¡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!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Limoges, day 2

I enjoyed a long and deep sleep last night; it’s a wonder what sleeping between clean sheets can do after night after night sleeping in a bag!
I headed into a very quiet Limoges this morning in search of Mass at one or other of the three major churches in the old city. The Cathedral was locked, the Eglise St-Pierre was also locked. “What’s up with this town; don’t they know it’s Sunday?”, I whined to myself.
So I walked up to the third church, Eglise de Saint-Michel-de-Lion, and found the doors open and the sound of a full congregation singing pouring out into the street! I went in, the liturgy just having begun, to find the church very full, and not just with old people; there were plenty of young people and children too.
The liturgy featured the baptism of a little girl, Naomi, which was finely integrated into the wider celebration and accomplished with a beautiful mix of solemnity and the personal touch of the pastor. I was likewise touched by how well the French sing in church; unlike so many of our American Catholics, they are not afraid to join in and make together a joyful sound to the Lord that fills their great gothic church, and, as I said, even pours out into the street.
I introduced myself to the pastor at the back of the church after Mass, during the French version of “coffee and donuts”, bite-size quiches, juice and champagne (I presume it was an extra today because of the baptism, but who knows, maybe they do this every Sunday!).
The pastor welcomed me warmly, and encouraged me on my way to Compostelle; I, for my part, thanked him for the beautiful Mass he had blessed me with on the way.
Tomorrow will be a long day, 27 kms., but I’ll follow that with two short ones. These long hikes of 27 or 30 kms. take too much out of me over the long haul.
For today, my mission is to rest up!