¡Buen Camino!

Dear Friends,
It has taken three tries and nine years, but as of July 2012, I have finally walked the entire Way of Compostela from my former home in Leuven/Louvain, Belgium, to Santiago de Composela!
My first pilgrimage experience from the French frontier with Spain to Santiago itself took place in 2003. You can read the details of this first walk along the famous Camino across Spain in my book, To The Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (2008). (You can order it from the publisher, from Amazon.com, or from your local bookseller).
In the summer and early fall of 2007, I walked from Belgium most of the way across France, with the hope of at least making it to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port near the Spanish border, where I began the first pilgrimage. I didn't quite make it. A bad case of plantar fasciitis took me down in the Bordeaux village of Sainte-Ferme. I continued on to Santiago by train and bus, but the "defeat of my feet" and those last 175 miles or so that were left undone, gnawed at me over the ensuing five years. Happily, I was finally able to wrap up this grand pilgrimage with a third walk from Sainte-Ferme to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port this past summer (2012). It was a joy to have completed all 2,370 kilometers between Leuven and Santiago.
My adventures and misadventures, my thoughts and prayers of both the 2007 and 2012 pilgrimages have been shared in this blog. I will leave the blog and its archives open for some time to come; if you want to read bits and pieces of it, feel free, but remember that the beginning is at the bottom and the end is at the top.
My contact e-mail remains the same: kacodd@gmail.com; I am always happy to receive mail!
As the pilgrims in Spain greet one another, so I greet you, my reader: "Buen Camino!"
And as the people of France greet their pilgrims along the "Chemin", I also wish to you: "Courage!"

Grace and peace to you all!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Day Off

Bénévent-l'Abbaye, (Day Two):
Sometimes, a pilgrim just has to stop and take a breath. That is true while he is walking: a five minute pause (or maybe a half hour!) is wonderfully restorative and new energy is found for getting down a day's long road. The same is true on the bigger scale of the overall pilgrimage: every once in a while, the pilgrim just has to take a day off from walking and give his body and mind a bit of a rest.
I had been feeling increasingly weary over the last few days. Yesterday was my tenth day in a row to walk and I've covered over 200 kilometers in those days, most of it generally uphill, some of it steep. Not only are my legs feeling tired, but my mind, too, feels really too full of maps and directions and little yellow arrows pointing me this way or that. Last night, I asked my hosts here in the B&B, Clare and Chris, if it would be possible to stay an extra day with them; they said it wouldn't be a problem at all so I told them I'd make up my mind by morning. I awoke at about 4:30 am and my legs and feet felt so tired, even after so many hours of good sleep, that I decided then that this would be my well-deserved day of rest and recuperation. I'll need it since the upcoming days onto the big city of Limoges will require plenty of effort; a lot of it involves serious climbing uphill and one of the three days is a big 29 kilometer day.
So today, I catch up on my e-mail, read, visit this village and spend some time in its wonderful 11th century church (formerly part of an abbey, which is all gone now), and just let my muscles and mind be happily lazy for a while. I always feel a bit guilty taking these days, but never so afterwards when their benefit is so obvious. I will be more energetic and cheerier tomorrow, a better pilgrim all around.

I want to send greetings to Edmon Benzon, one of our Louvain seminarians from Sorsogon, the Philippines, who is presently walking the Spanish Camino, having finished his degree in theology in early September. Before returning to the Philippines, he decided to take a month to walk from the French border to Compostela. May his own pilgrimage be a time of growth, renewal and preparation for the next stage of his life! Keep Edmon in your prayers, too, dear readers. So to Edmon wherever you find yourself on the road: a hearty "Buen Camino!"