¡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!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

28 Years and Counting

Waterloo (still!). Yesterday, the 25th of August, marked the completion of 28 years of life as a priest for me. My sense of calendar time has become so amorphous this summer that, though I knew it was Saturday, I wasn't aware of the date until last evening when I turned on my mobile phone to check for messages. There it was on the opening screen where calendar items and appointments are listed: "Ordination Anniversary--Kevin." I am glad to have noticed before the day ended for I am grateful for this life and have never felt I could be anything other than what I was led to and what I have done my best to say yes to all these days and years since Saturday, August 25, 1979. I am happy to be a priest and could be no other. It is me. Even with my faults, failings and multiple sins along the way, priesthood has been and remains the real pilgrimage of my life. As I have walked my way through these years, every day has brought graces and blessings and "kingdom moments" in abundance, almost always "incarnated" in the extraordinarily ordinary people who I meet along the way. Every confessee, every counselee, every person I've given communion to, every person I've ever buried: what a treasure to meet them and walk with them for a brief moment or two in their own various pilgrimages. I regret not a wit the fundamental choice to be a priest, but only my failures in generosity, my laziness in prayer, my lack of wisdom in guiding others, and my many and varied sins along the way that have kept me from being more like Jesus. What more can I say: I am grateful!

So how's the leg, anyway? Obviously, I'm still here in Waterloo, beginning my fourth week of "hiatus" from the geographical pilgrim route (the interior pilgrimage, of course, continues!). There are some signs this weekend that it may be getting better; the crepitation (that is, the gritty, grindy feeling when the tendon is extended and relaxed), is negligible this morning though some ache remains. This gives me some hope that it may finally be healing itself, but after so many minor improvements followed by relapses, I am not yet ready to declare myself free to go on. I've given myself to the end of this week to make a decision about calling the rest of the pilgrimage off. If I choose not to go on, I shall go to Spain and as quickly as possible get set up in a pilgrim refuge or parish along the pilgrimage route and use the remainder of my time to care for others among St. James' beloved pilgrims. That would hold stories and adventures worthy of telling too, I'm sure. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I read. I finished on Friday a little novel called Vernon God Little, which won the Booker prize in 2003. I enjoyed coming to know the central character, a sort of Bart Simpson on steroids, but found the line of the story by the end neither very believable nor, alternatively, very insightful as a presumed satire of American society and our way of pursuing justice. Now I am half-way through American Gospel, a brief history of the relationship between religion and state in the United States. Next on the reading list? Fr Vince is encouraging me to dive into the final volume of the Harry Potter series. Maybe, if things go well, I'll be back in my own special pilgrim world of adventures and mysteries somewhere south of Tonnerre before I get to it!