Today we moved on from Astorga. We began the climb that will take us to the highest point on the Camino. Leon was beautiful, and the gothic Cathedral there was indeed inspiring. The Cathedral in Burgos was a hodgepodge of styles and chapels with no unifying theme. This one was light and airy with amazing stained glass windows and a complete sense of the builders desire to uplift the soul to heaven and to contemplate transcendence. It was amazing!
One of the things we have seen though is how few people today actually seem to do that in Spain. The only Mass is in a chapel with 30 other people at the most and that includes pilgrims. At Astorga we toured their Cathedral which was more Romanesque in structure, but with emotional centerpiece statues in each of the retablos behind the altars in the many chapels. The one of John the Baptist was particularly striking, which was appropriate since we went to the one Saturday evening Mass offered in that part of town for the Vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist at the Church next door. There were about 60 people for that Mass which featured a door alarm which whined through most of the readings and the homily! The celebrant actually had to ask the concelebrant to shut it down after the Prayers of the Faithful. I am struck by the fact that not only are their few people, but there are few liturgical ministers and no one that takes initiative (I was pretty tempted to start roaming around myself to figure out what the problem was.) It really made me appreciate that much more all that I see each week in our SJV community and especially the beautiful way the community came together to celebrate Fr. Jim’s life! As I walked out of Astorga we passed a rare modern Church this Sunday morning and it reminded me of our Church and made me feel emotional. This one was pretty from the outside, but all locked up and might not even be active today.
The other thing that happened in Leon is that I began to have some pain in my shin. It got worse on the day out and despite resting it all afternoon Friday was still very painful as we walked to Astorga on Saturday. Many people on the Camino that we have walked with have had struggles with foot problems or knee pain. We had been very lucky not to suffer from more than one day of intestinal distress. Today I shipped my backpack and shortened our destination to about 20 kilometers so I could try to heal my left shin. Jerry has been wonderful, supportive and patient. I am humbled, trying to be patient, to keep moving, and to trust God. We go over the high point tomorrow, and I feel better and ready. I also take all of you with me as I walk.
(Jerry’s note): We talk about our spiritual journeys when things come to mind, as they often do when we have so much time to think. That process is part of the Camino. My prayer has been less about what is important—as we all know we are to love God and our neighbor, to become another Christ on earth—but that I would be open to the Spirit and more courageous in living out my faith.