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Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Story from John Oley

John has just returned from a pilgrimage on the Frances. He started at St Jean 
and walked all the way to Santiago. 
Dear Ian,
On 16/5 this year I awoke in the private Albergue in Ages. At around 6.10
am. I walked next door to the Albergue which had a café for breakfast. I ate
my tostados and drank my coffee quickly and for me relatively quietly though
I shared a "Buenos Días" with Walter(German) Jacques(Fr.) Tula and
Anita(Finnish) and Jim(from Dublin).  Having paid my 2 Euros I departed
turning left out of the door. Almost immediately I was set upon by 3 very
large and very noisy dogs. Blessing my dependence on my walking poles which
I had already in their extended mode I fended the dogs  off and edged
backwards into the café/bar causing great hilarity amongst my fellow
peregrinos. I explained my terror of large dogs-." I hope you didn't hit
them with your sticks" piped up Jim,"they were just angel-guides for you". .
After a few moments the senor café owner attracted my attention by barking
'wuff wuff'- he gestured me to the door and indicated he would guard me from
the dogs- he indicated the path I should take- to the right- Indeed I had
taken the wrong turning and the dogs were simply guarding me back on track.

Angels don't always come in the guise you are expecting. And for days there
was fun  as I was teased  by requests in various languages as to whether I
had seen any small dogs or.... even small  cats!

God Bless,

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Now that is an example

The photo above is of Ave Fenix. Below is a great story of pilgrim hospitality which was recently publish in an American newspaper.

Salvation in Spain

A blizzard of apple blossoms whirled around me, the sun warmed the dew away, a solitary cow munched away beside me and I started to cry. An hour earlier I had checked my bank balance: 14 cents. Three euros in my pocket, and 14 cents in my account. I had no credit card and it was the Saturday before a public holiday in the United States so it would be three days until frantic phone calls to family stateside would lead to money in my bank.

I was a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago in Bierzo, in northern Spain. I’d been walking the ancient path for three weeks, frugally spending along the way, but a series of travel mishaps had seriously compromised my financial situation. I had $1,000 worth of technology and hiking equipment, yet no money for anything more than a few apples, yogurt and bread.

Then Sharon appeared, a Canadian pilgrim with whom I’d walked a few days earlier. She looked at me, dropped her pack, and asked what was wrong. I fessed up to my embarrassing situation and she handed me 20 euros. “Don’t even think about paying me back,” she called out as she walked down the road.

Twenty euros! That would be several days of food. And I could always volunteer to clean the bathrooms at the pilgrim hostels along the way in exchange for a bunk. I stood up and started down the Camino, feeling cautiously hopeful.

After several hours of walking, I arrived at Villafranca del Bierzo, a town nestled in a deep valley surrounded by vineyards. The pilgrims’ hostel, Phoenix, was constructed on the same ground that held a hostel for pilgrims when the pilgrimage was in its heyday, around A.D. 1000. I ventured up to the old man with calming blue eyes and a soulful presence that told me he belonged there. I gushed my story, explaining that I had only 20 euros to last me for three days, and if I could possibly stay and do chores instead of pay?

He smiled at me, took me in his arms, and said, in Spanish, “Daughter, you don’t need to pay to stay in your own home.”

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Another new beginning.

Well here we are again another blog. I must say that I have been fighting shy of my other blogs for some time now. This has mainly been because I have not had much to say and certainly not not much theological on pilgrimage as I still am not very fit in the knees. I have wondered if I will ever be able to walk the great distances need to complete a Santiago pilgrimage. So I have been staying home and thinking about the challenges of contemplation/. I have read much, understood a little and practiced enough to fill a small advert slot in the middle of Coronation Street. ( should anyone outside the U.K. pick this up Coronation Street is a soap on TV). I have started this blog because I want to ramble on about the things that interest me about life, pilgrimage,food and hospitality and anything that takes my fancy. So here goes.