In stark contrast to the everydayishness of suburban life, today was chock full of adrenaline-pumping stories and life lessons and chance encounters. Which do I choose to share?
Take Home Lesson 1: your willingness to share will not always be appreciated or accepted. Share anyway.
Take Home Lesson 2: if you don’t know where you’re heading, you won’t know if you end up at a different destination. Know Your Goal.
Take Home Lesson 3: googlemaps is not infallible.
Take Home Lesson 4: Hold loosely those things you cannot control.
Do you fancy hearing the stories behind any of those lessons? What about the going-to-the-post-office story? Or the encounter with Roberto? Or the train trip? Or a description of the albergue we are staying in tonight which has been welcoming pilgrims since 1200? Or what about the pilgrims’ prayers we participated in sitting in a chapel built about 1150?
How about I start at the beginning; we can always come back to the other stories some other time.
“Peregrinos?,” the immaculately-dressed middle-aged woman enquired as she slowed the clicking of her high heels on the grey paving stones. A nod of my head elicited a broad smile from her as she click-clacked away, presumably on her way to work.
Pilgrims. Yes, we are pilgrims. We have an identity, we are recognised, we wear a badge.
At that moment I realised Charles Dudley Warner was right when he wrote, “There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.”
That moment, sitting on the side of the street in Madrid, being recognised as a pilgrim is our beginning, and indeed, it was a delightful moment.
Our first walking day started with a pilgrim greeting and it ended with moving pilgrim prayers in a chapel built about 1150. The service included beautiful Gregorian chants of one prayer that has been sung there for hundreds of years. Each pilgrim (including the kids) read a prayer in their own language, we prayed together in Spanish and listened to a short devotional sermon. It was something special to worship in a place where our brothers and sisters in Christ have prayed for almost a thousand years. It was also special to sleep in a building that welcomed the first pilgrims in the year 1200!
Trinidad de Arre, outskirts of Pamplona
Cumulative total: 8km
992km to go
Weather: early 20s during the day, freezing come evening – wearing thermal underwear and merino tshirt to bed, keeping woolen socks and fleece jacket handy
Dinner: bread, chorizo, cheese