Pilgrimage Report on June 20


We are almost exactly in the middle of our pilgrimage – one week ago today, I was on a long flight – in one week from today, I’ll be on a long flight. A lot has transpired over a week. Not least of which is a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of our Cathedral members better. Ours is a precious congregation, and I cherish these chances.

We have also had many joyous meals together with other pilgrims from all over the world. I have long believed that breaking bread together is a sacred time, a moment when hospitality is expressed and we share in what it means to grow into the stature of Christ. If I am honest, however, my hospitality has been running a little thin this week.

It has been my experience, that while many are on the Camino for religious or spiritual reasons (and specifically Christian ones), many more are not. These folks are walking the Camino for a variety of (perfectly good) reasons that do not play into their faith or spiritual growth at all. This, of course, is fine for it is an opportunity to share our faith. Many give us quizzical looks when we group up for morning prayer or linger in churches to kneel and seek God. It is a blessed chance to offer living water to those whose thirst may not even be known to them.

My own hospitality has been tested when our fellow pilgrims express disdain for others because they haven’t walked as far (many begin in Southern France), because they ride bikes, or for any of number of other things. It made feel protective of our group, and it made me angry. It really tested me this morning, and I spent much of the day walking trying to get over it…to no avail.

At the end of a hard morning’s walk, we arrived at the albergue (pilgrim’s hostel) at which we planned to stay an hour after the close of breakfast and 5 hours before they opened for the day’s new visitors. The next albergue was at least 4Km away.

We saw a man closing down for the morning through the window, and I felt like I saw the struggle over whether to duck into a back room to hide in his eyes. But, the hesitation vanished into a smile that broke across his face, and he beckoned us to the front door with a wave. He spent some of the time he would’ve used for preparation for his day to make us sandwiches (we were starving!), get us a place to rest, laugh with (and at) me about my poor Spanish, and be an all around congenial guy.

In one moment, my joy for and in serving others was restored. Today, I met Christ in a man that did a bit of extra work on my behalf with a joyful attitude.

He even let me take a picture with him.