¡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, September 25, 2007

Benevent-l'Abbaye, Creuse, Limousin

It was a very late start on my pilgrim way this morning; before heading out on the road I had to wait for the local sport shop to open at 9:30 so I could buy a new set of walking poles, one of my old faithfuls having lost its head some days back. With my new poles (not as nice as the old ones) in hand, off I went at 10:00 am. I didn’t like the feeling of being such a late starter but it did remind me that perhaps I should be a little more relaxed about my self-imposed “program” and go more with the flow. It also got me moving AFTER the morning downpour an hour earlier!

Heavy, dark clouds hung around all morning, ever threatening another deluge, but I actually got through the day quite dry, save for a few drops just as I arrived here in Bénévent. The earlier rain made all of creation simply brilliant in clarity and color: the various greens and browns of the fields, the blue of the sky (when visible between the clouds) and even the dark gray and brilliant white (“whiter than any fuller could make them”) of those same grand clouds were rich and gave me reason to be grateful I was walking this day, late start and all.

My fellow pilgrims from last night, Pierre and Thibault got almost just as late a start as I had; we kept meeting along the way through the morning and shared our humble lunches together on a stone bench in the churchyard of the Chamborand (my lunch consisted of a tin of tuna and some almonds; theirs was day-old bread sausage…all delicious!) I didn’t see them after that; I supposed they dawdled their way to Bénévent a bit more than I and are probably staying in the town refuge. I’m enjoying another B&B that also takes in pilgrims run by an English couple; though I’m paying pilgrim rates they are treating me to full B&B attention, even doing my laundry for just a couple more euros!

The weather is decidedly more cool; though it didn’t rain on me today the gray clouds brought with them the winds with a cold edge to them, harbinger of a deeper autumn on the way. I’ve noticed in recent days that the color of the cattle has changed; through Bourgogne they were all white, while down her they are all brown. It is a small sign that I am moving along: regions, geography, even stock is changing as I head south across France. I got my first blister today; it’s a small one on my second toe. I sewed it up with need and thread so hope it will be fine on the morrow.