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Learning to Walk, Days 1 and 2, August 28-29 2022

August 28, 2022

Knowing your limits is very important in learning to walk (learning, to live, too). I realized yesterday that I could not continue to carry my pack. I made it, but I think it was the most physically taxing day of my life!

But back to the beginning of yesterday—which feels like a very long time ago now! I made it to the 7 am Pilgrim’s mass at the Cathedral at 7:15. Which is okay, because it’s all in French so I have to just do my own praying and meditating anyway—until something comes along that I recognize, like the Apostles’ Creed or the Sanctus or the Lord’s Prayer, then I join in in English. I always struggle with whether or not to go up for communion when I am in an RC church. I know I’m not supposed to. I know I’m not welcome to partake in the RC church. The theology is very different, but I really struggle with this. Sometimes I end up taking communion to make a statement—even if I’m the only that knows I’m making it. And that’s not really a good reason to take communion. I always find myself saying, “but this is for me, too. It’s for all of us.” I usually take communion when I am with our Italian family in Italy, because Elena makes a point of saying, “you can go, too, Beverly.” And if it feels like a fairly open service and open-minded priest, I will go up. But yesterday was not the case. They made a point of inviting ONLY those who are Roman Catholic and go to mass weekly. Anyone else could come up for a blessing if they wanted to. Nope. If I’m not welcome at your table, I don’t really want your blessing. Ouch. That was harsh, but that’s what came to my mind. When we do the invitation in the Presbyterian Church, we often say, “this is not our table, but Christ’s table and all are welcome.” Well, yesterday, they made it very clear that though they may think it is Christ’s table, it is really their table because not everyone is welcome. Enough of that. After the service I went to get my compostella (stamp) from a lovely sister, who sounded Irish. She had been in West or East Orange with her order before coming to Le Puy to serve there just a very short while ago. As far as I’m concerned if there’s anything that can pull the RC church into a more liberated, inclusive, accepting era it will be the sisters.

Speaking of which, here is a funny story from today (a slight diversion from yesterday). There have been blackberry bushes along the way, which provide for a delightful snack. As I had stopped to pick a few this morning, there was another walker doing the same. We said hello, and he asked me, “are you a sister?” Meaning , a nun. “No” I replied. “Oh, people are saying you are a sister walking the Camino because you wear this,” pointing to my long Macabi hiking skirt. “And because you stopped at the cross and crossed yourself.” Did I? Perhaps. I have been stopping at a lot of the crosses that mark the way, and once in a blue moon that seems like the appropriate thing to do. I guess my long skirt and my long-sleeved sun protection makes me look like a nun. I am definitely not winning ANY style points. But Macabi skirts are so comfortable to walk/hike in, and they are full of the most useful pockets. We continued talking and I told him I was not Catholic but Protestant and a Presbyterian Minister. I hadn’t planned on announcing that, but it came into the conversation naturally. He said “I am Protestant, too, but not Presbyterian. You are Calvinist right?” I said, “of a sort. That was certainly our roots.” As we parted ways he said, “you may not be a sister, but you are my sister,” which was very sweet. In the reading I have done, it is clear that there is an active news network/grapevine among pilgrims. I have named it Chemin News Network (CNN), and in Spain it will become Camino News Network. I think it’s funny that after just one day of walking, the word was spreading that I was a sister walking the Camino.

Back to yesterday and learning my limits. I realized that in order to continue I was going to have to send my pack ahead with the transport company. Anne, the wonderful host at last night’s gite helped me make arrangements for my pack to be transported for the next five days. I’ll decide if I want to try again at that point. I am SO glad I did that. It made all the difference in the world just to be walking with my day pack today. Leaving Le Puy yesterday was a long, uphill slog. There were a few sections of lovely shaded forest paths, but for the most part there was no shade at all and the sun was HOT. But I made it. Almost collapsed upon arrival but a shower revived me some, did my laundry had an amazing dinner: another incredible salad that could have been a meal in itself, but was followed by sausage and lentils, a rice pilaf with lots of veggies, and an assortment of homemade cakes and tarts, and home made bread. This area is famous for its lentils. When you buy French lentils, this is probably where they come from. They melt in your mouth. I slept very well last night.

Started walking about 8:15 this morning. It was a spectacularly beautiful, but grueling walk. I’m addition to it being very hot—upper 80s—there were three very steep descents, one was a narrow path full of rocks, and the last on dirt, which was even worse because it was so steep your feet kept sliding on the dirt. But I did it. I didn’t fall and my knees are okay. Thank God for hiking poles and physical therapy to strengthen my knees. It wasn’t elegant, but it was an accomplishment.

I am now enjoying a post-shower, post-laundry, pre-dinner beer and battling a thousand flies. At least they are not mosquitos.

I have not had any desire to “plug in” to my earphones to listen to music or a podcast or a book. Just walking, and staying on my feet on the hard parts, and enjoying the beauty when I stop to look around is enough. And walking all day is a great opportunity to pray for people who have asked for prayers.

As I was going to sleep last night I thought, ‘why am I doing this? Do I really want to walk all the way to Santiago de Compostela?” But when I woke up this morning, I was ready to go. It was so beautiful when I started out, and I was eager to walk Not sure what tomorrow brings—other than a very long uphill climb to get out of Monistrol d’Alliers. It was a long hike down, and what goes down must come up. But at least I’ll just be carrying my day pack. As of this morning the forecast was for two days of rain starting tomorrow. That will be another adventure if it comes true.

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  1. Loving reading these accounts. Not sure if my comments are showing but I’ll try anyway xxx

  2. Leah Berkowitz permalink

    Fascinating blog Really interesting Take it easy You don’t need to prove anything to anyone Sending you blessings and continued discoveries both natural and
    super- natural!
    Perry and Leah
    As our mother used to say “ Come back in one piece!”🙏🏻😁😁

  3. lol . . at the “Why am I doing this?” . .often sitting alone in front of a painting I’m doing of one moment’s time on the East River . .for hours..days.. on this one aspect…I ask that same question..What am I doing?….and then the answer I get is . .my God seems to want me to honor those moments..the way I can.. so OK.. it’s really on HIM !

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