Camino Santiago – April 2013

Pyrenees Horses, April 26
Last photo taken in the French Pyrenees on April 26, 2013. After snapping these horses I put my camera away. We were soaking wet.

Our Camino Santiago began on April 25, 2013 in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, French Pyrenees. The weather April 25 was beautiful. Perfect for hiking, meditating and snapping photos. We spent the  night of April 25 in the “honeymoon suite,” a tiny but private room at the Refugio Orisson, eight kilometres from, and about 800 meters higher than, our starting place in St.-Jean. Note: we did not ask for, or even have a clue about, the “suite,” the boss at reception just gave it to us.

April 26 was a mystical, but scary, experience. We set off very early and were careful to follow the well-marked trail with its yellow arrows. A mistake could have caused a sad mishap. Anita had sent her pack ahead to Roncesvalles’ public refugio; a wise decision that turned out to be…

Camino marker - French Pyrenees
Camino marker West of Orisson

Photos 3 and 4 in the set below show just the start of our walk from the Refugio Orisson across the mountains into Spain, where we had a night booked at the Hotel Roncesvalles. It was cold and very wet – a fine, persistent rain that did not let up. I put my Sony NEX-5N DSLR camera away after shooting the beautiful horses. It was already damp just from condensation when I removed it to shoot. Terrible visibility caused us to miss the Statue of the Virgin, a landmark that overlooks the valley no more than 30 metres from the trail, even though I knew when we were passing it! Continue reading “Camino Santiago – April 2013”

A Note (not entirely) to Self

The Syrians’ suffering is unspeakable and inflicted from without.

Mine is relatively puny and self-inflicted: isolation because none of the good folk close to me can tolerate my obsessive, and verbal, pessimism. In the grand theme of things this is pure self-pity caused by my depressing addiction to keeping track of what I believe are a myriad of clues all pointing to where the current world power struggles are dragging us, just as helpless as the Syrians, but still with our heads above water and distracted by our toys and stuff we have to manage and maintain, like the computer I’m using now.

This may be my last post on politics. The whole process is making me ill. I suppose all addicts have good intentions…

Saint Francis – Waaay Back Then

St. Francis Window at St. Anthony of Padua Parish Church - Brampton, Ontario
St. Francis Window at St. Anthony of Padua Parish Church – Brampton, Ontario

Canticle of Brother Sun

Saint Francis of Assisi

1224

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.

*********

Even a non-theist like me can appreciate the essential insight and thanks in this poem from the thirteenth century by the one whom I consider to be the first environmentalist – and a fellow Camino Santiago pilgrim!  I left the stanza on Bodily Death in (save for one line) because, religious or not,  we should all care about how we live while we are sharing this place and prepare for a departure eased – made joyful, even – by the sense that we have cared about our “Brothers” and “Sisters” on whom we depend and who, in turn, depend on our faithfulness to all life.

I found it (while looking for something else for a future blog) in my well-thumbed, autographed, copy of David Suzuki’s great 1997 book written with Amanda McConnell, The Sacred Balance.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.

 

Sunday In Pamplona

 

Encierro (Running of the Bulls) Monument
Encierro (Running of the Bulls) Monument

This is an email I sent to friends and family a year ago April that I just re-read today. Thought it would make a good post with some photos and a little editing:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breakfast at a cafeteria 50 m from our Pension Arrieta.

Also found the bus station (for tomorrow’s departure to Órbigo) 3 minutes walk from our door.

Viewed the mountains from the fortified lookout: El Rincón del Caballo Blanco:

Took in high mass (missa capitular) at Santa María Cathedral. Surprised that the Latin Gloria was still stored in my brain cells. Beautiful pipe organ :))) Great singing if you’re OK with all men’s voices. Unparalleled setting.

Presbytery - Pamplona Cathedral
Presbytery – Pamplona Cathedral (on Saturday

Met Jesús and Pinte outside the cathedral while looking at our map to find the beginning of the San Fermin bull run route. Jesús was dressed in black with the classic large black beret worn by Basques here. They assumed we needed serious help (we didn’t) and walked us to the Coralillos where 6 fierce and 6 less fierce bulls are corralled prior to the run. Continue reading “Sunday In Pamplona”

The Cockleshell and the Camino

Sewer cover in Arzúa sports the Cockleshell symbol of the Camino Santiago
Sewer cover in Arzúa sports the Cockleshell symbol of the Camino Santiago

Last year in Spain on our Camino Santiago my wife and I noticed that many sewer covers in towns along The Way contained motifs that showed the ancient symbol of the Camino: the cockleshell.

This shape of shell is found on the Atlantic coast beyond Santiago de Compostela. Early on in the 1000 year history of this pilgrimage, pilgrims returning home used the cockleshell as proof that they had completed The Way.

Among the blessings one, whether religious or non-theist, experiences are the reflective walk itself, the ancient architecture, the completely unspoiled countryside in some parts, researching the crazy, sacred HISTORY (omg!), the making of new, lasting friendships and, an unnecessary but wonderful bonus for us, spending tons of quality time preparing for the challenge, sharing the walk and sharing the memories – and talking about our next one!

Check out my posts in my Category, Camino Santiago. They vary from brief to very detailed with lots of photos and tips.

A Year Ago Today I Was A Geek

With backpack and MEC duds at Mount Chinguacousy
Anita with backpack and MEC clothes  at “Mount Chinguacousy” on Feb. 15, 2013

Last year I wrote this post and scheduled it to be published when we were already over in France/Spain doing our modified Camino Santiago. Somehow I messed up and it wasn’t posted, so it’s going in as an anniversary note, of sorts:

“Began real early preparing for our Camino Frances (the popular French route to Santiago de Compostela). First stage was to be through the Pyrenees. I estimated the “lowest freaky possible temperature ever” for our passage on the highest point at Col de Lepoeder (1427 metres above sea level) to be -7 degrees C on April 25 (when we expected to be doing it) My estimate was done by  checking the lowest temperature ever recorded for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on that date and subtracting about 0.65 degrees for every 100 m increase in altitude.”

I know, I was a geek. Still am.

We actually crossed the high point on April 26, 2013. The weather was terrible, Continue reading “A Year Ago Today I Was A Geek”

Open Our Hearts – A Song

Eunate Church near Óbanos, Navarre
Eunate Church near Óbanos, Navarre

Open Our Hearts is a religious song I wrote years ago for our church’s Lenten liturgy. I’ve added photos from our recent Camino Santiago in April and May, 2013. There are more songs (not all religious) to come; I add them when the spirit moves… You will find the ones I’ve “You-Tubed” on the My Songs page. You-Tubing my music files is “hard work,” which is why they aren’t all up yet…