Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Resting in Pamplona

I have finished three days of the Camino, taking a short day today to rest my feet and see the sights of Pamplona.

I have been walking with Graham, my albergue friend from England. As I arrived in my albergue the first person I met was an elderly gentleman and I use the term lightly, who was one of the four sharing the room this evening. Our other two room-mates were two young women from the United Kingdom. Coed sleeping arrangements are a thing I must get used to.

Graham it turns out is a retired Anglican priest who at age 70 decided it was time to walk the Camino. His wife is a counselor with priests in crisis! We had a bit to share about. I consider this a God sighting and we agreed to walk along together.

We awoke at 6:30 on Sunday to begin the trek. After a short stop at the Parish church Notre Dame du Bout du Pont we began the steep climb out of town.

The first day was a beautiful and strenuous climb out of St. Jean Pied de Port up, over and through the Pyrenees and into Spain nearly 16 miles, 25 kilometers. There was a full range of weather, cool in the am, warm with a cool breeze as the day wore on, rain showers at the border of Spain and then hot on the steep decent into Roncevalles. 

250 pilgrims arrived at the old monastery on the 14th and we all had a bed. 150 of us in one dormitory.

I went to a pilgrim mass of blessing given in ten different languages. Another God moment, I was asked to read the English version of the scripture for the Mass.

The next morning we left early, before sunup to start this stage to Larrasoana. Hard hiking up and downhill, with a short break for jugo de naranja (orange juice) and tortilla ( a Spanish omelet).

We arrived at our destination by 3pm, 17 miles or around 28 kilometers. My feet and legs are tired this day and I'm glad to  be able to stop reasonably early. 

The albergue is old, but I'm glad to have a bed. The town filled up and pilgrims needed to go on to the next villages to try to find a bed.

The God-sighting for today, the 15th, was a situation where a Chinese man I had met in St. Jean, Chin Lee, had arrived in Larrasoana and did not have a bed. Graham had the number of a hotel in the next village, one kilometer away. Chin did not have a Spanish phone and didn't speak Spanish so I called the hotel and asked for a room. They had one room left and would hold it for Chin for 30 minutes. Off he went down the trail saying "thanks". We hoped he was successful in getting there in time.

Dinner was a group meal with other pilgrims and seated with me in one spot, Graham, the Anglican priest next to me and then next to him was a Pentecostal pastor from Australia who runs a drug and alcohol recovery program. The others at the table were able to have our share of the wine and I got to drink "mas aqua, por favor"!

This morning was another early morning and I planned an early stop to rest my weary legs. Only 15 kilometers today, less than ten miles.

We checked into the albergue Jesus y Maria and it is wonderful. 100 beds, modern (coed) showers and a place to wash clothes for the next day. 

After showering and washing clothes I walked to the Cathedral in Pamplona, a lovely, ancient building that also is a museum since there ruins being excavated from Roman days.

As I was looking at the remains of the institution I noticed a pilgrim kneeling in prayer. I looked closer and it was Chin Lee. He was just arriving in Pamplona  and was praying before he walked on to Cizor Menor. He reported that he had made it to the hotel on time the night before and gotten the room, and a good night's rest with no snorers! He was very grateful and called us his Camino angels.

For me I saw it as The Lord revealing his Body alive in the midst of the ancient institution. We can still care and share with each other in need .

Tomorrow I do it again, day four begins early. Buen Camino

Gate to enter St Jean

The Parish Church in St Jean
St Jean from the mountains
The Virgin of Orisson
The Pyrenees 
The hostel in Larrasoana 
Medieval bridge into Trinidad de Arre
Old gate into Pamplona 
The Cathedral de St Fermin in Pamplona
Garden in Pamplona

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two days in Paris

I arrived in Paris at 9:30 am on Tuesday, September 9. The first leg of the Camino has commenced. 

I made it through customs, bought a train ticket to the metro station near the apartment where I am staying  and arranged to meet the landlady. Three hours after I arrived I was safely inside the apartment.

All through the fight, buying the train ticket, making it to the apartment, I continued to be troubled by fear and worry. They so constant and so wrong that I just call them demon number one and demon number two.

Every accusation, every suggestion put forth by fear and worry proved wrong. As in most God sightings it's easy to tell the right path because it's always opposed. This journey is no exception. I'm sure I'm on the right path because opposition is very constant but victory is at every turn.

I continue to battle demon's one and two with gratitude. I don't have to do this; I get to do this and I am grateful. And the demons go away for a while.

In preparation for the Camino I hiked 18 miles around Paris on Wednesday and ten more on Thursday. I think I'm in good physical shape.

Here are the obligatory tourist Photos

A garden by my apartment
Notre Dame
The scene from every window

Now that jet-lag is taken care of, tomorrow I take a train to Bordeaux then on to Bayonne and ending in Saint Jean Pied de Port to begin my walk on September 14th. 

I'm reading A W Tozer's "Pursuit of God" again and am reminded of my purpose in the changes I've made in life. Is it possible to have a living, breathing relationship with Almighty God? The God who cares about plane tickets and train tickets and walking?

The test of this is experienced through God sightings, seeing God alive in every thing every day. I continue to see them, I continue to journal them and I'll be writing more in the days to come.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Fear or Excitement?

Less than 72 hours until I begin my Camino. I'm finding myself with a mix of emotions. Is it fear, excitement or maybe a mix of the two?

This entire process is one of transformation, transition and the more I think about it the more excited I get! 

I had coffee this morning with one of my band of Brothers and we had a great discussion on transition and what it means to be transitioning right now at my advanced age of  60. 

Daniel's not quite that old but still it's been an interesting last two years for both of us.

