Gloria Dios par Todos Cosas

First…please don´t feel the need to correct my Spanish! 🙂

Today (20 June), we are in Burgos where we will enjoy a day off tomorrow. It is a great city with a gorgeous Cathedral and tons to explore. A good number of our friends will be staying behind as well, so we should all have a great relaxing day before heading into the Meseta (aka: quite literally the desert of Spain).

Things are going well, I have had a few hard lessons to learn early on, but they were indeed necessary. One thing I was struck by is that you simply don´t hear stories of people who are unable to complete the Camino; however, upon arrival, this reality becomes a real possibility. Yesterday, Krista and I walked under the radiating heat of the Spanish sun for 11 hours on a day that should have taken 6.5 hours because my ankle decided it no longer wanted to function. I have been utterly in awe of how weak my body is. However, our day off in Burgos should give us some much-needed rest!

The Camino really is a pilgrimage and not a hike. It´s a journey with the Lord and not a vacation. These simple truths allow me to be humbled and realize that in the end, if every day is offered as a prayer, I continue to journey closer to Santiago and to God. He is allowing me many opportunities to rely solely on Him and for these I am grateful. Even on the most basic level…physically, I will not be able to complete this without Him.

Know that I am well and that I love reading your comments! Know that no matter what aches and pains I may share with you on here, I am LOVING the Camino! And mom, know that I am finding food to eat. A”tortilla” in Spain is actually an egg and potato omelet which is 100% edible for me! 🙂

Look forward to writing you all again! Many blessings.

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Who Knew you Could Limp 30km?

Not me…however, today I learned that you can. Unexpectedly, my hips of all things have flared and decided not to work…sadly, tomorrow I must succumb to the idea I hate so much…taking a bus to the next location. However, I am receiving all things on this Camino as direct gifts from God. So, if he wants me to take the bus for the day…who am I to argue. Try telling that to my pride that wants to walk EVERY single day of this thing…haha. I love you all. The internet is running out. I am in Najerra, Spain. Will write again soon!

Writing to you from Estella, Spain

Ok. So, this is hard.

Here we are at the end of day 5 and already I wish I would have gone about my training a little differently. Two things I might have done…given myself a blister and forced myself to walk on it…and read a whole lot more ¨Where´s Waldo¨ books (let´s just say the flechas amarillas, or yellow arrows that guide you across Spain, are not always as obvious as I was expecting)! They are ALWAYS there though. Krista and I have actually made a game of calling out ¨Waldo¨any time we spot one of the cleverly placed flechas.

Inspite of all of this though, God is good and in control and I am glad I am walking. If I were to stop today, I would miss all that he has to speak to me, which I know I have not yet even tapped the surface of.

One of the most delightful and surprising aspects to the camino has been that Krista and I are taking an intesive Spanish class. Ok, well not technically, but we have made friends with Henrique and Alejandro who we´ve been walking with intermittenly since Day One and neither of them speak English. So, starting today, I began English lessons with Henrique and he Spanish lessons with me. Perhaps one of us will reach fluency by Santiago! This is not looking hopeful. 🙂

Lastly…
Mom, I know you´re reading this…I am forever indebted to you for making me take the neck pillow and the knee brace. My knee swelled the first day with all of the down hills and the brace has been my saving grace. Also, no neck or back issues to date, which is incredibly impressive considering all I carry on my back each day (about 7kg) and I attribute a great deal of it to the pillow! Finally, I should have listened when you insisted I take the sleeping mask! 🙂

As requested:
Day One (9 June)  St. Jean Pied de Port, France-Roncevalles, Spain
Day Two (10 June) Roncevalles-Zubiri
Day Three (11 June) Zubiri-Pamplona
Day Four (12 June) Pamplona-Puenta la Reina
Today (13 June) Puenta la Reina-Estella

Tomorrow we walk to Los Arcos!

