;

One thought: Could you think of a final post after your arrival in Santiago, stating your “main lessons learned“? 

I believe there are so many key thoughts within all these quiet, long posts, and therefore it’s difficult to catch them all.

Buen Camino.

There is no doubt in my mind that my blog on “The Way” is literally the shipyard and graveyard of a thousand essays on the meaning and purpose of life.  I see all kinds of boats and ships of various class; under construction, set to be launched, secured to the dock or resting in the harbor, and many set out to sea.  Some are simply a speck on the horizon. And some others are wrecked on reefs of errant thinking, or at the bottom of the sea; sunk by ships faster and more deadly. Continue reading Faith and “The Way of Saint James”

Santiago de Compostela

The Silver Reliquary (by José Losada, 1886) holding the Remains of St. James

The last day of my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela came and went in a series of visions; the dark forest, the twisting farmlands, the edge of the suburbs, the highways leading to and from the city, and finally the city itself.  Unlike coming into Burgos and Leon, the two other largest cities along The Way, where there were vast and ugly commercial avenues leading to the old cities, Santiago suffered from no such definition and confinement.

Time had suspended itself during that day’s walk.  Whether my shoulders ached from the weight of the backpack or my feet shouted for pity and eternal rest, I sensed neither, nor would have entertained their overtures for attention.  Rather, my attention was focused upon what seemed the goal; the east gate to the old city and the cathedral within.  I so wanted to be within the cool and soaring stone walls of the cathedral for the noon Pilgrims’ Mass.  It was Sunday, and so that hope carried even a greater strength and purpose.  I also – confession time – desired to part myself, bodily and spiritually, from my backpack.  By now, it had attained full status as a symbol of my self-containment and daily measure.  Here in Santiago de Compostela I wanted to bust out, and breathe the air in ridiculous abundance, stretch my limbs, and heap impetuousness upon my land-leaned body and mind.  I had experienced and disciplined myself to the Camino for the past five weeks, practicing what I had preached to myself for the past year of what it should be like on the Camino, that I just wanted a little, untidy exuberance.  A hotel awaited my backpack and walking sticks.  I could leave them there, and go onto the cathedral and walk the streets to my leisure.  Walk?  Some more? Continue reading Santiago de Compostela

O’Pedrouso to Santiago De Compostela – Day 32

Shell Marker

Just to note.  I apologize to everyone who was expecting a post a couple of days ago regarding my walk into Santiago de Compostela; you know, the big event, the big finish.  I could not write it then, and I’m just beginning to be able to write it now.  Simply put, I was thoroughly overwhelmed, exhausted, and uncomfortably confused at the same time.  I’ll address that all in my following post.  I do want to speak of a lesson learned as I prepared for this final day’s journey, and so I offer it up at this time. 

I find it entirely fitting that God would send me a very clear message the last day of my journey on the Camino Frances, and in His always unimaginable perception of each of our needs, He shows me the lamb as my source of strength. Continue reading O’Pedrouso to Santiago De Compostela – Day 32

Arzua to O’Pedrouso – Day 31

Three White Roses

This day’s walk had been short in distance; as I knew it would be.  I found myself in O’Pedrouso by 10:30am, and waiting outside the Albergue Edreira until noon, which is when they open.  I sat it out with the company of four, fifteen year-old girls, and their two adult, female escorts.  I have found, in the last thirty days, that putting together any number of Spanish citizens leads to verbal chaos.  I’m sure part of the chaos is simply artificial; the fact that I do not understand Spanish well enough to know what the line of discourse is with any certainty.  The other part of the chaos is well-founded though.  Inevitably, everyone in a conversing group is speaking at the same time, and it’ not just a few moments of disorganized conversation while searching for a common subject, or a contradicting discourse that invariably fades away.  No, what we have and maintained quite well by all participating is a competent, common chorus of cacophony.  It can go on indefinitely, and to the apparent pleasure of all.  I also notice that inevitably a male in the conversing group needs to be male; his voice noticeably becoming louder like some bull in the field noting his dominance over the grass surrounding him; few pay attention except the weak of spirit.  Continue reading Arzua to O’Pedrouso – Day 31

Palas de Rei to Arzua – Day 30

Leaving Palas de Rei

What amazes me, as I begin writing this post, is the abstract sense and quality of time that I encounter with each day’s journey.  In attempting to begin my recount of this day, I found myself somewhat confused as to where I started this morning.  It was Palas de Rei, it was in the dark of the morning, barely past 6:00am, and I had to maneuver my way out of this small city, through its suburbs, and out into the countryside.  Had I really done that this morning, or am I confusing this remembrance with another?  Continue reading Palas de Rei to Arzua – Day 30