Posts Tagged Camino de Santiago

NEW! – The Race Before Us on YouTube

MY CAMINO – the Video (The Camino de Santiago)

[Editor’s Note: I have still not posted fully the entire trip from southern France to Santiago, Spain, but there is now a video slideshow of the trip.  The slideshow features just 15% of my 2,000 photographs taken over 30 days on the Camino de Santiago.  Accompanied by the music of Steven Curtis Chapman, James Taylor, Alison Krauss and Gordon Lightfoot, the photographs move chronologically until the trip along the Camino ends at the Cathedral de Santiago and at the “end of the earth” at Muxia and Finisterre.]

 

CLICK ON THE PHOTOGRAPH BELOW TO WATCH

MY CAMINO - THY CAMINO:  The Camino de Santiago and The Walk Before Us

MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO: The Camino de Santiago and The Walk Before Us

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MY CAMINO – Leon

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[My apologies if you received this already, but although it was posted, no regular recipient I spoke with had received it today.  So I am re-posting in hopes that the auto-emails will work this time.]

Not only is the 17 km walk (10 miles) into Leon considered the “one place on the Camino where you might want to take the bus,” but precipitation was in the forecast. So my goal was simply to get to Leon as quickly as possible to avoid rain. As billed, the walk was ugly and industrial, but for some reason I was among a fairly large contingent headed into the cathedral city. I finally met a couple from Brazil, who I had seen almost every day for the prior week (and I would see almost every day until Santiago – and we finished within a couple of hours of each other). I hopscotched with three from Ireland and saw my two French buddies a few times during the otherwise uninteresting walk to Leon. (The Frenchmen had spent the night with be in Hontanas and I had seen them the next evening in Fromista and two days later in Mansilla – its just the way of the Camino).

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Despite the forecast, by 9:30 it’s partly sunny. Trying to counteract the ugly walk along busy roads, I listened to a Tim Keller talk about the “fruit of the spirit” and a variety of tunes by Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, and Alison Krauss. Although the walk was billed as flat there was one really good hill climb after 11 kilometers. As blessed as I am, the sun came out as I made my way to the city center. Arriving right around noon, I marveled at the cathedral as I stood before it in its large, entrance square. Thinking that I needed a photograph of me before the grand church I spotted a young man who looked American to me and asked if he’d mind taking my photograph. With that request I was introduced to David – a medical student from Michigan. (I did not see David again in Leon, but little did I know then that David would play a prominent role in a number of my future days on the Camino.)

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I checked into Boccalino Hostel and cleaned up. I had a good half of a day to explore, which is just what I did. The city is believed to have been settled as early as 29 B.C. as part of the Romans efforts to protect the shipment of god out of Galicia to the west on its way to Italy. Leon has an interesting history of being run over and conquered and re-conquered by Muslims, Visagoths, Asturians and others. Just about the time that Santiago was being recognized as an important pilgrimage detention, Leon was rebuilt and became an important commercial center for the wool trade. That prosperity helped to fund the construction of a grand cathedral.

Leon Cathedral was begun in 1205 and finished in just under 100 years – apparently a record time. Guidebooks explain that its most noteworthy feature is its large stained glass windows, which emphasizes the use of light in the cathedral. One guidebook: “Without a flashy retablo, the cathedral lets the the streaming light steal the show.” There was an excellent audio self-tour that explained the history and architecture, including an extensive and risky, but ingenious renovation (that probably saved the cathedral from ruin) in the late 19th century. I also roamed the city and viewed its major historical and architectural highlights, including the 11th century Basilica de San Isidoro (“one of the premier Romanesque structures” in all of northern Spain, which was commissioned to house relics returned by Muslims after being defeated in the Reconquista), the more “modern” (19th century) Casa Los Botines, the Cathedral’s museum and Cloister, and the ancient city walls.

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Incredibly, as I cut through a square to return to my hotel I heard “Bruce! Bruce! off to my right. And in typical, but amazing Camino style, there was Frida, Lynn and Jen finishing a late lunch at an outdoor café. I sat with them and caught up on everyone’s journeys – and I heard “the rest of the story” about George’s boots. (I had not seen Frida or Jen since the rainy morning after Hontanas and I last saw Lynn early in the morning at Carrion as we both stood by the front door to the hostel that was locked and keeping us from starting our day’s walk.) Jen had just replicated one of the events in The Way – the movie about the Camino de Santiago starring Martin Sheen. Like Sheen’s character in the movie, after growing tired of hostel living, Jen treated the three of them to a night or two in the Parador – a five-star luxury hotel just outside the city center and on the route as the Camino starts to leave Leon. (I would pass right by it very early the next morning as I started my trek to the next destination. I assumed Frida, Jen, and Lynn were sleeping in, so I dared not stop.)

