THE RECLINER CAMINO PART 1

I have been thinking about friends I met on the Camino and remembering how many of them sustained injuries. Ankles, knees, backs, all have fallen prey to falls, over use, improper footwear, and more. I think about this because I tripped on a sidewalk and fractured my right knee and my left wrist. my husband and I made plans to have dinner and catch a movie on a Wednesday night. We agreed to meet at the restaurant. I decided to park near the cinema and walk the 8-9 blocks to the cantina. I was about 2 blocks from where I parked, enjoying the late afternoon sun when…I…fell…HARD! My very first thought upon hitting the concrete was, “Am I going to be able to walk the camino again?” I had hoped to walk part of the Vezelay route in France from Châteauroux to Limoges, about 100 miles, in July.

The orthopedic doctor delivered the news I didn’t want to hear. No camino in July. He did say maybe September but I don’t know if I’ll be available to travel then. He also gave me hope that perhaps I could do the camino Frances next year.

The emergency room fitted me with wrist and knee braces and I’ve been hobbling to the living room to sit in a recliner. Instead of trekking poles I have crutches. I am only allowed up to take care of the most important tasks. Needless to say it has been a difficult time.

I’m trying to remain positive about this. When I think about cheating and being up more than I should be I remember how important my knee is to me not only for the camino but in my every day life. If my wrist doesn’t heal properly I won’t be able to pick up my grandchildren. So for now my camino will consist of a journey in my heart and mind. I will remember to be grateful for all that I have. Family and friends have come together to bring me food, keep me company, and prevent me from watching too much reality tv 😮😏. I’ll walk my camino from my recliner.

Buen Camino

A SOLUTION FOR COVID*

For more than two years the world has been battling the Covid epidemic. It seems like we’ve been chanting a mantra (or several mantras) that go(es) something like this…

In two weeks this will be over.

All we have to do is flatten the curve.

There can’t possibly be another variant.

When can I travel again?

When can I take my mask off?

Will I ever feel safe?

I have my vaccine.

I have both my vaccines.

I have my booster.

This morning it occurred to me that we have missed quite possibly the most effective deterrent to covid. It’s an age old device that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember. It’s simple and accessible to all races, religions, ages, genders…heck it’s universal! It’s accessible to the most remote tribes in the world.

It’s…a cootie catcher!

It’s small, portable, fits in your pocket. It’s cheap and easy to make. You can personalize it to suit your tastes. You can turn it into a fortune teller and develop a sideline business. There are no supply chain issues for the materials. All you need is a piece of paper.

Is it effective? Ask yourself, “Have I ever caught cooties when I had a cootie catcher on me? No! But will it prevent me from getting Covid? A cootie catcher catches all kinds of cooties. Anything you are afraid of or don’t like, a cootie catcher will eliminate those cooties. And there’s no need to dispose of them or sterilize your cootie catcher. Your cootie catcher is the ultimate black hole for catching any kind of cootie.

There are no regulations against carrying a cootie catcher on public transportation, in school, hospitals, or on any of the camino routes.

So stop worrying and get on with your life. Your cootie catcher will keep you safe.

Buen Camino

*These last two years have been tough on everyone. Many loved ones are not here today because of Covid. This post is not meant to make light of any of that. I do hope that through this pandemic we have retained our ability to smile and maybe even laugh a little.

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[a] the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:13-17 NRSV

I have always been uncomfortable with titles. I am ordained. I went to seminary and eventually followed the ordination process in a mainline protestant denomination. I wanted to wear my title of Reverend but I never really felt comfortable with it.* I don’t really want to be call “Mrs” either.

I do have names that I’m comfortable with. I like being called “mommy”. I know that seems like a childish name and I’m sure my adult daughters feel silly calling me that. However when they began calling me “mom” I felt the name didn’t really fit me and I asked them to please call me mommy at least at home. Lady M is my grandma name. My daughters helped me pick that out. It’s not that I was adverse to being called “grandma” its that I didn’t want to be “grandma Michelle” or Grandma P”. I’ll never forget the first time I heard my first grandchild say, “D’M”. That name does have a bit of a draw back. When that same grandchild was older I took her to the children’s museum. I lost sight of her for a few minutes and then I heard someone say, “Are you here with your mommy?” “No, Lady M”. “Are you here with your grandma?” “No Lady M”. We found each other.

