AN ALTAR UPDATE

On May 20th I wrote a post about finding an altar of rocks along the path I was walking. Since then a devastating tornado ripped through Dayton leaving my home untouched and the walls of other homes torn apart so you can see into the rooms like a child’s dollhouse.

Last Sunday we were taking another long walk that took us through the metro park past the dam. I was thinking about all the destruction that tornado wrought and I wondered if my little altar of rocks had survived.

Picture taken May 19th
Picture taken June 2nd

Now I know that the tornado didn’t pass by the dam so I shouldn’t have been anxious or surprised to see that the altar was still there. But there was something that spoke to me after seeing trees with three foot diameter trunks be uprooted and yet these stones, gently and carefully placed one atop the other should remain unscathed.

The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever

Isaiah 40:8

DEAR GOD

Dear God,

This week several tornadoes came through Dayton, Ohio. I slept through them and when I looked out my window I didn’t see any sign of damage. My trash and recycling cans are right where I left them. And yet around the corner tree limbs littered the street and less than two miles away walls have been torn off of buildings leaving the interiors exposed like doll houses.

Dear God

What am I thinking of this morning? I’m thinking of a 15 miles walk ahead of me and I’m worried I won’t make it. Did I bring enough water? Do I have an extra pair of socks? Did I apply enough sunscreen so as not to get a sunburn?

Dear God,

My prayers are small and self centered. Open my eyes and ears to see the world as You see it. Open my mouth to whisper the words of comfort that your world needs from me. And if you have time, please don’t let me get a blister. Amen

PILGRIMS, THEY’RE ALL OVER THE PLACE’

Each year about 250,000 people walk the Camino de Santiago. The majority of those are European, more than 90%. About 5% are Americans, that’s about 12,500. The population of the United States is 325 million.

https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/

That means that about .0008% of the US population walk the Camino each year.

.0008%!!!

You might think that you would never come across another pilgrim but I have not found that to be true. Two years ago at a 5 Day Academy for Spiritual Formation retreat one of the members in my covenant group was about to embark on the Camino.

Then there was the day in an REI store where I was trying on shoes. I casually mentioned to a woman next to me that we were going on the Camino. She was so excited. She said, “We did that last year!”

Then about six months ago at a session of the 2 Year Academy for Spiritual Formation one of the attendees invited a guest for the week. She was in the room next to mine so we frequently saw each other coming and going and had a chance to talk. I told her that some of us had been talking about the Camino and I was going to do it. She said, “I did the Camino.” We spent a lot of time that week sharing meals and talking about her experience. She had a presentation on her laptop and I helped arrange for her to give a talk to those interested during our free time. She even had a manuscript which she asked me to read. And a few months ago it was published on amazon.

Click here to see Sarah’s book on Amazon

Full disclosure-Sarah gave me a copy of her book after I read her manuscript.

This Memorial Day weekend my husband and I decided to take a trip to Lexington to do some hiking. Going through the breakfast line I was chatting with a woman and I mention we were going hiking, training for the Camino. She said, “I did the Camino in 2008. You’re going to have a blast!” She told me all about their pilgrimage and sent me some of her photos. I’m looking forward to exchanging more emails with her.

These fellow pilgrims have been a source of comfort and edification to me. There’s a certain shared experience that they are all anxious to tell. They know that this is going to be an experience like no other for me. They all reassure me that I will make it through this journey and that it will change me.

It’s as if camino pilgrims are meant to find each other.

CARRY NO PURSE, NO BAG, NO SANDALS

Luke 10:1-23 tells the story of Jesus sending out the 70. They are to make disciples ( the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few). They are to take nothing, enter a town, bless a household, eat what is given them, heal the sick, and share the message that the Kingdom of God is near.

Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals

I’ll be carrying a 28 liter backpack filled with clothing, toiletries, food, cell phone, portable keyboard, cables & extra batteries, and more. While the exact contents are not fully decided upon this pack will weigh around 15 pounds. Right now I’m in awe of those disciples who carried nothing. I’m packing at least 3 pairs of socks: 1 to wear, 1 to change into at midday, 1 to wear the next day in case the two I wash at night aren’t dry by morning.

Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals

What would Jesus say to me if he saw my backpack? Would he jokingly roll his eyes, smile, and say, “My child you have all that you need.” Would he see my fear of being vulnerable without a backup battery? Doesn’t he know how frightened I am trying to figure out what I truly need?

Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals

Oh God help me to know what it is that I really need and trust that it will be enough. Amen

WEIRD STUFF WE BOUGHT FOR THE CAMINO

Five years ago my husband and I went to Italy for an organized bike ride through Tuscany. We have travelled quite a bit in Europe, mostly in France as I have family there and several other places in Europe for business in which I, as the devoted wife, must go to keep my husband from being lonely. Anyway, Italy has long been on my list of places to visit and now we were going.

Since I’ve been to France several times I try to not look or act too much like a tourist. So you can imagine my surprise the first day as we were walking through Florence when I saw this!

Do you see that thing clipped to the collar of my husband’s shirt?! That, my friends, is what’s known as a hat clip. It’s so the wind won’t blow your hat away or if you take the hat off you won’t forget it because it’s still attached to you. I was horrified and rightfully made fun of him for looking so much like a tourist. In fact I made fun of him for years whenever he wore that thing until… I bought a hat for the Camino. And since I have a tendency to put things down and forget to pick them up I thought it would be a good idea to get one.

Click here to see the one I bought.

I do not receive anything in return for including this link.

And you can make fun of me 🤪

AN ALTAR HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

Yesterday on our walk through the Metro Park and dam I was looking at all the rocks along the side of the dam (you might say they are “dam” rocks ;-)). I was also thinking about the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross) on the Camino.

The Cruz de Ferro is an iron cross along the camino and tradition has it that pilgrims bring a rock along their journey from home to place at the foot of the cross. Often times the rock symbolizes a particular prayer or a question that the pilgrim is seeking an answer to on the Camino.

There is a beautiful well written description of the Cruz de Ferro at this link here.

So I was walking along the foot of the dam just looking at all the rocks…

I was imagining all the prayers that might be attached to those rocks and suddenly I saw a carefully stacked set of rocks that could not have naturally ended up in that way. Someone went out of their way to create an altar here in this place.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all built altars to God. I wonder who placed these stones and what their prayer was. What stone will I take on the Camino and what will my prayer be?

What will God answer?

BLISTER IN THE SUN

Every walk is an opportunity to learn something, to try out a new article of clothing or a piece of equipment, or to encounter a new experience. This weekend was one such opportunity and to be honest my experience was one I had hoped to never have.

I got a blister on my little toe.

How did this happen?

I took all the proper precautions: shoes that fit well, socks that are moisture wicking and quick drying, not showering in the morning so that my feet would be very dry when I started on the walk.

We decided to travel to Hueston Woods to hike the 11 mile loop around the lake there. We had done this before on bicycle to get used to some hilly terrain. There’s a park road that goes around the lake, but just inside the wooded area there is a trail which also goes around the lake but on a less even terrain.

It’s been raining quite a bit lately and the trail was very muddy. We did well until we came across a patch of mud that we could not go around. Suddenly I was up to my right ankle in muddy water. So much for my dry feet.

When skin gets wet the water soaks in making the skin softer and causes it to break down. This is known as maceration. And when that thin softened skin rubs against a wet sock that’s when blisters happen.

We continued on to the lodge for lunch at our midway point. I took my shoes off to try and dry out my socks but there wasn’t enough time and I couldn’t find a hand dryer to expedite the process. So I finished the walk, a total of 8.62 miles with a small blister on my toe.

Lesson Learned

Carry an extra pair of socks to change into in case your feet get wet.

BLISTER IN THE SUN PART 2

The next day we took a longer walk, 11.26 miles. I carefully wrapped my toe in rock tape and felt confident that nothing would rub against the blister and I packed a thicker second pair of socks in case we got wet. We did have to cut our walk short (we had planned for 15 miles) as my toe was hurting and when I got home the blister was huge. Then it broke as I removed the rock tape. You can read up on all kinds of ways to care for a blister, but the most important thing is to maintain as much of the skin covering the blister intact. This will adhere to the wound and help the blister heal quicker. For now there will be no walking today so I will try a little cross training by riding my bike.

For more information about rock tape click here

Note: I have received no compensation for providing this information.

ABOUT THOSE SHOES… MISTAKE #2

Remember those boots that I thought were very comfortable for the Camino? Well it turns out I was wrong. Maybe not “wrong” exactly, just mistaken. When I bought those boots my main values were good ankle support and waterproofing so my feet would stay dry. And those boots fulfilled my needs perfectly.

However I began to notice that when I went for a walk I was more inclined to grab my sneakers than my boots. I told myself it was just easier to slip on my sneakers instead of pulling on the tall hiking boots. I told myself that it was OK because I was still happy with the support, waterproofing, and comfort they provided. But I started to think I wasn’t being fully honest with myself. Truth be told my boots were all those things that I valued, but I realized that I also value shoes that aren’t so heavy.

