Friday, 3 June 2011

Camino bore: Swimming against the tide.

 St Jean Pied de Port
Wed 2nd June: Espinal to Cherves Chatelars. (That's in France). Oh dearrrrr! We had to cross the border from Spain into France soon after leaving our campsite at Espinal near Roncesvalles. Hopped over a Pyrennee or two and stopped in St Jean Pied de Port, where we would like to have started (a good day's walk to Roncesvalles) but couldn't, as we were in our car and needed somewhere good to park it, and Roncesvalles was the better choice. But I'd like to start in St Jean next time. Charming little place. They really do care about their pilgrims, some of whom obviously turn up having read about the wonderful fuentes along the way where water comes out on tap free to pilgrims, but without common sense, as you can see from the warning notice on the pic here.
 In case of gullible pilgrims....

Oh to be back in Spain, filling our water bottles from one of them.... some were just a simple tap in a village square, others were highly decorated like this one somewhere between Sarria and Portomarin on 25th May, almost at the end. But we passed them every day, and wonderful they were.

 Trying to get to church on time for Ascension Day.
Back in 2011, Ascension Day, and one of two days on the lake windsurfing, practising the equivalent of the motorist's 3-point turn. The great thing about any kind of sailing is that you get to understand that when it says in the NT 'The wind and waves obeyed him', that it is a double miracle; sometimes one obeys and the other doesn't. Today the wind didn't obey and didn't really turn up in quantity. And somehow at the end of the day it sort of turned up, but going the wrong way when I'd committed myself to be downwind, and I just couldn't get back to shore as there seemed to be a current flowing against me. Thus self-rescue was the only things to do (= lie down and paddle); and this was slow progress with arms already having done their bit for the dayI thought I was doing really well, I seemed to be zooming along, but then in a moment of enlightenment I noticed it wasn't me zooming ahead at all, rather the current against which I was swimming was going fast in the opposite direction, and I was going rather more slowly than a couple of people strolling along the bank, and I didn't get to shore until they came back (perhaps from Barrow Haven)! Not really moving at all! And yet such an illusion of progress! So I had to measure progress against bushes, and redouble effort to avoid going backwards as part of a body of water going where I didn't want to go (the waves weren't obeying me either).  This meant jumping in and swimming and using the legs, which had a little bit more oomph left in them than the arms. It was much like running up a down escalator, but took me much longer.

This seemed to be really good metaphor material, but I couldn't quite think what for.  I think it said something about self-knowledge and choosing the correct standard against which to measure progress. A very stern preacher could point to the necessity of measuring oneself against eternal values and not against the spirit of the age. I'm quite surprised Jesus didn't make more of such happenings, given he made those little boat trips now and again. The parables that come to mind seem to be about housework quite a lot, mending, searching for things etc. What made him choose one subject-matter over another? Did he just go to sleep when the going got rough in a boat? I'm intrigued. I must read the New Testament sometime......

but today I also thought how hard it is to go home against the tide of pilgrims going the other way.

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