Arrival in Santiago and beyond
I am currently sitting in the airport. About to board a flight to Switzerland where I will switch planes and fly to Amsterdam. Tonight I will sleep well thanking God for indica. Tomorrow the Van Gough Museum, another good night of sleep. Friday the Rijksmuseum and then a flight to Scotland. I’m playing in two music Festivals there and two song writers nights. Also planning on praying at the Roslyn Chapel. All of this -God Willing.
Last Thursday we began walking in the darkness and of course it was raining. And the Spanish folks need rain. Their water table is at about the 50% mark which is really low. Pray that they have rain. We were two days out of Santiago. I don’t know the mileage but it was closer to 30 miles than I wanted it to be.
We chose the lesser traveled route. Thursday the only other walking Pilgrims that we saw were resting at a cafe where we stopped for a coffee. It was a long walk. The woods were peaceful and beautiful. The last couple of kilometers were up-hill. A huge dog -think Saint Bernard -came up to the fence barking at us and actually bit the fence. Glad he wasn’t wandering free.
The room that night was the worst ever. Due in part to a huge group of Americans that came in off a tour bus. They had gear like we did but it was new and clean. They were pilgrims. But they were obnoxious. Think partying way too late at night. I had to go outside and correct a situation happening right outside our window (I tried to ignore it but after an hour I decided to use some of those Army skills- I was more tactful than I would have been at the beginning of the Camino). When we left at 0500 I was super tempted to make enough noise to wake them all up. Give them a real “Alburgue” experience. But both Terry and I were gracious and stumbled quietly out into the darkness.
We hadn’t made it 1/4 way down the hill when a cab pulled up. The cabbie stopped the van, jumped out and opened a door for us. We laughed thanked him and trudged on into the darkness towards Santiago. Later in the day we witnessed “pilgrims” getting out of cabs and tour busses. I guess everyone has to live their own caminó.
I talked with a Monk along the way. He reminded me that I was clergy just like he was. It did something for me. He asked me to pray for his “intentions” when I arrived in Santiago. I have. And I have been praying for my own intentions ever since. Do I have the right intentions. Am I being critical of others, while having similar intentions? Do I really have intentions that are pure before Christ. May the Holy Ghost guide me.
We came over a hill and I saw some spires in the distance. We kept walking. Walking. “Walk this way, talk this way, just give me a Kiss” -lyrics from my childhood Aerosmith days. Walking a path that literally hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have walked. Daily life hundreds of thousands of believers walk the path of sanctification. The Kiss -“greet one another with a holy kiss Romana 16:16.” And of course Judas betrayed Jesus with a Kiss. I can’t wait to Kiss Kate.
Soon we were in town. I booked a room right along the Camino so we checked in dropped off our packs and headed to the Cathedral. We walked in a side door before we saw the front.
Inside it is Huge. It is mind numbing. The Art is Beautiful. It is over the top. It is glorious. I don’t know how it is justified when there are poor people but then again I don’t know how we justify war and a million other little things. All ya gotta do is travel a little to realize that we have a lot. In America even our poor are wealthy. And all of our stuff. And then somehow I shake those thoughts and focus on Christ.
The cathedral is built in the shape of a Cross. He is risen! God is the focal point of all the art. God is the focus of the cathedral. Forget about all the wrong stuff people do- focus on God. Forget about all the wrong stuff that you do -focus on God. Jeremiah 31:34 says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
So I sat. I prayed. I beheld and let my mind wander. I thought about how much God is the Creator. I’m creative but nothing compared to God. I live into my fullest potential when I am creating. From the mandate to be stewards of the earth to the Great Commission to Go and make disciples -we must be creative. When Christ said, “a new commandment I give you- love one another…” He did not say how to do it. We are all responsible to use creativity and love one another.
Friday night we went to the Pilgrims Mass. The message part was in English. This is what I remember: -Jesus is the Way. He has kept you. He has heard your prayers. He will continue to guide and be with you.- It blew my mind. I have prayed for many folks and situations on this journey 500 plus miles of walking and praying.
Walking and praying and then at the end of the Mass they filled up the botafumeiro and swung it and the incense like our prays went up. It was an awesome visual aid. I felt tears warm my eyes.
