DAY 2 CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN

Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

‘Till you find your dream.

Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music

Today was the second day for climbing mountains. The altitude gain was the same as yesterday, but at a lower grade. But make no mistake, it was up and it was continuously up. The thing is just when I got tired and had to stop I would look around and see the most magnificent sights.

“Oh my goodness!” Was my phrase of the day 😮

Of course there were other sights to see as well. We had to be very careful where we walked because the road was filled with horse poop, cow patties, sheep dip, and something that looked suspiciously like very dark blueberries, but didn’t smell like blueberries at all 💩

We also crossed over the frontier from France into Spain.

Here I am at the border trying to jump for joy 😄

This truly is an amazing place. My friend Gaye described it as magical and she’s right. It’s so beautiful and I almost hate to take a picture because I know that a photograph will never capture the immense beauty of this place.

For now it’s dinner time and after we will go to the church for the blessing of the pilgrims. I guess I am becoming a pilgrim.

DAY 1…AND SO IT BEGINS

I don’t know if I’ll make it,

But watch how good I fake it.

It’s alright, alright, tonight, tonight

Hot Chelle Rae, 2011

So none of the 10 plagues happened today and I did make it to our first stop Orisson. It was only 5.5 miles and I don’t have the exact elevation but my tracker tells me I climbed 82 stories. To give you a visual…

Somewhere down there in the distance is St. Jean Pied de Port, the starting point. To give you another visual of the beginning of the camino…

This is the Gate of St. James, a UNESCO site

I can’t begin to describe to you the people who are walking the camino: two brothers who started in the western most part of France and who walk the Camino once a week (they’ll cross over in to Spain today), a Dutch couple who live in France now are walking with their little dog, the man in a kilt who is walking the Camino barefooted, and a man from Australia who had the forethought to pack a baguette for his lunch.

I hope to see these people again and for now I will treasure their images and remember that we are all on the Camino.

I will also apologize for the poor writing and lack of better placement of the photos. There is so much to show and tell, and wifi/cell are limited.

For now…Buon Camino!

AVOIR COURAGE, AVOIR COEUR

There are two sayings in French…ok, definitely a lot more than just two sayings, but I’m just contemplating these two…

Avoir courage

Avoir coeur

Now you might think that the first saying means to be brave and the second to have heart, and you would be incorrect.

The French in their linguistic logic have the opposite meaning for those two phrases. In fact avoir courage carries a connotation of having fortitude, the wherewithal to keep going.

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage and being brave. This is the eve of the beginning of the Camino. For the past week I’ve been waking up with an upset stomach just thinking about this day. I know these are butterflies of fear and I am afraid of this mysterious walk that lies ahead.

Today we are in Bayonne, France and we leave in an hour and a half for St. Jean Pied de Port the departure point for the Camino Frances. We had lunch in the park, a sandwich made with Bayonne ham and a bottle of cider. I struck up a conversation with the woman next to us who was out for a walk with her dog. I love dogs and can’t help myself when I get the chance to pet one. Ok, plus I’m talkative 😉

During our chat she asked if we were on vacation and I told her we were on our way to walk the Camino. As we parted she waved and said, “Bon Courage!” For a moment fear grabbed ahold of me but then I remembered she was wishing me the will, the heart to carry on. And that has been the crux of my fear. Can I carry on?

Truthfully the answer is neither I nor anyone else knows if I’ll have the heart to persevere. But I do know this, I will face that fear tomorrow and probably every day on the Camino. And that’s ok because it’s not brave to do something you’re not afraid of.

Bon Courage!

The mountains in the distance is where we will be tomorrow.

My sign-in at the Pilgrim’s Information Center. It looks shaky because the pen wasn’t very good.

THE ALTAR REVISITED

I’ve written previously about an altar that I discovered at the metro park.

An Altar Hidden in Plain Sight, and An Altar Update

I’ve been captivated by that altar and try to visit it as often as possible when I walk in the park. The closer my trip becomes the more I think about it. So much so that I felt drawn to add to it. This weekend our two granddaughters were with us and we decided to go to the metro park.

I chose a rock from the ones we brought back from our trip to Zanesville. After looking over all the rocks we brought back, this time one did speak to me. So I decided to introduce it to the altar.

It seemed happy there and I offered up a prayer for the Camino and whatever we might find along the way. Then our granddaughters asked to add their own rocks to the altar. I’m not sure they really knew what they were doing but I am sure that God took those gifted rocks and showered blessings on them.