Recently I attended the American Pilgrims on the Camino Gathering where I joined 300 others to prepare for, reminisce about, learn about, and celebrate the Camino de Santiago. We were all referred to as “pilgrims”. I am embracing that name.

Recently (yesterday actually) I gave myself permission to try out a new name. I haven’t looked at my LinkedIn profile in over 10 years (since I left the church). Occasionally I get an email regarding my former clergy status. I recently received an invitation from a Women in Leadership group to join. When I wrote back and told them that I was no longer clergy I never received a reply back. So yesterday I finally decided to update my profile. LinkedIn has a lot of information that one must filled in and one of those is “title”. Rather than put down Mommy or Lady M or even Pilgrim I went out on a limb and typed in “Blogger”. I felt scared as I typed that in because…

Maybe I don’t blog often enough to be called a blogger.

Maybe I don’t have enough followers to be called a blogger.

Maybe what I write isn’t interesting enough to be called a blogger.

So there you have it. Blogger is a new name I’ve appropriated. I’m going to see if it fits. I’m going to try and live in to it. I’m going to say, “I’m a blogger” when someone asks what I do. If I find blogger doesn’t feel genuine like reverend didn’t, I can let it go. But who knows as Peter called Jesus “Messiah” maybe one day someone will call me “Blogger”. And I’ll answer.

Who do say you are?

Buen Camino

*I have since left the Church and am no longer affiliated with any organized church. However I’m pretty sure that my ordination came from God and not the Bishop.

UKRAINE 🇺🇦

I am a news and politics junkie. I love nothing better than an energetic discussion about what’s going on in the world. Having said that I don’t share my political views (at least I hope I don’t) in this blog. Having said that I believe I must comment on what is happening in Ukraine.

I have been glued to the television watching as events unfold. The images of war, the bombings, the interviews of ordinary people who simply want to live their lives in peace with all their neighbors. And yes I understand Russia’s concerns about NATO being literally on their border. I watch several American news channels, I watch Sky News from the UK, I keep in touch with German and French pilgrim friends, and I stay connected to my cousin in Paris.

They are all highly concerned. As Americans we really have no concept of war on our land. Yes, the civil war was fought on American land which was littered with the bodies of American soldiers. My father fought in World War II, he was in un exploded bomb disposal. My mother was a French citizen trying to survive and live her life in the midst of chaos. The story that always sticks in my mind is how she got stuck at a friend’s apartment for a week because there was a sniper in the street.

My friends in Europe are beginning to understand the stories that their parents and grandparents told them about war. Not war someplace else. War right outside their front doors.

When I see the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag 🇺🇦 I cannot help but be reminded of the shells of the same colors that point the way along the camino. As difficult as it is to imagine this is a camino for Ukraine. This is a journey in which the Ukrainians are plumbing the depths of their hearts and souls to find the courage to endure and move forward in their lives. This camino will change the Ukrainian people. It will change Ukraine and Russia. It may even change all of us as we collectively watch this tragedy unravel.

Let us pray for all who are in the midst of a camino of war and suffering. Not just in Ukraine, all around our world.

Buen Camino

ASH WEDNESDAY

January 20, 2022

Ash Wednesday falls on my birthday this year. Usually it falls during Lent. I know because for a long time I gave up chocolate for Lent and my family would buy me the best chocolate cake to celebrate. I would generously give huge pieces out at my birthday dinner and then carefully freeze the rest of it. This was before I learned that Sundays in Lent were not meant for fasting because Sunday marks the resurrection and is therefore a feast day. The forty days of Lent are calculated excluding Sundays. Anyway even though Lent is several weeks away today I was pondering the resurrection. Actually to be more precise I’ve been pondering the crucifixion.

Life can be difficult. People who love us often show that love in ways that are difficult to comprehend. Society in love issues changing directions on who we should be. Feelings of being inadequate next to a sibling or told we don’t measure up and should take a less fulfilling path in life because that’s all we are capable of are as crushing as Jesus’ crucifixion.

