Pamplona and “My Camino”

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🚶🏻 441.0 miles | 🗓  30 Stages | 🔸🔸🔸🔹 Medium Difficulty


Well, we’ve arrived in Pamplona, a city that buzzes with an ancient vibe to be sure – and with good reason. After a short holy hour at the Cathedral of St. Mary in the central square, I made my way down into what was probably once the crypt of the church. There were excavations going back very far to at least the turn of the first millennium. The church has been rebuilt several times, with the oldest ruins dating back from before the 920s when it was demolished upon the invasion of the Caliph of Córdoba. It’s a beautiful city, ironically with a most curious restaurant that greeted us not 5 minutes away from the train station:

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I resisted the urge to give Louisiana Cerveceria a sampling, for there’s no time to dawdle on the place I call home, the Camino beckons. (Oh yeah! For you at home and beyond: I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but feel free to send any prayers you’ve got to me, by the way. I’ll copy and paste them into my little note for all of you.)

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After getting my first sello, the official stamp on the pilgrim passport, Fr. Ryan and I made our way to our bunks, but not before meeting with some long, European-style, exaggerated stares.  Immediately, I felt like I was back in middle school and volleyball teams were being chosen in Phys. Ed. There’s a silent, marked sizing-up that was taking place, for I have upset the balance, however brief, of the family that has been walking together probably since Sant-Jean-pied-de-port in France.  It reminded me how much I hate both being picked last for volleyball (I’m still as uncoordinated with a volleyball as I ever was) and how much I hate having to play the “new guy”.

In primary school, it’s a given. In seminary college there’s usually at least the benefit of being as new as the other guys in your class. In parish life, there’s the generally long adjustment period of a new priest to his people. It takes time, I get it. But, that first foray into what is essentially an already existing “class” I must admit I found exceedingly uncomfortable.  Even this extrovert finds himself a “new guy” once more, with new relationships to forge and new experiences to have. It brings St. Benedict’s adage to my mind when speaking of the liturgical year and also daily human life: “Always, we begin again”. As ever I was, I am beginning again!

There is a concept that is well known among pilgrims known as “my Camino,” which means that The Lord has a specific route for each soul to follow, even if everybody is going in the same direction towards Santiago. Already, there are vestiges of God beginning to carve out this “Camino of the Heart”.

That’s what I brought to the tabernacle today, on this feast of my little spiritual sister Saint Claire, whose tomb I’ll visit in about a month’s time. I pray that I can be little. I pray that I can magnify in simple ways His Heart that has been so present to me. I pray that I can have the courage (and the daily energy needed!) to see the journey through to the end.

I had to chuckle at the antiphon for The Canticle of Mary this evening as I prayed Vespers in that grand cathedral:

“Lord, bid me walk across the waters. Jesus reached out to take hold of Peter, and said: O man of little faith, why did you falter?”  (Matthew 14:31)

As often Jesus does when I ask a direct question of Him “What is it you ask of me, Lord?”, He responded today with only one imperative word: “Walk.”

I guess I’ll walk then!