Posts Tagged With: St. Jean Pied-de-Port

Post Camino thoughts: What a blessing!

Preaching on Pentecost 2013

Preaching on Pentecost 2013

Just over a year ago we celebrated the great feast of Pentecost at Trinity, Menlo Park.  After nearly seven years of serving in the parish, I was moving on, and I was moved by the experience of saying good-bye to a place and community that I loved.  At the same time, I was excited about going on vacation with my husband in France, and making our way to St. Jean Pied-de-Port, the jumping off point for my Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. It was a beautiful leave-taking.

In the Episcopal Church—and in other denominations, too, I’m sure— there’s a tradition of blessing members and clergy on their last Sunday at the parish.  As we were planning the Pentecost liturgy last spring, I found this Blessing of the Pilgrims online, and we personalized it for my last service:

Blessing of the Pilgrims

O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over your servant Beth, who for the love of your name, walks to Santiago de Compostela.

Be her companion on the walk,

Her guide at the crossroads,

Her breath in her weariness,

Her protection in danger,

Her shelter on the Camino,

Her shade in the heat,

Her light in the darkness,

Her consolation in her discouragements,

And her strength in her intentions.

So that with your guidance she may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road,

And, enriched with grace and virtue, return safely to her home, filled with joy.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Near the end of the liturgy, the dear people of Trinity encircled me, and the whole community was connected by the laying on of hands as I received the blessing.  My heart was full, and overflowing with love. The Holy Spirit was there with us.

Community Blessing on my last Sunday at Trinity

Community Blessing on my last Sunday at Trinity

Two weeks later I walked the Camino over the Pyrennes to Roncevalles, the first stop in Spain. I went to the Pilgrim’s Mass at the 13th Century Royal Collegiate Church that night with several hundred of my new best Pilgrim friends from around the world.

At the end of the Pilgrim’s Mass, the priest blessed the gathered Pilgrims in Spanish—with the same blessing we’d used at Trinity on my last Sunday!

Pilgrim's Mass at Roncevalles

Pilgrim’s Mass at Roncevalles

It was my first experience on the Camino of bawling my eyes out because something had touched me so deeply and so unexpectedly. I came to recognize these surprising experiences of joy as Holy Spirit moments. There were more to come.

It’s only in retrospect that I can now appreciate the power of that Blessing by the Trinity Community on Pentecost.

When I read the Blessing now, a year later, each phrase calls to mind a specific experience on the Camino where I felt God’s presence.

It marked a transition in my ministry, and the beginning of my Camino. In that moment, I received the grace and courage to become a Pilgrim, and to walk with a wholehearted sense of purpose: to learn to live into a new sense of joy, and a deeper faith.

What a blessing!

As we approach Pentecost 2014, I give thanks for my time at Trinity, for my colleagues there, and for all the people of the Trinity community. I give thanks for my year of discovery, on the Camino, and afterwards, and for a renewed sense of call.

I give thanks, too, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. She continues to blow through our lives with unexpected joys, filling us with her power. She leads us ever onwards, to new experiences, new connections, new life.

My Camino begins

My Camino begins

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Categories: Camino, Camino de Santiago, Pilgrim's Mass, Reflections, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day #1

Hale and I said our farewells at the Porte d’Espagne at the edge of the old town, and then I kept going up the hill, on the Camino. It was hard to leave him after such a good vacation together. He’s been so supportive of my desire to go on the Camino. My first stop was the auberge at Orisson, 8.4 kilometers up the mountain. The path was pleasantly uphill, through pastures. And silence. The only sound was the tapping of my hiking poles and the bells on the cattle down below. A farmer wearing a beret said “Madame” to my bonjour as I passed by. The road kept climbing and then got seriously steep. I met my first pilgrims as I stopped to rest: a young American guy from MA, a guy who works for Twitter in San Francisco (!) , a Dutch couple going to volunteer at the albergue in Roncevalles for two weeks, an Italian woman and an older Irish lady. Then it got seriously steep. I was very glad to have poles. There was no rush to get to Orisson because I had a reservation, so I enjoyed being in the moment and taking my time. When Orisson came into view it was like a mirage, it was so good to finally get there. I had the rest of the afternoon to read and visit with people on the deck, do our wash, and then we had a lovely communal meal with about 75 pilgrims. Wine, soup, meat, and French Basque cake for dessert. The owner of the Inn asked each of us to stand up and say where we were from. It’s a little challenging to return to the hostel life: bunk beds, no privacy, and the worst is the snoring. I looked out the window at 3 am and saw the most amazing stars.

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Categories: Camino de Santiago, June 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pilgrim

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I’ve been lightening my pack all day, ounce by ounce. Sorry this had been such a theme the last couple of days, but I’m the girl who drives around with a car as my closet. I slung on the pack and walked through St Jean this afternoon, and saw this fine pilgrim. The medieval pilgrims traveled with a staff, a cloak, and a gourd for water. No high-tech fibers for them! But they walked the same streets of St.Jean, and the Camino. Tomorrow morning I’m off to Orisson, my first stop.

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Categories: June 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

St. Jean Pied-de-Port

We are here! We drove the back roads from Lourdes, skirting the autoroute, passing through many small villages. Some were disintegrating, some were prosperous, and as we neared the Basque Country, the houses became newer and more affluent. We saw Jai Alai courts next to medieval churches. As we neared St Jean, I found myself both excited and anxious. Hale will be saying goodbye on Wednesday, and driving up to Bordeaux to catch his flight home. I’ll miss him.

This afternoon we saw many pilgrims getting ready; the Pilgrim
Office is a hopping place, staffed by volunteers. Tonight it’s still light at 10:30, and the forecast is for fair skies. I’m so
excited!!

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Categories: June 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

At least I know where I’m staying on Day 1

At least I know where I’m staying on Day 1

The first day of the Camino is one of the most challenging if you decide to start in St. Jean Pied-de-Port, in France, and end in Roncevalles, Spain.  This first leg is 25 kilometers.  Basically, you’re crossing the Pyrennes.  I am so looking forward to crossing into Spain on foot.  On my first day out I’ve decided to give myself a break, and do this leg in two days.   I’m planning on stopping for the night after 10 kilometers, at Refuge Orisson.

Categories: June 2013, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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