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MY CAMINO – Leon

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Not only is the 17 km walk (10 miles) into Leon considered the “one place on the Camino where you might want to take the bus,” but precipitation was in the forecast. So my goal was simply to get to Leon as quickly as possible to avoid rain. As billed, the walk was ugly and industrial, but for some reason I was among a fairly large contingent headed into the cathedral city. I finally met a couple from Brazil, who I had seen almost every day for the prior week (and I would see almost every day until Santiago – and we finished within a couple of hours of each other). I hopscotched with three from Ireland and saw my two French buddies a few times during the otherwise uninteresting walk to Leon. (The Frenchmen had spent the night with be in Hontanas and I had seen them the next evening in Fromista and two days later in Mansilla – its just the way of the Camino).

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Despite the forecast, by 9:30 it’s partly sunny. Trying to counteract the ugly walk along busy roads, I listened to a Tim Keller talk about the “fruit of the spirit” and a variety of tunes by Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, and Alison Krauss. Although the walk was billed as flat there was one really good hill climb after 11 kilometers. As blessed as I am, the sun came out as I made my way to the city center. Arriving right around noon, I marveled at the cathedral as I stood before it in its large, entrance square. Thinking that I needed a photograph of me before the grand church I spotted a young man who looked American to me and asked if he’d mind taking my photograph. With that request I was introduced to David – a medical student from Michigan. (I did not see David again in Leon, but little did I know then that David would play a prominent role in a number of my future days on the Camino.)

IMG_1811IMG_1818

I checked into Boccalino Hostel and cleaned up. I had a good half of a day to explore, which is just what I did. The city is believe to have been settled as early as 29 B.C. as part of the Romans efforts to protect the shipment of god out of Galicia to the west on its way to Italy. Leon has an interesting history of being run over and conquered and re-conquered by Muslims, Visagoths, Asturians and others. Just about the time that Santiago was being recognized as an important pilgrimage detention, Leon was rebuilt and became an important commercial center for the wool trade. That prosperity helped to fund the construction of a grand cathedral.

Leon Cathedral was begun in 1205 and finished in just under 100 years – apparently a record time. Guidebooks explain that its most noteworthy feature is its large stained glass windows, which emphasizes the use of light in the cathedral. One guidebook: “Without a flashy retablo, the cathedral lets the the streaming light steal the show.” There was an excellent audio self-tour that explained the history and architecture, including an extensive and risky, but ingenious renovation (that probably saved the cathedral from ruin) in the late 19th century. I also roamed the city and viewed its major historical and architectural highlights, including the 11th century Basilica de San Isidoro (“one of the premier Romanesque structures” in all of northern Spain, which was commissioned to house relics returned by Muslims after being defeated in the Reconquista), the more “modern” (19th century) Casa Los Botines, the Cathedral’s museum and Cloister, and the ancient city walls.

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Incredibly, as I cut through a square to return to my hotel I heard “Bruce! Bruce! off to my right. And in typical, but amazing Camino style, there was Frida, Lynn and Jen finishing a late lunch at an outdoor cafe. I sat with them and caught up on everyone’s journeys – and I heard “the rest of the story” about George’s boots. (I had not seen Frida or Jen since the rainy morning after Hontanas and I last saw Lynn early in the morning at Carrion as we both stood by the front door to the hostel that was locked and keeping us from starting our day’s walk.) Jen had just replicated one of the events in The Way – the movie about the Camino de Santiago starring Martin Sheen. Like Sheen’s character in the movie, after growing tired of hostel living, Jen treated the three of them to a night or two in the Parador – a five-star luxury hotel just outside the city center and on the route as the Camino starts to leave Leon. (I would pass right by it very early the next morning as I started my trek to the next destination. I assumed Frida, Jen, and Lynn were sleeping in, so I dared not stop.)

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My Camino – Thy Camino: The Rest of the Story

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MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO – The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

As I mentioned in my last post, I have failed to blog timely about my trip on the Camino de Santiago.  I finished the journey when I arrived in Santiago de Compostela after 29 days of walking and hiking.  I rested briefly in Santiago and then visited Muxia and the “end of the earth” at Finisterre.  I safely returned to Richmond and am back at work.

In my efforts to discuss the “people, places and things” on the Way (“My Camino” posts”) I only got to Day 12.  In my efforts to record my reflections along the Way about life past and life future and the “walk before us,” I also have a disappointing record.  My WordPress “dashboard” has a number of unfinished posts about My Camino and Thy Camino.  Thank you for your interest in this journey.  Even though I have returned, I will be finishing by posting many more blog posts about my time on the Camino.  They will continue to use the “My Camino” and the “Thy Camino” titles and themes.

