¡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 19, 2007

Not quite yet...

Waterloo. The cast on my left leg came off on Friday morning as expected. It was a simple and straightforward process: the young nurse wielded her buzz saw and sliced down one side and up the other, then pried the two halves open with an oversize pair of pliers, and, voila, the cast was in the trash can. I immediately stretched my foot forward and back, feeling with my fingertips for the "scratchy" feeling in the tendon that indicates inflammation and finding none. A bit of sensitivity at the top of the tendon remained but seemed very minimal. I slipped carefully off the gurney and took a few tentative steps, then put on my light boots and with Caroline Foley at my side, hobbled out of the hospital. It seemed so strange that it was as difficult to walk without the cast as it was when it first went on two weeks ago. The body takes time to adapt...and then "unadapt" to these encumbrances.

Caroline, Gene, Fr. Vince and I went to lunch in town, then I did a bit of shopping for pilgrimage extras at the local sporting goods shop: a couple pairs of socks that I've come to like better than the others (Bridgedale: you make great trekking socks!), some boot wax and a small bottle of mosquito repellent. My ambling slowly about Leuven seemed fine enough, though it took a while for a more natural gate to begin returning. I was grateful and hopeful for a Monday return to Tonnerre, France and the continuation of my pilgrimage southwards.

Saturday was a different story. I decided to take my new tendon out for a "test drive" so put on my boots at midday and headed down the main shopping street of Waterloo, the Chaussee de Bruxelles. I walked easily and lightly, being extra careful of potholes in the sidewalk and stepping up and down over curbs. I walked for an hour before deciding to turn back and did so with no problem whatsoever. I was thrilled. Shortly after turning back up the Chaussee, I noticed a bit of sensitivity in my lower left leg again, but not bad. I was back in the rectory in less than 35 minutes, and as a precaution, iced the tendon before taking a shower and getting ready for the 5:00 pm Mass, which I had offered to take for Vince, who was busy with two weddings in the afternoon. While at church, I noticed more ache. I reached down under my alb to feel the tendon; with great disappointment, I realized that the grating feeling in the tendon was back in full, which means the inflammation is back. By late evening, it was aching as it did even before the cast went on two weeks ago. Today, it is slightly better, but a long way from good enough for walking 20 kilometers every day.

So there will be no return to Tonnerre on Monday and probably not for the rest of this week at least. I am taking an oral anti-inflammatory, continuing with icing it and lightly stretching it, and hoping and praying that it will heal soon, but the clock is ticking and the days available for me to walk are only decreasing as I wait. I have in my mind a not-so-firm "deadline" for continuation of the pilgrimage: the end of this month of August. If it is not ready to go by then, well...

My disappointment is real enough, but it is bounded by my new-found sense of "living in the present," not fretting about what I can't control, as well as by the on-going encouragement of my friends, particularly Gene and Caroline Foley. "Don't give up yet!" they tell me. "You still have plenty of time to accomplish MOST of your mission, if not all of it!" They are absolutely right and I am so appreciative of their cheering me on.

So, Santiago, Jacques, Big Jim: if you want me to keep on walking your way, fix this thing! If not, I'll find other ways to stay connected to you and your Way during these precious months with nothing else to do but be a pilgrim...or help your pilgrims.