Camino Day 8, Santo Domingo de la Calzado

Today is day 8 of the Camino to Santiago. I would like to commend to you this prayer to Saint James:

O glorious Apostle, St. James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane; thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory: obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life, that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus, we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor’s crown in heaven. Amen.

Also as I begin this second week of Camino I invite you to join me in the novena prayer to Saint James.

Day 8. September 2, 2014. Another early start and another sunrise over the Rioja region. Today was only a 13 mile walk so I felt today would be a good day to start walking again, without backpack, and in Father Tom’s running shoes, some three sizes too big, to accommodate my bandaged feet. It shows the change happening to us when we write ONLY a 13 mile walk. I wonder how long that will last when we return home. I pulled through surprisingly well and we arrived before the greatest heat of the day.

I walked in solitude for part of the day thinking God would provide an Emmaus moment. Towards the end of the day walk I struck up a conversation with a German pilgrim from Munich. We immediately felt a kindred spirit in that we talked about travels in the Middle East. It was a delightful conversation and so after a day of solitude in prayer I was anticipating that Emmaus moment when I would encounter Christ in a stranger. We began sharing our love for God and his mercy Then the pilgrim said he had visited Mecca and of course I assumed he was a Christian so I said how did you manage that to which he responded: I am a Muslim. I was stunned. The Lord provided me with a spiritual companion after a day of prayerful solitude but not what I had anticipated. The last companion I would have chosen but the Lord choose for me a Muslim with whom to share. Yet this was the blessing given me by Saint James. I am confident our paths will cross on this Camino. Towns are beginning to blend together. The Camino is basically walking in the countryside from village to village. The sun is intense so keeping a bottle of water is essential. We saw a crucero by the side of the road to which wrongdoers in the Middle Ages were tied until they reformed.

There are no shortage of images of Saint James who always seems a day in front of us and we count down the miles to Santiago. We are a third of the way there

We attended Mass at the Cistercian convent chapel and the sisters were chanting vespers. What a wonderful and unexpected blessing at the end of a day dedicated to prayer in solitude. Another wonderful and unexpected blessing from Saint James.

Tomorrow we will leave the Rioja region.