¡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!

Saturday, October 6, 2007


The optimistic reports about the weather passed on to me mid-week have been right only about one thing: it IS warm for October in France; the temperatures in the afternoons are getting into the mid-20s C. (upper 60s low 70s). The sunny skies just are not showing up, though. The village of Sorges at 8.00 this morning was enveloped in a dense cloud of drippy mists through which I then walked for the next 3 hours; it was so damp that water droplets were drizzling down the front of my glasses.
I walked for most of those early hours along a small highway, so for extra safety in the pea soup I put on my headlamp, a small, bright LED flashlight that straps to my forehead; no use getting whacked by a Renault.
The fog eventually lifted, though the skies remained low and grey. As I walked I passed a large goose ranch, hundreds of the birds out in a field, as a moving, cackling carpet of grey. I called out to them that they should try to break out, or they’d be seeing their livers being served up in little pieces of toast on Christmas tables all over France. They didn’t take my warning seriously, so I see nothing but foie gras in their future. Thiviers, by the way, is home to the Foie Gras Museum, and Sorges claims for itself the Truffle Museum, but can they compete with Leuven’s Museum of Witloof?
I would like to come back to this area of France, for this is Cro-magnon country, and nearby caves have ancient paintings deep within: running horses and handprints, much more interesting than truffles and foie gras.
Perigueux, where I ended today’s walk, is a fairly big city, and one of the more famous pilgrim stops from the Middle Ages. At the center of town is a massive Byzantine cathedral with a multiplicity of domes and great sweeping arches in all four directions. It is a magnificent thing, and the recent renovations to the sanctuary are beautifully done. I felt at home there, and enjoyed just sitting in its dark coolness for awhile, taking a deep breath or two after a long day on the Way.
These churches in these pilgrim towns are the real links in the pilgrim chain; the walking takes us from one to the next, with the expectation that in these great places of prayer, one after another after another, we seek and find the true Way. It’s a cumulative effect; they slowly open up more and more of the mysteries of life and God to us, the more that we walk into them and breathe in their strange air. The walking too, with all that it holds, day in and day out, does plenty of revealing and unfolding, but it’s in the churches that the truths are made explicit for the pilgrim, at least for pilgrims who are looking for truth and what is real in themselves and the universe. So I think, anyway.