¡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!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Saint-Leonard-de Noblat

Well, today was quite a day.
Though it began with gray skies above, and damp cold once again marking the morning, from my very first steps out the pilgrim refuge in Chatelus, my legs felt strong and my energy unflagging. In the first couple of hours I was clocking almost 6 kms./hour going both up and down plenty of Limousin’s hills and dales. Later, the pace dropped back to about 5 kms./hour, but still great for me; I was flying today, and even Gregory the Great on my back couldn’t slow me down. With only a couple brief rest stops and a 45 minute lunch break in a small bar in Le Chatenet, I covered the 30 kms. to Saint-Leonard in a little less than 6 hours. So as not to crow too much, Jacqueline, my 65+ roommate last night and tonight, did the same.
I was quite fatigued when I reached the great church at the heart of this town, but joyful too, at having had a great walk (the sun even came out in the afternoon as in celebration!).
With Gregory still riding my back I dipped into the church, a strange melange of styles and medieval rebuilds, but beautiful nevertheless. Almost immediately, my eye caught a wood crucifix in the early medieval style, next to the altar. I went over to it, and was deeply taken by the unpainted image of Christ in his moment of transition: life, death and new life all captured in his serene face. His extended arms seemed to embrace me and bless me, as if he were herein answering my oft-repeated question on the road (expressed none too piously):”Are you still walking with me, Jesus?” Then unexpectedly my eyes welled and I had my first pilgrim cry in a thousand kilometers. I kissed his feet in gratitude for everything.
In just a little while I’m going out for a “last supper” with Jacqueline; this perky little pilgrim heads home to Paris tomorrow morning.

P.S.We ended up having pizza and cheap Italian champagne in the refuge...not bad, and fun! I'm tired, so soon to bed!