¡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!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Santiago, Day 4

"Day 4": already? Have I been here in Santiago that long? Long enough for this place that has captured my imagination for so very long begins to seem more ordinary and more like any other place even as the many more days trundling across Belgium and France take on a bit of a dreamlike status as well. I don´t really like the sense that Santiago de Compostela should begin to feel ordinary to me; I rather want it to remain a hope, a dream, a sacred place in my life. When that feeling gets too strong, I dip back into the Cathedral, wander about within its dark and cool interior, step down into the crypt where James´bones are kept in a silver reliquary, and there return to the base and reason for it all. Asking him to care for my family, my friends, our Louvain seminarians, those who have cared for me along the way, that brings me altogether back to the sense of being in a place out of time and beyond ordinary space, a holy site, a set of bones that draw us from such far away places to them mysteriously.
My appreciation for that crypt and the basilica built on top of it grew appreciably today during a personal tour of the Cathedral Museum given to me by Father Alejandro Barral, its founder and retired director. That crypt goes back to Roman times, the first century perhaps; on display where bits and pieces of pottery, glass, and even a stone button used to weave wool into thread, all testifying to its ancient past. If an apostle of Jesus were to be buried anywhere this would be it. The evidence that significant Christian cult on the site goes back into the very early centuries is also there. Those early Iberian Christians were paying attention to someone very special there from very early on. No one can prove it was the apostle James, but Christian writers were mentioning him and Spain together from way back as well.
The other thing that fascinated me was Don Alejandro´s description of the stone choir that originally stood within the nave of the basilica, it was a great work of art designed and executed by the third great architect of the basilica, Master Mateo. A segment of it has been re-erected in the Museum and it is spectacular, especially when its details and the spirituality behind them are described lovingly by someone who knows the place like his own child. That choir, an enclosed place within the church where the canons of the cathedral sang the daily office of psalms and readings, was designed to represent the New Jerusalem that is our Earth when it reaches its fullness in peace, justice and life under the loving hand of it Creator, the Father of All, through the saving grace of his Son and the refreshing breath of his Spirit. I love that image from Revelations/Apocalypse; "all will be well and all will be well" it reminds us (in the words of Julian of Norwich).
So it is that image along with that of Santiago´s crypt that I take to bed with me tonight. Sleep well for all will be well and all will be well...