Once again I have to thank REI. They took my boots back and spent a great deal of time helping me try out trail runners. I settled on these Salomon X-Mission 3 Trail-Running shoes.

I bought a half size larger than my normal size. I also spent several minutes on the little fake hill at REI with my toes in a downward position to see if my toes would slide to the toe of the shoe. Plenty of room. They are very comfortable and while I had a little rubbing around my janky ankle (say that 3 times fast) that went away quickly. I haven’t really worn them in the rain but I have washed them and they definitely dried overnight. Bonus: I found a color I really like in the outlet store so they were a little cheaper. Downside: Fitness trainers have always told me that my shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. I have currently walked over 150 miles and there is some small noticeable wear on the soles. Of course, keep in mind that I am walking mostly on concrete sidewalks and asphalt. Click here to see the REI page for these shoes.

I MADE A MISTAKE…

Walking and carrying your entire worldly belongings on your back is incredibly daunting. Every item must be exactly what you need, it should be as lightweight as possible, and it should be high performing. Plus, I want it to look good too. I’ll probably tell you more about my choices but for now I want to talk about my waterproof jacket.

Last spring Glen had a conference in Paris and I wondered into an Eddie Bauer store looking for anything but a raincoat. The first sales clerk who saw me asked if I had seen their new line of raincoats. Hey I didn’t know what I was looking for, why not look at raincoats?

I tried on this little black trench coat and found it to be amazingly light and it looked really good on. It would look good with jeans or a dress. So I bought it and I absolutely love it.

For the Camino I knew I would need a rain jacket. It needed to be absolutely waterproof and wind resistant. After much searching I settled on an amazing electric blue rain jacket. Enter credit card info and addresss, press “place order” and my new jacket was on its way.

When I first tried it on my arms slid into the sleeves and the jacket was roomy enough for a couple of light layers. Ahhhhhhh and such a pretty color 😊. I wore my new jacket a lot. It was great in the rain; it kept me very dry. It also stopped the wind from getting through. It was also a veritable sauna. I was dry from the outside elements but I was drowning in my own sweat. Even the pockets were waterproof. One day in the rain I realized I forgot my gloves so I just put my hands in my pockets to keep warm. Pretty soon I noticed that puddles were forming in my pockets. Not good.

My enthusiasm for my gorgeous blue jacket waned. I really disliked putting it on. Every time I looked at my rain jacket it seemed like it was mocking me.

Thank goodness REI lets you return items, no questions asked, up to a year after the purchase. So I took it back. And guess what? A few weeks later I was in an Eddie Bauer store and they had these great little rain jackets made with their water shedding technology, pit zips and ventilated pockets. This jacket even weighs a few ounces less than my other jacket and it was cheaper. I’ve worn it in the rain several times and it does what it promises. The color isn’t so exciting, but hey, dry and comfortable beat color any day.

HEALTH QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CAMINO ARE KILLING ME

What if my husband and I get separated on the Camino and I get hurt and I’m unconscious???

Should I have some kind of ID to alert caregivers to any medical conditions I may have, medications I am taking, and emergency numbers?

Oh crap! Emergency numbers…if it’s the middle of the night my oldest will say, “I was asleep! Don’t call me in the middle of the night! I have children!” click

The middle one will say, “Huh? Who? Uhhhh….” click

The youngest will say, “Hello? Yes? How serious is it? I’m in charge. I have the passwords and the account numbers. I know how to access the money. Thank you.” click

I sent the above entry to my oldest for editing and this is her response…

First of all, your youngest doesn’t know how to pay her own bills, let alone access your money. And I won’t answer the phone and complain they woke me up, I will just sleep through it. You are way over thinking this. Yes, you should have some kind of emergency action plan, such as a list of emergency numbers and their relationship to you. And having a medication list is a good idea too, but you will be in a foreign country and those medications may be different/unknown to your medical person.

Include Daddy’s phone number on your list and know that you are not the first person to travel abroad, be injured, and be separated from the person you came with. After all, it wouldn’t be that different if you went for a bike ride with Daddy, got hit by a car, and separated from him. The police and medical personnel have policies and procedures in place already to handle these situations.

I can only speculate that my youngest would respond, “I do so know how to pay my own bills. I’m a grown ass woman!”

And the middle one would say, “What are you talking about?”

Please God, protect me from physical injury on the Camino. Amen