¡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!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Le Veurdre

Just before entering this village I left behind Bourgogne, and entered the Auvergne, a small sign I’m making progress out here. From St. Parize I found a direct route to the next village on the way, St-Pierre-le-Moutier, which saved me at least 4 kms of backtracking. I was able to plan on getting further down the road than I thought yesterday, so called a B+B
10 kms beyond St-Pierre, in Le Veurdre.
On the way I stopped to see the church in St-Pierre, another XIIth C. beauty. I especially was happy to find a very old statue of St Jacques looking down on me from a niche on the outside corner of the church. What a lovable old fellow! His hat with shell, his staff topped with a gourd, but most of all, his kindly old eyes sizing up this latest of pilgrims to wander past his feet. How many centuries has he been doing this and how many of us, over these centuries, have whispered the same little prayer I did (or the medieval equivalent): “Big Jim, walk with me. Get me there. Thanks”.
I was just delighted to be welcomed warmly to this B+B, like an honoured guest, not another customer. The little house I’m in is like my own little home. This is not just a B+B, this is a place my hosts have prepared, at some expense, just to receive pilgrims! The Foucauds have walked part of the Chemin themselves, and are enthousiasts of St. Jacques; this is their expression of that enthusiasm. After settling in this afternoon I called the only lodging in the next destination village, Valigny. No room available tomorrow (Saturday), and nothing else nearby. Sunday is fine, so I’ll take tomorrow off and enjoy this place for another day before continuing. I’ve walked about 120 kms. with Gregory the Great on my back in the last week; I guess my legs deserve a “repose”.
Sunday will see me back on the road, a happy pilgrim again…