Friday, January 29, 2010

"Solvitur Ambulando"

"It is solved by walking" says St. Augustine. After reading Sil's comment, I decided to repent! That is, literally, to rethink. My mind and heart were in a dueling match. There is only one thing to do when that happens. Go for a walk! I headed out to Buttermilk Falls, tuned in to the ethereal sounds of Libera on my MP3 player, and put one foot in front of the other. Why was I backtracking on my plans to walk the Camino? Because I wanted to be comfortable? Because I wanted it my way? This is supposed to be a pilgrimage, not a vacation, after all. There was a reason that the idea to walk the Camino seemed to fall into place this year. Am I losing faith in the idea of walking in faith? That my needs will be provided for in some way? As Sil said, what might I be missing out on that I will not have a chance to recapture for eleven years? Think of all the wonderful people I will miss meeting if I don't walk there this year. Perhaps I need to "celebrate" instead of "meditate" this year. I can always go back again for a quieter camino some other year.

As these thoughts trickled through my brain, a gentle sense of knowing came over me. Voy a caminar El Camino Frances esta primavera, despu├ęs de todo! (How's my Spanish, Tuula?) Just as my decision was made, a hawk took off from a barren tree branch above me and glided a few hundred yards down the trail.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Come One, Come All, to Santiago

The buzz on the Camino forums is that the Camino Frances will be packed this year due to not only the Holy Year, but also the fact that the Pope will be visiting Santiago. Some predictions say there will be ten million people coming through Santiago this year. Not all will be pilgrims, of course, but there is bound to be a surge on the already extremely popular route. Many veteran pilgrims are saying take another route or wait a year to go, unless you think you'll like feeling like you are in the middle of a herd of cattle. Forget solitude! This has been my dilemma lately. I WILL be walking somewhere, just not sure where. The Camino Portugues has its advocates, but it is only a week's walk and mostly on tarmac. The Coastal route is brutal physically and I don't think I'm ready for that. I could go on pilgrimage to somewhere else, for example Canterbury or Rome, but somehow thats just not what I want right now.

I ran across a blog by a Kiwi woman who walked the whole camino to Santiago from Le Puy, France, a couple of years ago. That's a thousand miles!!! Her description of the walk through France sounded lovely, not very crowded, and the French Gites d'Etape (hostels) were quite nice and had the advantage of being available to be booked ahead. She doesn't expect the route as far as St. Jean du Pied de Port will be very much more crowded this year. So, here is what is going through my mind: Walk the Le Puy route (also known as the Via Podiensis) as far as St. Jean this year, and return to walk the rest next year after the Camino Frances part has settled down a bit. I have to come back and finish to get my "Compostela" certificate, so I am proposing doubling my walking plans. Arggghhh! Am I nuts?

One advantage is that I know a bit more French than I do Spanish. Not that I'm fluent or anything. And I have always wanted to see the French countryside. This route goes through the least densely populated part of France, and by Margaret's blog pictures, it is charming. A lot of up and down, but hills, not steep mountains. Most of it is in the Massif Central. Check out Margaret's blog at chemincamino08.blogspot.com.
She says, "Il faut aller doucement" (It is necessary to go gently) and that every descent has an equal and opposite ascent! So it will be a workout! I'll just have to "walk in a relaxed manner" as every good pilgrim knows.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"The best laid plans..."

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
Mary Oliver

It has been a long time, I know, and, no doubt, my fans are rabid with curiosity, but there are new plans afoot. So be patient. More to come.....