““The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
― Mother Teresa”—A Simple Path: Mother Teresa (via duryanfam)
My trek from roncesvalles to Larrasoana on the camino in Spain
Today I walked from roncesvalles to Larrasoana, about 27.4 kilometers. It was physically quite possibly the hardest day of my life. Iknow that sounds like the melodramatic rambling of a tire and sore pilgrim, but really. I almost did not make it to my destination. I started off as the eager joven, filled with energy. This put me at an impossible pace to maintain. This first day also was one of the hardest treks, being the most I think I haw ever walked in a day, about 16 miles on terrain going up and down on painful loose rocks. My feet began to hurt so badly that I couldn’t walk more than 400 meters without tears coming to my eyes. Little by little I fought my way there. I also had a hard time picking up the trail. The beautiful thing about the camino is that it lets you get lost. The moment of uncertainty when you must make a choice, left or right, stop or continue, these are the moments where growth occurs. And just when you are sure you chose poorly, a beautiful yellow arrow appears, and you know everything will be ok. Because I am not alone.
I spend my five minutes every other day on my camino through Spain to check messages and I get this exciting announcement! About time a president steps up and does the right thing. Way to go, Mr. President!
So I've got something cool as ever to tell you. I am studying psychology. I love children. I love to learn about my faith. I am also a twin! I am 20 years old. I am also liberal. You said you're in the middle of 6 books right now- I am probably in the middle of 6 also! Please follow me. I can tell I will love what you post.
That sounds awesome! Crazy that we have so much alike.
It was really exciting to be in Paris, even if only for an hour. The language and culture has always fascinated me. I enjoy conviuncing flight attendants that I am from Spain and don´t speak any English so they speak to me in French or Spanish (with more success from the latter). As we now head towards Spain, I am becoming more and more overwhelmed with excitement. I am still deciding on what city I will stay in tonight. How cool is that_ Never, truly never, have I felt such freedom. In unending anticipation (and partly due to the fact that I brought no other books thanks to the weight), I broke out the famous guide book, already dear to me. ¨There are no guarantees in the life of a pilgrim and we are well served by developing an attitude of gratitude for all learning experiences found along the path. I am falling for this experience already and I have yet to begin.
I landed in Bilbao and it appears I underestimated how big the city is. I assumed I could just walk to wheverever I wanted to go. Nope. I am waiting for a bus that leaves for San Sebastian in half an hour. Hopefully I can find a way to get to Loyola from there. As hard and scary as it may be meandering through unfamiliar territory, the risk is exciting. Without risks one cannot fully live.
I stumbled off my bus in Loiola and did a full 360 turn, taking in the magnificent vista. I saw a large church looming in the background, so I thought I would check it out. A Jesuit priest named Padre Javier came up to me and started asking abll about myself and telling me about St. Igantius of Loyola. He opened up a private alberghue to me that <I now have all to myself. I was given a full and thorough tour of the church grounds, including where St. Ignatius was born and the chapel of his conversion. I was offered dinner with Javier, some wine, and was asked to join him for breakfast. This random and unexpected display of kindness caught me off guard and I am coming to greatly admire the SPanish for that. It was a gerat end to the day. Now time for bed at 10pm (first time in a long while that has happened).
And now on the 8th, after graciously being invited to mass (in the very room of Ignatius´conversion) and then breakfast, I was told by Padre Javier that I would stay another day in Loiola. I was confused since I had recently told him I was planning on heading to Roncesvalles after breakfast. He said (I am translating here): ¨you may, but I think no. You will walk peacefully and without destination. You will sit and pray and learn and reflect and pray some more. YOu have received information of the mind, I have given you information with my voice, you have seen information of Ignatius in his house and his point of conversion, all with your eyes, but now you must take tiem for information of the heart–information of God. This is the most important part of a pilgrimage. This is the time you center yourself, that you take in the time and motivation and strength that God will provide for you throughout your camino. You will stay, and then in time when you are truly ready, you will continue to Roncesvalles and formally begin your journey.¨ Right before leaving, Javier gave me a daily gospel booklet. He flipped to today´s reading and we saw that it was a reference to King David. ¨God works in mysterious ways, but you, David, are meant to be here.¨ All of this was exactly what I needed to hear, and I truly believe that God was working through Padre Javier these last few days. I couldn´t be more grateful.
I am now even more grateful. Without my asking, Padre Javier gave me directions to a Jesuit novitiate (de Francisco Javier) in San Sebastian that he recommended I stay in, thus saving me the trouble of wandering aimlessly until I could find a place. He also gave me the name of a bookstore next to a beautiful cathedral. IN the bookstore I was to get a book called ¨Peregrinar, por fuera y por dentro,¨ or ¨To make a pilgrimage, internally and externally.¨ He gave me 15 euros to buy it and it has already been a great spiritual guide for me. Incredibly, Javier did not stop there. He had called the noviciate, without my knowing, and had told them I was coming. He had them offer me dinner and breakfast, a room to myself, a shower and towel, and great company, all free of charge. I still can´t believe it. I am being spoiled. To add to my great day, upon arriving in San Sebastain I quickly became lost (not quite the great part). After wandering, a 72 year old gentleman came up to me asking if Iw as a pilgrim. I said that I was. He then replied that he has walked the camino 7 times, but no longer is able. He offered to walk me to my destination and did just that. The novitiate was across the city (about an hour and a half walk) but he walked it with me. Incredible. The kindness of random strangers continues to humble and amaze me. I now sit here having just showered in my own room, and I can´t help but shake my head in gratitude, filled with love and appreciation. The peregrino said goodbye with a warm ¨buen camino.¨ My journey has already been just that.
I arrived safely at the novitiate and was warmly greeted by 12 Jesuits. One in particular, also named Javier amazingly, has been particularly kind and helpful to me. I was given a free meal, and have had some great conversations already. It seems that everyone whom I encounter is incredibly friendly, kind, and helpful. The hospitality of many of the Spanish people continues to amaze me, and I am sure I will keep saying so. I sang with the Jesuits and told them all about what has brought me here. Now I look forward to mass and breakfast (also gratis) tomorrow and then my trip to Roncesvalles where I can officially begin my pilgrimage. The days seem longer here, with my doing so much more within them. I can´t imagine the impact another month here will have on me, for I already feel greatly impacted in the last few days. I wake up excited to embark the adventures each day holds. And, as I will right after typing this, I go to bed content with thoughts of the beautiful experiences I have encountered throughout my time here and the many more to be lived in the future.