Sunday, 15 May 2011

Camino bore, day 16. Why?

May 15th, day 16: San Nicolas del Real Camino to Leon.
Mmm. Films about the camino. The new one gets a lukewarm write-up in the Church Times 13th May issue, with  another one being recommended, Laurence Boulting's Within the Way Without. These films seem to have something in common, which is that they bash on mainly about the various characters and their reasons for doing the camino. They all seem very modern and introspective people - they would, wouldn't they? All that searching for the gods-behind-the-God, oops, wrong way round, God-behind-the-gods! Having not been quite old enough at the time to be a child of the 60s, I'm a bit sceptical about western dabbling in eastern religions. I was not impressed by the fact that several pilgrims seemed to know an awful lot about this and that eastern-religion-inspired retreat in the Arizona desert or whatever, and yet would say stuff like 'Benedictines? I've never heard of them before'. Yin, yang and Yacobus, it seems to me; well OK, wharrever. As I say in  my journal, if the camino is about what one very available postcard described as 'The journey inwards', let's hope it's a day return; for me, anyway. David and I were doing the camino not looking for 'the key to life's meaning', but in order to get to Santiago and the hell with it, let it do whatever it does to us. Hence I'm now trying to read the Rule of Benedict, and my inner harrumpher is being challenged by it, and I ought to delete all of the above, but I just leave it here to show what a nasty person I am, and in need of reformation.

As David says, the Rule of Benedict says everything that a manual on management might say and think it has discovered something new; Benedict said it all  before, the humane things; pity parts of the church don't take it on board too instead of being stuck in the treat 'em mean 'n' keep 'em keen era that is so dated now.

Pic needed, something uplifting.... Leon Cathedral, our destination today. Lovely, glass very much a Chartres experience, and much less 'foreign' to us than Burgos. I'll tell you tomorrow just how Anglican an experience we had there too.

Leon cathedral

Oh no - another of those things!
Today we walked to Sahagun, then got a train to Leon; quite a few pilgrims did this. Two reasons - my tripe- foot needed a bit of a rest, and the ground traversed was lots of flat meseta, which is a killer, really does the head in, but next time I'll do this bit, and then I really can say I've made the journey inwards, and probably come out screaming.

As soon as we got off the train, Mark the Belgian latched onto us, just starting the camino from Leon. He was very matter-of-fact, had some family things to think about, and a week later told me that 'the camino is doing its work'. I liked that: the no-nonsense pragmatic approach. We had to speak quite slowly, clearly and deliberately to Mark, as English was his second (and very good) language; we were told off by some German pilgrim blokes at the next table for being too noisy; that was even before I started dancing on the table, which I've never felt more like doing than after they said THAT. (Gen 2-3 is so true!). Do we LOOK rowdy?? (Hell, they were probably only there because they'd read that book by the German comedian too! Life is strange!)
Mark & me

The albergue in Leon was run by a community of Benedictine nuns. We were shown into 'the marital quarters' to sleep; this meant that the person you got to sleep next to (of the hundred or so others in the room) was your spouse. My first sight was of a woman lying on her front and a man massaging her calf; it was a den of luxurious sensuality, hah! Mind you, the place did the best breakfast ever; unlimited good solid bread rather than the usual puffed up stuff, and as-much-as-you-can-eat butter & jam out of the jar. No wonder there were a lot of young people there stoking up. Many people begin the camino here, as did Mark, but we wanted to do 400+ miles rather than 200 (and crucially, had time to do it as we never would again), hence the Roncesvalles starting point.

Maybe those pilgrim statues I keep imitating make a serious point, that my reason for doing this camino caboodle was To Be A Pilgrim - whatever that means. I tried on a few for size on the way. For me, the camino is a beginning, bringing home to me very forcibly that ....erm..... not sure! That we are all pilgrims and have to make a daily journey along a path that is partly chosen for us and partly under our control, and have to make ourselves what we are (oooh, that sounds a bit post-modern!)? (Did I spend all that time and money just for THAT? Perhaps I ought to be looking for life's meaning.....)

What the....?! (Shop window for tourists)
I think we need a bit of a breather from this heavy stuff.... let's find a pic to end with... oh, and by the way, I'm away for a few days from tomorrow; there might not be any pics, which is a pity 'cos there are some good ones coming up... I might have to add them when I get back a week on Monday. We'll see.

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