I will take my small rock and offer it at the Ferro Cruz, and hopefully my little Zanesville rock will continue to anchor me to my home.

JUST FOR 💩 & GIGGLES

A son says to his father, ” Dad, what I’d really like for my birthday is a car.”

Now the father thinks long and hard about this. Finally he says, “Son, if you want a car you’ll have to work hard for it. There are three things you’ll have to do.

1. Your grades need to come up.

2. Your mother is tired of nagging you so you’ll have to keep your room clean.

3. You’ll have to get a haircut”

The two shake hands

A few months later the son broaches the subject again. “Dad I’d like to talk about getting a car again. I’ve worked hard and brought my grades up to a B+ average and I’ve kept my room neat and clean. I know you said I had to get a haircut but I’ve been thinking about that. Jesus wore his hair long and I think I should be able to keep my hair long too.”

The father thought carefully and said, “Son we are proud of your grades and how you’ve kept your room clean. And I hear what you say about Jesus. But son you need to remember…

Jesus walked everywhere!”

😉

I wish I could credit whoever first told that joke but I can’t. All I can do is laugh when I think of it.

WHY AM I DOING THIS?

This weekend we had the great privilege of keeping our two oldest grandchildren (ages 4 and 5) over night. Mom and Dad were attending a conference hosted by CureSMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) a genetic disorder which our younger granddaughter suffers from.

Because I often see the girls 2-3 times a week I worry about the extended time we will be away from them while we are going to be on the Camino. So I took the time this weekend to try and explain where we are going, why we are going, and what we will be doing. Essentially I told them that we were going to take a walk with God because we haven’t spent much time with God lately, and that we would be walking 500 miles. I tried to put 500 miles in perspective for them. I’m not sure how good of a job I did explaining.

In the end I asked if they understood and after a pause our oldest granddaughter said, “Sure. You’re going to get your steps in.”

OK, works for me I guess 😉

I’M GOING TO WALK THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

I started planning for this journey over a year ago and posted this very first post last February. Since then many people have contacted and encouraged me along the way. The two questions I get all the time are:

1. How did you decide to do this?

2. Why are you doing this?

I’m reposting the answer to the first and as to the second, I’m still working on it.

🎒 🎒🎒🎒

I’m going to walk the Camino de Santiago. And today I’m starting my blog about it. Actually I started this blog in my head about six months ago, but today I am finally putting words to paper (screen?).

I saw the movie The Way when it first came out. That’s a prerequisite for walking the camino, right? I thought it was a great movie and while I got all the symbolism of the journey somehow I didn’t really understand that the Camino is a real thing. So I didn’t much think about it other than to recommend it as a good movie.

Then two years ago I was at a spiritual retreat in Georgia called The Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation*. One of the guys in my covenant group told us he was going to walk the Camino and that’s when I learned it really is a thing people do. But I didn’t think about doing it.

Then six months ago I was at another spiritual retreat, The Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation (because five days wasn’t enough) and over lunch the topic of the Camino came up and a little seed was planted.

At the end of that retreat I came home and told my husband about it and he said, “That’s a great idea. We should do that.” And I thought why doesn’t he ever say that when I suggest couple’s pedicures? So we talked about it. In fact it’s all we talked about for almost two weeks. What would we need? When would we go? How long would it take? How would we plan? It was “all camino, all the time”.

We slowed down a bit on the excited talking/planning but didn’t stop completely. Finally after two months of this I asked, “ Are we really going to do this?” And my husband said, “I think we are.”

*For more information about the Five Day & Two Year Academy for Spiritual go to academy.upperroom.org

I CHANGED MY MIND

I am convinced that every woman who has ever been pregnant with her first child has said sometime in her 8th month, “I changed my mind. I’m not going to do this.” But of course by then it’s too late. That baby is on her way and there’s no getting out of getting her out.

I changed my mind. I’m not doing this camino. Of course as much as I want to say that, I can’t because it’s too late.

Tickets have been bought.

Reservations have been made.

Equipment has been bought, discarded, lost, replaced, and packed.

Questions have been pondered, discussed, researched, and worried over.

Miles have been walked.

Lunges, squats, and crunches have been done.

Blisters have rubbed raw and healed.

Sunburns have peeled and been soothed.

Muscles have been stretched and eased.