Completing two caminos feel like resurrection moments. There is a death in surrendering to taking the walk. Every step brings a range of joy, pain, and sorrow much like the Apostles’ Creed when we say that Jesus descended to the dead. What was Jesus doing during those three days before Easter Sunday? Some say he was preaching the gospel to the dead so all could be saved even those who have gone before us. Those who walk the Camino de Santiago, whether for spiritual reasons or not are transformed. Isn’t arrival in Santiago de Compostela like a resurrection?

So why do I still feel as though I’m still awaiting the resurrection…my resurrection? Finishing those two caminos seem like I should feel resurrected. Or were they part of the process of moving through from crucifixion to resurrection? Was my arrival in Santiago de Compostela my resurrection or an invitation to step into my resurrection?

I know that something new is being birthed within me. That seems funny as my girls are all grown and I have five grandchildren now. My human birthing days are long behind me. And yet…

And yet…

Buen Camino

Note: I have struggled these last few months to find something within myself to write and today this came to me. I don’t know if these words have any meaning to you all. They do feel profoundly imprinted upon me and I need to write them here. I pray that they will have some impact.

ONE MONTH AGO

My second arrival in Santiago. October 9th, 2021

One month ago today I walked into Santiago de Compostela. It was a very different experience from two years ago. Then I stood before the cathedral and…felt nothing. It wasn’t until the next day when a woman working in the Pilgrim’s Office spelled my name wrong on my Compostela that I felt something big. I looked at my misspelled name and the full impact of having walked 500 miles hit me like a great rushing wind. Thankfully it was no problem to issue me a new Compostela.

This year I hurried through the outskirts of Santiago carefully watching for those yellow arrows to find my way to the plaza so I could see Santiago gazing down from the cathedral. And when I stood there looking up I was seized with this thought…

I made it! I’m here!

That moment repeated itself the next day when my friend Viv and I went to the Pilgrim’s Mass in the cathedral. We waited in a long line outside the cathedral for an hour and a half. At 11:00 am the doors opened to allow us entry for the noon mass. We wended our way through the cold cathedral and suddenly upon turning a corner there was the center of the church.

I made it! I’m here!

The Botofumeiria
The Altar
Saint James/Santiago

After walking for 51 days I am here in the cathedral where the legendary bones of Saint James are buried. I have been processing what all this means to me. I haven’t made much progress but every day I pull out various memories of my time on the camino and try to sort it all out within my heart and soul. I do know my walk has made me different.

Two years ago, just a few weeks into my walk I knew I wanted to walk the Camino Frances again and I wanted to walk it alone. This time as I entered Santiago I sensed I had done what I came to do. Five days later I felt the pull of the pilgrim’s walk again. Maybe it’s because this time as I made it into Santiago I was in shape to walk the camino unlike when I started. But I sense it is deeper. This pilgrimage changes me every time and I believe there is still more within me to change.

Buen Camino

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Today I saw a man pose his little dog in front of a statue in the square. I will say he was a well behaved dog and even looked at his owner and barked for him on cue.

If you spend all morning looking for someplace that sells postcards within 30 minutes of buying some at the first place you found them, you will find better ones at half the price. Thank goodness I didn’t have to break a €50 note for 2 postcards.

The sound of a rooster is actually pleasant after 10:00 am.

No matter how slowly you ask a Spanish person something they will answer with at least 30 seconds of rapid fire Spanish for the response. If you tell them you don’t understand they will repeat themselves at the same speed.

Iberia airlines apparently has no way to read their website in English.

Custard, flan, and crème brûlée are really all the same thing.

A large bed on the Camino is really just two twin beds pushed together.

A “tortilla” is an egg pie with potatoes.

Spain is beautiful and it’s people are very nice 😊

Buen Camino

DOGS IN RESTAURANTS

If you’ve been to Europe you’ve seen people who bring their dogs with them when they go out to eat. And it’s not only when eating outdoors, I personally have seen people bring their dogs inside of a restaurant and I have absolutely no problem with this. You see… the same people who bring their dogs with them to a restaurant are the people who walk their dogs with no leash. These dogs are trained, well-behaved, and well loved by their owners.