The final day with less than a 10K to go

The final day with less than a 10K to go

The last few steps - through the portal and into the plaza at the Cathedral de Santiago

The last few steps – through the portal and into the plaza at the Cathedral de Santiago

Cathedral de Santiago

Cathedral de Santiago

The Cathedral and the "Pilgrim Mass"

The Cathedral and the “Pilgrim Mass”

A month earlier

A month earlier

Muxia

Muxia

The "End of the Earth"

The “End of the Earth”

Finisterre

Finisterre

 

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THY CAMINO: Gratitude II

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MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO
The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

I neglected to include one person to whom I very recently expressed my gratitude. It seems as though I was walking along the other day on the Camino (listening to my iPod) when I followed the path (which appeared very similar to the way marked trail) in a wrong direction, deep into some farmer’s fields of young growing wheat. After some 30 minutes or so I noticed a farmer on his tractor coming towards me. I waived a hello and moved out of the way. The tractor stopped. I glanced above. The farmer was gesturing that I had gotten off the Camino as he pointed to a point that was a considerable distance back. There was little for me to do but retrace my steps when the farmer tapped on the tractor and motioned for me to jump on. He took me all the way back to where the trail split. Thirty minutes later I came into Granon where my Italian friends were having lunch. They invited me to join them as they explained how they waved and yelled and whistled to me when they saw me going astray. But with earphones I heard nothing.

My tractor ride will forever be part of my Camino experience and I will forever be grateful to my Spanish farmer friend for giving me that ride.

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THY CAMINO: Gratitude & Contentment – Eric Liddell and Carmen on the Camino

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MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO
The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

This is the type of post under Thy Will I had intended to do sooner and more frequently. That said, better late than never. Hopefully, I will have time for more as planned.

Today, people walk the Camino for different reasons. This has been confirmed to me many times over as I have met pilgrims from Denmark, Australia, Poland, Ireland, Korea, Brazil and numerous other places. Interestingly, a fairly common reason (usually among other feasons) is to give thanks in some way for their lives, or as a Christian (and perhaps others) might say, for the blessings of their life.

This past week was “Staff Appreciation” week at our law firm, LeClairRyan. In a very real sense it was all about gratitude. In the same or similar vein as pilgrims along the Camino. For my purposes here, I note that the expressions of gratitude by a few of my partners were not some generalized statements of being thankful, but their sincere expressions were directed towards someone – here, the non-lawyers at the firm that help make us who we are and help us provide the kind of service critical to our mission and our success.

Coincidentally (for those who have read posts here before – I remind you of what C. S. Lewis said about coincidences), this very topic of being grateful came up as I walked many kilometers of the Meseta in northern Spain. As I left Burgos in the predawn light I ran junto Carmen, a 25year-old Spanish woman put on the Camino, as we tried to read the way markings out of the city. I walked a long day with Carmen and learned much about her and life in Spain. I was mostly taken and touched by her perspective – “I may have been unemployed for 3 years but I’m more blessed than most.” She continued, “I’m rich in so many things – I live in a wonderful community, I have a roof over my head and I have a wonderful family.” Even though Spain was continuing to suffer from a sagging economy and opportunities for her were few, she was content, happy, and comfortable that life would be fine.

I couldn’t help but recall a great scene from Chariots of Fire when Harold Abrahams looks at Eric Liddell and laments that – unlike Liddell – he had never been content. As he said, “when the gun goes off, I have 10 seconds to prove myself.” He lacked contentment because his hope, his sense of value was based upon his personal achievement.

For most then, it’s hard to have a sense of gratitude, if you are not content. You are always looking for something more. You are always wondering why some have more than you or some have achieved more – whether it be recognition or material success. My observations suggest that the inability to be content with whatever you have or with wherever you are is a function of where you place your hope – where you – like Harold Abrahams – place your sense of worth.

This then is prelude for my own thoughts about gratitude. Yes, I many “peregrines” I thought that time of the Camino would give me the generally uninterrupted time to consider seriously those things for which I have grateful – and make appropriate notation thereof.

When I think back on my first 55 years, I have an enormous list of people for whom I am grateful. Many would suggest that I have “succeeded” in life – however you may define that. I have had a successful professional career, I have achieved some things outside of the work environment, I have some great friends, and I have an extraordinary wife and children. So how do I assess that “success”? If I were to focus on MY WILL I’d say that I pulled myself by my own bootstraps. That I worked hard and that I created opportunities for myself and by the dint of my smarts and hard work I became a successful – all glory and honor to me.

