Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Camino 2017-09-25 & 26 - And On the Seventh Day He Rested

I took the train from Coimbra to Espinho, a suburb south of Porto. The walk from Espinho was uneventful. I had to first connect back to the Camino and that was to take a narrow rural highway road to the pueblo of Grijo. There weren't many good options and everything required cash.

If you know me well, you know I don't like cash. I've used electronic payments as a preference since freshman year in college 34 years ago. So I don't bring much with me and hope I can charge it all. Unfortunately I didn't expect so many eateries bring cash only. So I just ate my snacks and trudged on. I saw chestnuts on the ground but figured as snacks they'd be tastier cooked.

The cars on narrow roads are scary. Fortunately there aren't too many ways to get lost until you get to villages. I got lost twice but guessed correctly where to reconnect. Thank goodness for GPS on phones. Signs started to differ because blue signs pointed back to Fatima where I came and forward to Santiago. I ran into three German women heading to Fatima on one stretch of trail.

It occurred to me that I'll be gone a week by now. I've walked 105 miles, mostly on Camino but a good number on my rest days too. Seems like a lot in such a short time. Not a lot in terms of miles but in terms of life. Isn't that what our goals should be? Not how far we go but what we experience? And whether that experience brings us closer to God?

I enjoyed the quiet time alone, pondered my prayers, thought about my time in Fatima and soon found myself in bustling Porto. I toured the cathedral, and some Spaniards struck up a conversation with me in my halting Spanish regarding my Camino. 

They seemed as impressed with the Camino as they were the silver home of the holy sacraments on the cathedral. This unsettled me. I'm not trying to impress anyone with the Camino per se. I might take some pride at my ability to walk long distances but the reason I walk isn't for my ego. I feel God's presence on these pilgrimages very acutely and , well, that's intoxicating.

I found my apartment and was floored. I thought I was renting a room in a place but ended up getting a whole apartment. And it was a block from the exciting river walk area. And the dining room and kitchen had food and snacks. What a deal! Best of all? A combo washer and dryer.

I tested and explored the city, enjoying the sights and sounds, the food and the delicious port wine. And on the next day, I rested. 

Unlike Fatima where I was deep in prayer or in Lisbon where I toured Sintra to start my walking patterns, I slept in and didn't have an itinerary. I just rested.

It gave my a chance to think about this beautiful city and how it made its money harvesting the gold and labor of Brazil and other colonies. Explorer Henry the Navigator was born here and his statue is across the street from my apartment. It made me wonder about the tension between beauty and the means by which that beauty was acquired. Those means weren't civil, but were brutal and demeaning. 

So with every grand church filled with gold and silver, with every towering spire, with every joyful breathe of a bustling maritime society, I thought of the hard work of the laborers who died to meet the needs of their colonial powers.

And I wondered if they got to rest every seventh day.

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