Monday, September 21, 2009


We arrived in Santiago early this afternoon, found our digs for the night, and since then basically wandered the town. Santiago is a pretty big town, about 90,000, while the towns we have been wandering through have been mostly very small agricultural villages. Lots of wine country early on, a lot more dairy of late. One of the joys of the pilgrimage has been catching the sweet smell of silage on the morning breeze, as we walked in glorious rural Spain.

I think the 4 main emotions/virtues/passions or whatever you want to call them of the camino are these: persistence, joy, hope and fear. Persistence, clearly, was what kept us going when it was beginning to rain, or when we were in pain, or when it just seemed like a heck of a long way to the next stop. Somewhere along the road an Irish woman noted we were carrying our own gear and said "you are mighy women, aren't you?" We laughed--not so much mighty as persistent, patient, willing to take another step. Just like every other pilgrim who arrives at Santiago. Persistence makes this kind of thing happen.

Joy makes it worth doing. I've mentioned before how happy we've been at having clean laundry, but also little joys like a hot shower at the end of the day, a meal that's perfectly cooked, the strength of early morning that presages good for the day. Bigger joys include drinking in the lovely woods, like the Tolkien-esque forest we walked through in the early morning light today, or the neat rows of grape vines, a spectacular vista over a mountainside Faces--seeing folks we'd met and wondered about, hoped for, prayed for along the road.

Hope feeds persistence, and makes it happy. Hope is that we'll see a partucular fellow pilgrim again here in Santiago. (We've met people who've met people they knew from previous treks--hope like this can last years!)Hope at least that they made it. Many days we hoped that today's trek will be easier than yesterday's as we got stronger along the way. Usually they did. (One pilgrim told us that day three was hardest. We had a harder day 2 than 3, and some tought days after. But we hoped.) Hope that, despite the immediate physical awareness that the walking engendered, the subtler spiritual work of the camino was also being done. On hard days, there was little of complex thought, much less deep spiritual work going on, at least that I could sense in myself. But what did St. Paul say about "when you can't pray, the Spirit prays in you..."?

And fear came with us too. Fear that we'd have to stop for reasons big or small. Fear that the rain we ran into late in the trek would soak us and leave us vulnerable to hypothermia. Fear that we'd run into bedbugs again. Fear that this was really only a long hike, not a spiritual endeavor at all. Fear calls forth courage mediated by prudence. We got better rain gear after the first day it rained. We took reasonable anti-bedbug precautions. We trust that the Spirit will do the Spirit's work, if we show up honestly and try our best.

So we did. So we're here. Time to rest--with no alarm set for the morning. Thanks be to God for a rich and safe trip, for the wonderful people we've met, and for the support yove been to us.

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