Thursday, November 7, 2013

Servant Song

Somewhere along The Way we were introduced to a very pretty song that seemed to fit our journey.  We found that people from all backgrounds and countries and religions around the world seemed to have open, generous hearts while on the Camino.  They had a "what's mine is yours" attitude when a complete stranger had a need...for a bandage, a sleeping aid, or some duct tape. It seemed that everyone (well, almost everyone) wanted others to succeed.  We had a kinship, a brotherhood, a like minded spirit.  It was an amazing thing to experience all along The Way.

 Servant Song was written back in the 1970s by Richard Gaillard from New Zealand.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear

I will weep when you are seeking
When you laugh, I'll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we've seen this journey through

When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we've known together
Of Christ's love and agony

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Shells and Arrows

Shells and yellow arrows typically guide you along the El Camino.  You will see them on wooden and granite signposts, embedded in the sidewalk, painted on houses, stores, and churches...  Many larger towns have designed their own unique shells.  Some individuals have them on their home or their wall/fence around their home if they live on the Camino.  

Pilgrims are always watching for a sign that they are on the right path.  Especially walking through large cities, we never wanted to go more than a block without seeing a marker.  It actually consumed a lot of time and energy.

There was one group of men we met up with several times who walked miles and miles out of their way one day because they got on the wrong path.  You always wanted to see the signs for yourself - you didn't quite believe the groups ahead of you, especially in the dark.  People were quite attentive and always called out to us if they felt we had made a wrong choice.  Fortunately we never made any sizable poor choices, and never had to backtrack.

When I Googled "Why is the scalloped shell the symbol of the El Camino?", 603,000 answers popped up.  So, there are many stories, myths, and traditions dating back 2,000 years.  You will have to research it and decide for yourself.

Many Pilgrims buy a shell early on their journey and tie it to their backpack.  Here's mine...a very fun souvenir!  It went with me most of the way....

Crosses along The Way

Amazing how many crosses there are along The Way.  And no objections to them! Unfortunately we did not see one Protestant church the entire way.  I know they are out there - we spent a morning with the head of the Evangelical Free Church in Spain.  But they are few and far between.  

According to a February 2013 study by the Spanish Center of Sociological Research about 70.5% of Spainiards self-identify as Catholics.  However, most Spainiards (especially the younger) choose to ignor the Catholic teachings in morals, politics or sexuality, and do not attend Mass regularly.

It was interesting to note that most crosses are not crucifixes...most are simple and plain.

The Lord is My Shepherd

I felt these pictures needed their own space....they are two of my favorites from the trip.  It was stunning to hear the bells tinkling and then suddenly the shepherd appeared over the rise with the sheep following close behind - coming right towards us. 

Couldn't help but immediately thinking of Psalm 23.  The Lord is My Shepherd indeed.

The Wonderful Faces of Spain

We found the people of Spain to be warm and generous towards Pilgrims...always ready with a smile, helping to keep us on the right path, letting us use restrooms in cafes, willing to communicate even when we did not speak Spanish....  It is really quite amazing that they do not get weary of the hundreds of Pilgrims making their way through their little villages every day.

For a few days we actually thought the two men on bikes were angels.  They passed by us (coming towards us every time) four or five days in a row, calling out encouragement with big smiles and waves.

You can see that the older people are still active and work hard on their farms, in their gardens, and cutting firewood.  The farmer with the cow LOOKED like he was letting the cow pull him up the hill.  Maybe the cow was just frisky and got out of hand...we will never know.

The children were a bit shy but always eager when I asked if I could take their picture.  Two of them went running off afterwards - seemingly to share the excitement of having someone take their picture.