Over 10 years ago my cousin from France was visiting. She, two of my daughters, my dog, and I took a trip to Gatlingburg, Tennessee in October when the color of the leaves was absolutely magnificent. We decided to go into town for lunch, found a place with outdoor seating and tried to get a table with my little dog in tow. ABSOLUTELY NOT! Eventually we had to settle for a table next to the fence surrounding the patio with Templeton on the outside of the fence. He was well behaved and sat quietly while people passing by would stop to pet him and remark on how he should be able to sit with his pack.

So here I am in Spain, eating outdoors at a wonderful cafe on the plaza, sharing my space with a pigeon. It’s not even a well behaved pigeon. It wanders around from table to table sometimes taking flight near diners.

So I ask you if you have to share your outdoor space (I’ll leave the indoor controversy for now) with someone’s well behaved chihuahua or beagle or an on-the-loose pigeon, which would you choose? Think about it…a well behaved dog gives you and your partner something to talk about other than how big the Amex bill is. Or in the case of my husband in me we don’t argue because I’m enchanted by the dog at the table next to us and wondering how our little dog is alone at home. Unruly children are captivated by a dog and don’t need to be pacified by a parent’s phone. That huge steak isn’t going to waste because Fido is going to share the meal. Plus the pigeon is basically a free agent. No one is in charge of it.

I’m going to suggest one more controversial thought. I was in a restaurant in Molinaseca when I saw a gray cat saunter into the restaurant, obviously unaccompanied. Two little girls at a table near me were captivated by this cat. No one screamed at the presence of this feline, no one’s head exploded, the cat didn’t even beg for food. It just walked around and left.

Full disclosure…I’m allergic to cats so I’ve never developed a real appreciation for the feline personality but I certainly respect others who do. If you want to bring you cat and it’s well behaved and willing to sit under your table for the duration of the meal…have at it.

My dog Pico (left) and his nephew Zinnie (short for Zinfandel)

I welcome (and encourage) your responses to this post.

Buen Camino

EL ACEBO

El Acebo, September 24, 2021

There’s a couple near me. He’s younger, Irish maybe. She’s older, Germanic. I can’t really hear their conversation and I don’t want to. I can hear the cadence of their voices and the conversation seems companionable. It’s pleasant and I feel happy to be in this place.

I stopped here because it seemed to be the only place open with food. The sign advertised empanadas. I was hungry and in need of a comfortable place after my morning.

I walked 8 miles from Foncebadon to El Acebo. I thought it was going to be an easy walk after the 16.76 miles that I did yesterday. It was not. It was cold, windy, and rainy. I stopped at Cruz de Fierro, had a little cry, sang a song, and left the stone I carried from home.

And now I’m here in a little hippy bar run by Germans. I love it. The food is simple and good, and the atmosphere is peaceful. Everybody seems to think that today is different somehow. The traffic is slower and maybe there is something different about the pilgrims.

I saw the Spanish man I walked with yesterday for a short time. He’s a former professor of humanities (in 5 languages) at Notre Dame. We had a most interesting conversation about health care, education, the history of Castilla and why the people of Léon want to separate from Castilla.

I met some lovely American women who are on their first camino. They were so happy to be here. We had fun discussing how good the Santiago cake is.

It feels like today has come full circle with the morning difficulties blending in with the pleasantness of the afternoon. As the bartender said to me, “There can be no light without the darkness”. Even more, the light and the dark together have made for a very good day.

Buen Camino

NO BOB EVANS ON THE CAMINO

Today’s title is not a reflection of a hankering for things American. No. Rather it’s indicative of my lack of full understanding when it comes to ordering food.

I can never find exactly what I want on the Bob Evan’s menu but i know I can tell the waitress what I want and she will bring it to me: two eggs over easy, chicken sausage, dry whole wheat toast, jam, and coffee. Simple, no problem. But things are not the same in Spain.

This morning I asked for one fried egg, toast with jam, and coffee. The menu has two eggs with pieces of baguette. My toast was on the side with jam and my coffee. I hadn’t planned on the extra bread and I hate to waste food. So I wrapped the bread in my napkin and tucked it in my backpack along with the apple I bought yesterday.

Breakfast in Hospital de Obrigo

So I had a good breakfast and later I can stop for a second cafe con leche and have a second breakfast.

Buen Camino