Ankles, knees, and backs have been iced and rubbed.

Prayers have been offered up.

As I look over all these reasons why I can’t back out I’m most struck by the second half of the list. Sure a lot of money has been invested, but I’m realizing how much I’ve invested in me…my body, my mind, and my spirit.

I suppose I could still change my mind, but I don’t really want to. I started my camino almost a year ago and I’m not done yet.

CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL

I have been preparing for the Camino for almost a year now. I have been working out, researching what to take on the Camino, packing, unpacking & repacking my pack, reading memoirs & guidebooks for the Camino, shopping & bothering sales clerks at REI, and I know there are still dozens of things I need to do to be prepared.

My physical preparation has consisted of walking at least 5 days a week for anywhere between 2-8 miles, two cardio/strength classes, and a yoga class. I resolved to up my game this current month by walking 5-8 miles each day.

What is it they say about good intentions and a road to hell?

Six weeks ago I quit going to the gym, but I was still walking a couple of days a week. Then 3 weeks ago I stopped doing even a small amount of walking. In fact I’ve hardly left my house for the last three weeks. Every day I put clothes out to go to the gym or I promise myself I will at least take my little dog out for a walk, but I don’t do any of those things. I think I have hit the proverbial wall.

But maybe I’m turning a corner on that. Two days ago I ran into one of the women from my cardio class and she seemed to happy to see me. She asked about my trip and I had to tell her we haven’t left yet. Then I started telling her how I had stopped all my training and don’t even leave the house unless I absolutely have to. It was just pouring out, but at least I didn’t cry. She didn’t judge or try to minimize my fears. She just told me I was missed and she wanted me to come back to class.

So today I went back to the gym. I was greeted by so many people who thought I had been gone on the Camino and wanted to hear all about my adventure. I didn’t know what to say.

So I confessed.

And confessed

And confessed

And then class started. I worked and ran and lifted weights and made it through the hour.

I think that confessing and being vulnerable in that community of great women gave me strength to keep going. I don’t know that I’ve completely broken down the wall, but I definitely think a few bricks were loosened.

Confession is good for the soul.

And the feet

And the legs

And the arms

And the back

CHOOSE A PATH

I’ve been walking a lot around my town. Sometimes I walk to the library, sometimes to the grocery, sometimes through the metro park, ok and sometimes to the ice cream shop

🍦🍨🍦🍨😋

I know these roads like the back of my hand. I know how long it will take to reach my destination. I like the comfort of knowing where I am and how to get home, everything is really familiar. The Camino is an unknown. Everyday will be a different path. Everyday will require making the same decisions but with different results.

Isn’t everything in life like that? Just when things seem in place something or someone new comes along. You meet a new person that you think you’d like to be friends with and you have to begin learning all the basics, testing the boundaries seeing what you have in common and if your differences add to or detract from the friendship. It’s a path fraught with uncertainty and feels uncomfortable.

It’s like eating Thai food for the first time. How hot is a number 3, and just what is in that sushi??? Should I use the chopsticks or ask for a fork and knife? Will I embarrass myself? For Pete’s sake I just want to eat. It shouldn’t be this complicated.

Robert Frost says in his poem The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

But even Frost says he only chose one path and can’t really compare the two.

Matthew. 14:28-33 tells us the story of Jesus walking on the water. I think of it more as the story of Peter walking on the water because let’s face it, this isn’t Jesus’ first miracle or even his first time walking on water. And it is about taking a really different path. So here’s the story…

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’

I believe Peter has not really thought through the implications of his request.

He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat,

I’m sure that when Jesus told Peter to come, Peter looked over the edge of the boat and had an “Oh 💩” moment. He probably took some deep breaths and some not so gentle ribbing from the rest of the disciples in the boat. Maybe he even stuck a toe in the water to see if it was more solid than it looked. Well the story tells us that eventually he got out of the boat.

…and started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus.

But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

I probably would have used saltier language. Then…

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’

Now many folks think of this as a condemnation that Peter has no faith. I prefer to think of it as a parent’s exclamation when a child is afraid taking her first steps…

So I learned a few things while writing and meditating on this post.

1. Life is filled with decisions.

2. You can follow the herd or forge your own trail. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about either choice.

3. If you get into trouble things will probably still work out ok. Don’t beat yourself up because others are rooting for you.

And I guess if I get lost on the Camino I can always wander around singing Lady Gaga songs until I’m found…