While we talked together it became clearer to me  that part of the task of this walking experience is refocusing on what life will be like for me as a 60-year-old once I return to Oklahoma. I realize that many of my mentors have died. Others that I want to respect as mentors have proven disappointing. 

Because of these changes, experiences that  used to have great meaning are no longer part of my life. New relationships have entered, new forms of worship and experiencing God. 

 A renewed sense of discipleship and experiencing God in the moment is fundamental  as is mentoring of younger persons. I think the fear may be in the transition of moving from being mentored to mentoring without my older guides and that feels a little uncertain.

So back to the purpose of the Camino. As I transition the experience of the Camino sets up a growing edge on my spiritual life. Having several hours a day to think while I'm walking I pray will bring clarity.

  I look forward to what will happen in the next seven weeks and to share these experiences with you. So, that's my fear and excitement! As my mother would say " We're going to have to pray! it's come to that!" Thanks mother for teaching me to pray!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mobile blogging

I'm checking to see if I actually can blog from my phone and it appears that I can. I am considering blogging some on my Camino that begins on September 19.

An added bonus I can actually speak to my phone and it will type it. probably will help me with the typos.

More later

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Starting to Prepare!

My preparation for the Camino de Santiago is underway and I thought I would begin to blog about the process of getting in shape for the long walk in September.

I plan to leave Tulsa on September 8, 2014 and travel to Paris. From there I will travel to Bayonne, France and on to Saint Jean Pied de Port, the starting point of el Camiño Francés. I hope to begin the walk on September 14, 2014.

El Camiño Francés begins at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains that comprise the border between France and Spain. The length of the Camino is roughly 800 kilometers, or 500 miles. With this in mind I will need to walk about 25 kilometers a day to finish the camino in thirty three days. I want to take a few days off during the trip to see the sights along the way and of course may need to let my body recuperate, so my preparation is to get my body used to walking from five to ten miles each day in the month of May. I plan to increase this to an average of ten miles per day in June and be up to walking fifteen miles per day several days in July. I believe that if I can be accustomed to walking at least three hours a day, every day, I can be ready for the walk physically.

The other aspect of a long walk is mental. Some persons have difficulty unplugging from this present world and its constant bombardment with noise, information, music, and conversation. I desire to fully unplug from this artificial world and its attractions and be fully present to the sights and sounds of the camino.

Quiero tener la experiencia completa y conocer los personas, o la gente, en Espana.

I want to have the complete experience and know the people of Spain.

I trust that you can tell that part of how I am preparing my mind for the journey is to study, and learn Castillian Spanish. I have a friend, mi amigo Bob Pennison. Bob and his wife Teri are missionaries in Spain and as it turns out are living in Santiago. Their presence there was part of the confirmation that I needed to know that this trip was right for me. Bob is here in Tulsa this summer and will be returning to Santiago about the time I begin my trip. We will meet up in Santiago as I complete my journey.

Bob has agreed to work on speaking Spanish with me and we have had two sessions so far. I am writing out paragraphs in Spanish and then practicing speaking with Bob. He listens to see if I am understood and then adds hints and insights on pronunciation and changes that need to be made. I also have been using a Pimsleur course and utilize mnemonics to assist me in memorizing the top 1000 Spanish words. Mentally I find myself speaking to myself in Spanish and as I practice with Bob and in the Hispanic community in Tulsa. The more I practice the more confident I become in my conversation. I believe that I can already communicate enough to find my way and get food and drink. I can ask for help and assistance if ill. The other mental work is to help me mentally stay focused on the goal.
Puedo communicar sufficente para direccion a hacer comida y bebida. (Spanish speakers please correct my poor translation from memory).

Needless to say I am quite excited by the prospect.

I walked seven miles on Thursday and eight on Friday making a total of fifteen miles so far in the month of May.  I want to hit the five mile average and so far am ahead of the game. I have developed my memorization list and will work on getting the "A" and "B" words into my memory plan this weekend in order to have at least 250 words committed to memory by the end of May.

A final aspect, and one that probably should be the first in the list, is my spiritual focus. I have been in spiritual transition for over five years, since 2009. This transition is positive in that my walk with the Lord is stronger than ever before. I find that my connection with the institutional church is almost non-existent. This transition is curious to me and part of my spiritual journey is to look at the draw of the Camino, and pilgrimage in general as I walk along the way. I am learning to simply receive the Love of God when I am tempted to judge others. This simple way of gratitude for having a resource to fill my lack of love assists me in resisting the call to be "right" and attempts to judge others as being "wrong". I am more at peace with this process and get ample opportunity to practice as I prepare for the Camino.

So there it is for early May. I am looking at the preparation of my spirit, mind and body in concrete ways. I am blogging this in order to be accountable for the work that I desire to do.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Thought from Kierkegaard on walking

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”

Søren Kierkegaard

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pilgrimage to Spain

I've clarified the fact that I am traveling to Spain in September of 2014 to hike the Camino de Santiago- The Way of Saint James as a pilgrimage to celebrate my sixtieth year on the planet as well as my present vocation as a writer and encourager. I am very excited by this prospect and will probably bore everyone with the planning and preparing. I hope to build a small community of fellow pilgrims to share the experience and have several book and blog ideas.

Today I begin the process of learning Spanish, giving me eight months to gain some fluency in the Castilian language. I have the lessons downloaded on the iPod shuffle for use while I hike the RiverParks trail this afternoon. Buen Camino!

Welcome to 2014

Here I am in January of 2014. It is an interesting year, one of many new opportunities for walking and hiking. I want to blog about these and will complete the update later this week. Happy New Year!