¡Buen Camino!

Dear Friends,
It has taken three tries and nine years, but as of July 2012, I have finally walked the entire Way of Compostela from my former home in Leuven/Louvain, Belgium, to Santiago de Composela!
My first pilgrimage experience from the French frontier with Spain to Santiago itself took place in 2003. You can read the details of this first walk along the famous Camino across Spain in my book, To The Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (2008). (You can order it from the publisher, from Amazon.com, or from your local bookseller).
In the summer and early fall of 2007, I walked from Belgium most of the way across France, with the hope of at least making it to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port near the Spanish border, where I began the first pilgrimage. I didn't quite make it. A bad case of plantar fasciitis took me down in the Bordeaux village of Sainte-Ferme. I continued on to Santiago by train and bus, but the "defeat of my feet" and those last 175 miles or so that were left undone, gnawed at me over the ensuing five years. Happily, I was finally able to wrap up this grand pilgrimage with a third walk from Sainte-Ferme to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port this past summer (2012). It was a joy to have completed all 2,370 kilometers between Leuven and Santiago.
My adventures and misadventures, my thoughts and prayers of both the 2007 and 2012 pilgrimages have been shared in this blog. I will leave the blog and its archives open for some time to come; if you want to read bits and pieces of it, feel free, but remember that the beginning is at the bottom and the end is at the top.
My contact e-mail remains the same: kacodd@gmail.com; I am always happy to receive mail!
As the pilgrims in Spain greet one another, so I greet you, my reader: "Buen Camino!"
And as the people of France greet their pilgrims along the "Chemin", I also wish to you: "Courage!"

Grace and peace to you all!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reculer pour mieux sauter!

As the days leading up to my departure draw severely down, my nervousness about the whole enterprise rises. With just three days to go, I am so behind in my preparations, I haven't even come close to finishing the job of packing up my office and apartment and putting my mountain of "stuff" up in the attic, and I have another day of hosting over one hundred of the American College's alumni. But much more daunting for me is the sheer size of this proposed adventure and my presumption and hubris in thinking this is something I might actually do. It now seems impossible and a hundred tiny voices within me are saying, "You ARE nuts! Don't do it!" "Stop while you still can! There are a million things that could go wrong and probably will go wrong! Etc." "Shut up, already!" I answer back. I know I'm an idgit for thinking I could do this, but I have no other option now. I have nothing else to do and nowhere else to go for the next four months. And beyond the noise of these aggravating voices is the memory of those days when it seemed with clarity and attractive power to be the absolutely right thing to do. I treasure that memory of surety even as I shake with self-doubt. In the midst of morning Mass yesterday, I had a moment of renewed clarity; it came to me that all that i am responsible for now is to begin. Just begin. Let the rest rest. Yes. I'll just begin and go from there. I was consoled and brought back down to earth.

So on Sunday, I will begin.

Friday and Saturday, I must finish clearing eight years of life here out of the College and pack up Gregory the Great. Saturday afternoon, I'll go get my Leuven Pilgrim stamp for my Credencial at the Sint-Jacob Parish office. Sunday morning I'll pray Laudes here in our chapel with whomever wants to join me, then walk a kilometer to the Sint-Lambertus Chapel in Heverlee for Mass in this lovely 12th century church...then make my final farewells and be on my way.

Many of our American College alumni and friends are going to be pledging a certain amount of money, whatever they want, for each mile I walk. The funds collected will go the College to continue work on our beautiful old chapel or to support a scholarship endowment fund for our seminarians. If you'd like me to carry a special intention to Big Jim, I'm happy to do that for you too. Visit the American College website for more information: AC Pilgrim.