Let’s Play Catch Up

Ok. So here are the highlights from the last week! Forgive me that there is not more, but unfortunately finding an internet cafe or the time to sit down and write has been more difficult than expected. Nevertheless…

Ireland: We arrived in Ireland with no plans of our own, and are grateful that we did because Divine Providence stepped in and allowed us to have the most amazing time. So many things we were able to experience that we would not have been able to had we had a set plan. From experiencing the incredible generosity and hospitality of the Irish, to a night out in Dublin and Galway, a trip to the most beautiful Glendalough (land between two lakes), an Irish culture night with traditional Irish music and storytelling in Sligo, where we were also blessed to stay with the most lovely family who so graciously took care of us, and the opportunity to really get to know Clare and Eileen (the most beautiful Irish girls around…inside and out! Most Defo!)

England: A whirwind 48 hours of blessed time to catch up with our dear friend Daniel, explore Bournemouth and Christchurch, England (though our tour guide may have aired on the side of fabrication rather than truth), and once again be blessed by the incredible hospitality of those we stayed with. Thank you so much, Daniel and Kate!

Day One Walking: What to say?! We´re alive. Accomplishment enough for hiking 7.5 hours straight up and over the Pyrenees mountains. No blisters to date. Finding that even day 1 of 33, carrying a pack for 27km can cause you to reevaluate what you “really” need.

Will be in touch as soon as I can. Not sure when the internet will be next available. We love you all. Keep up the prayers and know that we are praying for you.

PS. Please forgive any typos, as I am on a time limit.

Anonymous Spanish Angel

God is good. We have not seen our bag yet or received word of its arrival here in Dublin; however, God’s blessings have already been abundant. Our first angelic encounter occurred Wednesday in Madrid, as we had five hours to kill outside the airport. We found a lovely cafe in the middle of Plaza Mayor to grab a coffee and some food and then went in search of the Cathedral. While searching for the Cathedral, we came to a halt on a street corner, clearly a little lost and confused as to which way to go. Not a moment passed and a wonderful little old Spanish man, who spoke not one word of English, approached us and uttered “Catedral?” “Si. Si!” we replied. “How did you know?” was what we were thinking in English, but with no way to communicate this in his language we accepted his directions gratefully and found our way to the Cathedral. Thank you, to our anonymous Spanish friend.

Tomorrow morning we say goodbye to the land of “a thousand welcomes,” a name Ireland most certainly lives up to, in order to visit a dear friend in Bournemouth, England. Ireland Reflection to come…

Pilgrim’s First Rule: Be Flexible

We have arrived safely in Madrid with only a few minor hiccups along the way…departing Pittsburgh half an hour late causing a near miss of our Atlanta to Madrid flight…only to make it through customs to find that our bag had not arrived with us. What’s a pilgrimage without a little excitement and a lot of flexibility!!!! Hopefully it will find its way to us in Dublin…

Leaving on a Jet Plane

It was my every intention to write to you next from somewhere over seas. It would seem, however, that I was wrong to assume that our pilgrimage began only after we landed in Spain, when in fact, it began last Thursday as I said good-bye to those I had come to love and drove away from Washington, DC, thus beginning my journey slowly but surely to Santiago.

After driving seven hours to Ohio, Thursday night, I awoke on Friday and found myself boarding a plane to Denver, somewhat disoriented. As we waited for our plane at the gate, I realized suddenly that I was flying Southwest. You know what that means? Yep…I was going to have to choose my seat. While some may love this privilege, there is something I enjoy and take solace in, on other airlines, knowing that my seat has been chosen for me. That perhaps God played some role in the person or persons sitting to either side of me. And so came my first prayer, one of many, uttered as a pilgrim on this long road to Saint James: “God, I just want to sit where you want me to sit, by whomever you wish me to sit by. Please just choose my seat.”

Such a small prayer (and perhaps somewhat frivolous); and yet, God was about to show me that He was with me and in control of every aspect, small and large, of this journey. As I walked down the aisle of the plane, one of the last to board, facing full overhead baggage bins and only middle seats to choose from, I was becoming quite discouraged as I neared the back of the plane with still no home for my luggage or myself. Quite suddenly, a man shot up out of his seat in front of me and asked “Would you like to sit here?” (referring to the middle seat between he and the young man sitting by the window). Stunned by the offer, I sputtered “I’d love to if I can just find a place for my bag.” He responded quite quickly, “I’ll take care of that.” He proceeded to move several other bags aside to make room for mine as I took my place in the seat. Thanking him for his generosity, I was struck by how blatantly God wished to show me that He was there accompanying me already and that indeed He would be with Krista and I throughout our entire journey just as clearly as He was in that very moment on the plane in the lovely gentleman who offered me a seat. (If you’re reading this, Dan, thank you. I’ll be praying for you, your wife Carolyn, and your children Charlotte and William!)

