¡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!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Santander, Day 2

Today is the feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist and Apostle. I just returned from Mass at the Cathedral here in Santander (where I also got my passport stamped one last time!) and the Gospel reading was particularly poignant to me; Jesus sends the disciples out two by two ordering them, among other things, to bless each house that receives them with peace and to accept graciously whatever is set before them by those who welcome them in. Of course, they are also to proclaim the Good News that the Kingdom of God is near. I hope, I hope, I so deeply hope, that in some way I have followed those commands over the past months on the Way. I certainly haven´t lived as free of 'stuff' as the first apostles did, I carried more than 30 pounds/14 kilos of personal possessions on my back, but I have tried to be kind to all, greet peaceably those I have met, be grateful for every kindness extended to me, especially gestures of hospitality, and in some small way, preach and teach in word and deed that the Kingdom of God is not far from any of us. I certainly have felt the closeness of that Kingdom throughout these 70-plus days on the road, in the many people I have met and befriended, in the blessings of nature, in the solitude and prayer. I am and will always be profoundly grateful and humble as the Way continues in my life, wherever it leads.
Tomorrow, I catch an early bus out of Santander and seven hours later will roll into Santiago de Compostela. I will meet up with my great friend from my first pilgrimage four years ago, Toni, and we will eat, drink, tell a few stories, then, as pilgrims have been doing for 1000 years, I will ascend the great altar of the Basilica of Santiago and embrace his statue there, and more importantly, I will then descend below the main altar to his bones and say there my prayers for all who have accompanied me on my way, my family, friends, seminarians, brother priests, diocese, and all the good people who have taken me in and cared for me over these months or asked me to remember them when I finally got to Santiago. Most of all, I will thank James, Jacques, Santiago, Jacobus, for the privilege of being one of his pilgrims during this life.
Well, I'm finally getting to Santiago, not quite the way I had hoped, but good enough. I intend to hang around and help out in some way at least for a few days, so I expect pilgrim adventures will continue and I will continue to share them on this blog as they unfold. Pilgrim grace doesn´t stop rolling through our lives just because we stop walking, that´s a lesson I'm learning now.
So, on this feast of Saint Luke, I say to you all, Peace be on you and your house!