Monthly Archives: July 2013

Signage on the Camino and in Life

yellow arrow, Najera

yellow arrow, Najera

The Camino is very well-marked. Much of it, in fact, is an exclusive use path through the countryside, and all along the entirety of Camino, yellow arrows and the familiar blue and yellow shell signs point Pilgrims ever forward towards Santiago.

But sometimes the Way plays Peekaboo with its Peregrinos.

Descending through the forest to Roncevalles early on, the path dwindles into a muddy clearing. Passing through the city of Logrono, the Camino appears to stop at a busy roundabout. Sometimes even out in the open countryside when the Camino is an actual path, a fork appears that looks just like the path you’re on.

Camino shell in pavement, Burgos

Camino shell in pavement, Burgos

"fork" in the Camino

“fork” in the Camino

“Where is the Camino? Or better, in Spanish:

“Donde esta el Camino?”

That question made me stop, and look with fresh eyes at the scene around me, and comb the environment for clues. Invariably, something would pop out of the landscape, like seeing Waldo in a “Where’s Waldo?” picture book.

There! I see a yellow arrow on a tree, or on a curb a block ahead. There! I see a bronze shell imbedded in the pavement. There! I see a blue and yellow Camino symbol up on the side of a building.

For a few days I took photos of yellow arrows, shells, and signage in general, which changed with each town and region. Some villages even painted a yellow stripe on the pavement through town to make it abundantly clear where the Camino was.

The Camino made me understand that I like knowing where I’m going. I already knew this, but the Camino made me understand it in a kinesthetic way. (I also learned, late in life, that I’m more of a kinesthetic learner than I realized.)

The Camino also taught me some valuable skills about finding my way forward when life brings you to a crossroads, or when the path you’re on forks, becomes muddled, muddy, or leads you to what seems like a never-ending roundabout you can’t seem to exit.

roundabout in Logrono

roundabout in Logrono

Here’s what I learned:

Stop. Take a sip of water. Pray. Consult the literature. Talk to your fellow pilgrims. Look up. Scan the landscape for markers, arrows, street signs, graffiti or kairns of stones left by others. If necessary, remove your boots and socks, and sit down. Push away the desire to know right away. Pray. Have a snack. Ask the locals. Pray some more. Then look again. The Camino is there. Walk.

Bridal Shoot and yellow arrows

Camino arrows leading Pilgrims out of Leon from the Parador and Bridal photo shoot

Camino sign in Leon

Inconspicuous Camino sign in center of Leon

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Categories: Camino, Reflections, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Walking through a Painting

Back home in the Bay Area, bright orange California poppies make a brief appearance in the Spring. I expect poppies to be that distinctive color of our official state flower. In Spain, I was surprised to find poppies of a different color! The Camino led me through fields of green wheat lit with brilliant red poppies. I felt like I was walking through a painting. Where had I seen this before? In Monet, of course!

DSCN0060DSCN0085

DSCN0061Monet - Coquelicots - Poppies at Argenteuil - 1873

 

Categories: Camino, June 2013, Reflections | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

I am the Vine, you are the branches.

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I’ve seen grapevines all my life in Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma Counties.  But walking through the Wine Region of Rioja in Spain was a different experience.  We were not whizzing by in a car.  I could reach out and touch those vines, feel the texture of the leaves. I stepped on the same soil they were growing in.  It was much more real.

We often saw workers in the vineyards trimming and pruning the vines by hand.  It reminded me of this passage in John’s Gospel.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed[ by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  John 15: 1-6

Entering into the rhythm of the Camino, “abiding” in it,  brought me joy and meaning. As I walked, I felt an unspoken connection with other Pilgrims walking with me towards a common goal. I also walked in the joy of the present moment.  With each step, I felt very much like a branch connected to the Vine of life, being nourished and encouraged to grow spiritually and physically.

I walked by ancient grapevines, twisted and rough. Bright green, pliant vines were bursting out of their knarled fists of bark.

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One day we passed a pile of grapevines that had been pulled out, and stacked by the side of the Camino.  Their fruitful life had ended.  New grapevines were being planted in their place.  That, too, was a symbol of Resurrection, and gave me new insight into Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John.

Categories: Camino, Gospel of John, Reflections, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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