But, I now know that that is not true. Rather, I am exceedingly aware of an extraordinary number of people that helped me become the “success” that I may have achieved. I touched on this in my book The Race Before Us, but allow me to expand. Whatever I have achieved, whatever people point to and suggest that I have “succeeded,” I now know was the work of many people, and inevitably the grace of a God. So, when I take the time to carefully think about how I have been so blessed beyond measure, I recognize that a great number of people did a great number of things to get me to where I am today. When I think back upon it I have to acknowledge that I am grateful for –

– my parents, who communicated and inculcated values
– my patents, who sacrificed so I could attend college
– Judge Shelley, who served as my first professional mentor, and encouraged others to take a chance on a brash northerner
– Butch and Burt, who thought I might be a reasonable associate
– Tom, who provided an extraordinary amount of wisdom in two years, lessons from which I have repeated for almost 30 years
– Tom and Slate, who thought I might be able to contribute to a new practice team at a marquis law firm
– Bonnie, who worked tirelessly for many years to see that my work product was complete and first rate
– Stan and Frank, who thought I might be able to stand on my own two feet and develop a practice
– Stan and Gary, who took in as a partner a cocky 35 year-old who thought he could conquer the world
– Bill, who advanced our practice and supported my ego, while showing me true intellect and true humility
– Vern for stepping up whenever I needed support
– Chris and Kirk and Bill and Mike and Brandy for handling matters better than I could
– Kim, who handled so many matters and otherwise covered for me
– Rob, who has consistently made me look better than I am
– Jeff, who asked me to be co-counsel, who always trusted me as co-counsel, and who supported me as a candidate for the most important professional role in my career
– Carl and Mike, who have been along side (with extraordinary patience) for most of the journey
– John, Wally, Giff, Ned, and Kevin, who have provided me with more fun and camaraderie for which anyone could ask

And I am grateful to those other friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who I have failed to mention.

And, of course, I am eternally grateful for an extraordinary wife, for whom I’m sure I could have been a better husband. Thankfully, With God’s grace, I will have many years to try to make that right.

So, when I think about THY WILL, I’d like to think that I have been blessed beyond measure, not because what I have done, but because what He has done. Like our law firm, we are not happy or thankful or grateful in a vacuum, we are grateful to people. Likewise, when I look back on 55 pretty good years, I’d like to think that I am grateful, but it too is not some generalized, unspecific sense – but a recognition that I have been blessed by God beyond measure by wonderful parents, an incredible family, generous colleagues and great friends. Why – I have no idea, but I still have a few weeks on the Camino. X

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Thy Camino: The Walk Before Us III

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MY CAMINO – THY CAMINO
The Walk Before Us – A Step at a Time on the Camino de Santiago 

This will be my last “introductory” or general post about “Thy Camino,” which I guess is good since I’m already over two weeks into the trip. Hopefully, there will be more specific and more frequent “Thy Camino” posts as well as the more “travelogue” – My Camino posts.

With Easter still a near memory, it is useful to look at the most important reference concerning our obligation to follow “Thy Will”. It was of course in the garden (on the eve of his crucifixion that Jesus said: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

The other important and obvious (so obvious I wonder how often I said it and did not take to heart what it really means) reference to “Thy Will” is in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus said: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be down.

If you are a Christian, every time you repeat the Lords Prayer you are acknowledging that your plans (“My Will”) are secondary. For me, one of the “epiphanies” for me in analyzing issues of faith was realizing how much MY PLANS and my objectives had overwhelmed or suppress what might be God’s Will – God’s plan for me.

As I’ve indicated before, once someone comes to faith, the task “set before them” is how to live more as a disciple – how is it that conform our lives, how is it that we have been changed? I have written earlier (during my time in Oxford) about how coming to faith really involves – not a “blind leap,” but the placing of trust in something (someone) you have acknowledged to be real and true. The premise of the blog then is that a Christian has already chosen between “My Will” and “Thy Will” when they believed in (“who shall ever believe”) accepted Jesus (when they “trusted”). It seems to me that by definition that if you have come to faith – come to trust – you have acknowledged that God’s will (“Thy Will”) is primary and paramount, but the task (“the race before us”) – the very hard job – for each of us is (1) to discern God’s will and (2) to follow Thy Will.

While perhaps I will spend some time on discernment, the major point here, the “final” introductory” point, is that we actively resist Thy Will – rather, we are so confident in our own abilities or we are so driven to our personal desires and objectives that we ignore or suppress Gods will. The process we need to go through – a major topic of my thoughts along the Camino – is how to more regularly and more automatically look for Thy Will and at the same time recognized that My Will may be focused on more personal or selfish agendas, if not the pursuit of other idols ( in my book The Race Before Us, one way to look at the three “Ps” was to see them as false idols.

Not to lose heart though – the process (a fancy word might be “sanctification”) takes time, which is why Paul used the race metaphor so much. He knew we would slip and fall (when “My Will” takes over) and that we would have to get up and “press on.” In fact, we are never likely to win the race, but we hope that when the race is over, we are greeted by “well done, good and faithful servant.”

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