Tomorrow we fly to Madrid, then it’s on to Ireland, England, and then June 9 begins our journey across Spain: El Camino de Santiago.

Buen Camino

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk being called sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken
Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow or really live.
Chained by their servitude they are slaves who have forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is truly free.

William Ward

These are the final words of the preface to the guide-book Krista and I will be using on the Camino and perhaps my final words on this blog until I write to you from somewhere in Ireland or England (our initial stop overs) and then of course from along The Way in Spain.

May you be abundantly blessed. Please know of my love and prayers. If any of you should still desire to send me your intentions (see previous post), please send them out this week or give them to me in person if I am blessed enough to get to see you before I go.

Let us step out into the unknown following the trustworthy Lamb. May we risk all the treasures of this world for the riches and the glory of the next.

AMDG.

St. James…pray for us. St. Adelina…pray for us. St. Elizabeth…pray for us. Mary Mother of God…pray for us. May all of you, our family and friends…pray for us.

PS. In order to lessen the overflow of distractions from
every day life into the Camino, this will be the
only technology that I will be updating
while over seas. I will check my
email in case of emergency
or exciting news, but 
will
not be 
corresponding
via email or fb.
God bless. 

The Final Countdown

As many of you may know, I will be leaving in just a few short weeks with just my backpack and my dear friend, Krista, to go to Spain and walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way (or Walk) of St. James of Compostela).

Several Thoughts Before I Go…

1. God is so good.
He has blessed the family I work for with another Franciscan Alumni as my replacement. This was a 100% random, coincidental miracle, as all parties involved had no idea this was the case until the day she showed up for the interview and we recognized each other! It gives me great peace of mind and heart to know that they will continued to be loved with not just the human love of a nanny, but with the eternal love of Christ a Christian carries in them through the world.

2. Pray for me.
I would greatly appreciate any and all prayers as I prepare to embark upon this pilgrimage (and most especially while I am over there). I have prayed the prayer of Samuel “Speak, O Lord, your servant is listening” and in a very real way have asked God to speak clearly to my heart throughout the Camino. And so, I wait in child-like faith and confidence for the Father, whom I know loves me and seizes every opportunity we give Him to speak to us, to come and whisper to my soul in His great Wisdom, His will and desires for me. Please pray for this intention. That as I leave external distractions behind, I may also slowly rid myself of the many internal distractions which make it so difficult to hear the Lord.

3. I Would Greatly Like to be able to Pray for You.
Along with my pack, know that I already carry with me the intentions (both known and unknown) of each of you. However, in very real way, I would like to carry them with me. There is a tradition on the Camino of carrying a rock with you in your pack (extra weight…which when you are carrying a pack every day for 5 weeks becomes a big deal) to symbolize any burdens, distractions, or intentions you would like to offer the Camino for. Eventually, leaving them behind in Santiago for the Lord to do with them as he pleases. Though I cannot physically carry a rock for each of you, though I wish I could, I would like to carry your intentions with me, offering my walk in part for your intentions as well as my own, leaving all behind in Santiago for the Lord to answer. Our prayer is powerful, especially our prayer for one another. Prayer and fasting was the only way of casting out even the most difficult of demons according to Jesus. Prayer IS powerful. 

May the Lord bless each of you, especially in this Holy Week as He draws us into His Passion. From the Last Supper, to the betrayal of one close to Him, through His arrest, scourging, being crowned with thorns, mocked, stripped and eventually made to stumble to Calvary, His cross on His back, the Lord beckons us this week to remember the price that was owed for our sins, a price we could never hope to pay for it was an eternal offense committed by our original parents (Adam and Eve)…not so that we may despair, but so that we may enter the festivities of Easter (Resurrection) Sunday with a greater understanding of God’s unfathomable love for us!

God be praised!