¡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, October 14, 2007

Bordeaux, day 2

What a fine sleep I had last night: 9 hours without a single awakening! I guess I was more tired from yesterday’s difficulties than I realized. It would be easy to say that THIS day was not a pilgrimage day, but that would be entirely untrue.This Sunday in Bordeaux was an altogether pilgrim day, even if I never put on my boots, jerked Gregory the Great up unto my back, nor took my trusty poles Click and Clack, for another trek across Frances’s grand countryside.

My pilgrim day began with a slow limp out of the hotel and down the street past the Gare St. Jean to the Eglise St. Croix for Sunday Mass. While sitting in a pew waiting for the 9:30 liturgy to begin, a priest in alb came out of the sacristy and began moving through the church nave, greeting one by one those gathered there. When he got to me, I told him I was a pilgrim and a priest myself, and he immediately welcomed me to join him and another priest in celebrating the Mass. I felt the warmth of his welcome as a breath of brotherhood that made me feel I was at home even here in the big city. Standing with them at the altar, especially at the moment before Communion, brought me back to my roots, to the ground under my feet, to the beginning and end of my pilgrim Way; this Jesus, he is that ground, he is the root, he is my beginning and end.

I was asked to distribute Communion to the folks present; in an odd linguistic confusion that I ordinarily would not have made, I found myself saying, as I offered the host to those before me: “le Coeur de Christ” instead of “le Corps de Christ”, (“the Heart of Christ” instead of “the Body of Christ”), an error that also had its own deep resonance of truth about it. Later I slowly walked up to the Cathedral in the city center. I spent a lot of time just sitting in the dark quiet of one of its small side chapels which had as its central image a very emotive crucified Christ, the upper body and hanging head expressive of an agony accepted and given. There was some kind of varnish on the corpus that glinted as if wet under the low light of the chapel; it looked like sweat, the sweat of legs that had walked and worked and endured plenty. In the stillness there I felt like his sweat gave meaning to my own sweat over these past months of walking, walking, walking…

Thereafter, I went to the sacristy, rang the bell and asked to have my pilgrim passport stamped; the sacristan cheerily agreed and when he unfolded the “creencial” and saw it almost full of stamps on both sides let out a typically French “Oh la la”. I felt a little proud just then. His hearty stamping of my “creencial”, with the seal of the Cathedral of Bordeaux confirmed this Sunday as a veritable pilgrim day for sure. Tomorrow I’ll see if I can get a bit of medical attention for this foot, then I’ll make decisions as to what comes next on this pilgrim adventure.