Take a moment and look at the map -look at the Camino del Norte route. All that distance. The pain. And just like that we were there. The journey resembles life. We start out. Ideas form. We make decisions. We collect stuff. And as the journey ensues we realize that we don’t need to be carrying so much weight, so much baggage. We attempt to streamline, to lighten the load. We lose weight. The burdens fall and in the end someone reminds you- It is Christ who is the WAY. He carried you. He walked with you. He is with you.
Then it was Saturday. I went to Mass again and experienced it all over again. Only thing different was that the Mass wasn’t in English this time.
After that a massage. The lady explained how messed up my legs and feet were. The massage was a mixed experience of pleasure and pain. So I decided to do it again on Sunday. The second massage she worked so hard on my legs that there were tears in my eyes. Several times she reminded me to breathe.
After that I met up with Terry and we went to the area in front of the Cathedral and I did a Vet Church service in the Facebook group. I decided to start doing something every Sunday with Vet Church again. God brought me to a great place to begin again.
Then we went back to our hotel, grabbed our bags and walked out of Santiago to our new hotel, closer to the airport. The next two days were relax days. My body is in rough shape, yet it is in the best place it has been in years.
How did I get so lazy? Too much. I’m a few meals ahead and a few workouts behind. I lost over 20 lbs on this journey. I have no intention of going back there. In fact, I am gonna say this. I was sitting in the cathedral, just sitting there and I am pretty sure I heard the Holy Ghost tell me that I have a-lot more to come. Does that mean a Camino in Spain? I don’t know. I just do not know.
By the way- the clouds are so beautiful. God has certainly created beyond our wildest dreams. Flying through the clouds right now. Imagine God is up here whenever and always.
Why am I going to Scotland? Well, I met Michael McMillan a Scottish Songwriter at the Pensacola Beach Songwriter’s Festival. He also believes in the power of music to heal. I like his music. I like his attitude. We became friends and felt like we needed to spend more time together. Micheal has set up a couple of shows and two festivals for us to play. So since I’m here.
Earlier this year I recorded an album ARCHIVAL CONGRUENCE in Sugarcane Jane’s studio (it is officially called the Admiral Bean Studio. It is located in Loxley Alabama). Right before covidity times I recorded an album titled TODAY. During covidy-ism the Bienville Buskers and I recorded an album titled WISDOM AND COURAGE. So there are three albums worth of material that I need to get out there and sing.
There was a moment on the Camino when the guy who ran an Alburgue let me borrow his son’s guitar. Two of the pilgrims there were having their 7th anniversary that day. I played them the song “So Mote It Be.” (From the ARCHIVAL It was this awesome moment in the middle of the mountains of Spain. It brought it all back.
All the reasons why I play music. Because I love it. Because people desire connection. Because we want that which is real. Because music is important in how it touches the soul. Because I am an artist. Because God has invested this talent in me. Because I must.
The Great Commission said to GO. It didn’t say stay. It says GO.
On this journey I talked with people about from many countries about the situation with us Veterans. All of them said that the Veterans in their countries also experience the same things we are in America. God has the answer to moral injury. (Take a moment and Google this: -moral injury and PTSD- just cut and paste. Then click on images and look at the diagram). Vet Church is my way of doing something about the problems of moral injury.
About to land in Switzerland. The plane was delayed so I will need to hustle for the next flight. Reminds me of the old saying I first heard at Basic Training in Fort Benning GA, “Hurry Up and Wait.” Of course I learned it as a staple of life during the rest of my Army career.
Ok I’m here, now to wait. I need a restroom/ servicio/ baño/ water closet/ toilet whatever you want to call it. Then I had the thought, “who is gonna watch my bag?” Fo over a month Terry has watched my bag and I have watched his, or they were locked up at the hotel, alburgue, pensión, hostel, or rented locker. And now I am by myself. Sorta feels fun. Sorta feels strange.
When you begin a journey with a friend there are initially many thoughts. Will the journey destroy the friendship? Will you continue the journey or quit? Will you make it to the end physically, emotionally and spiritually? These are just a few of the thoughts that I think about now.
We did make it. We are still friends, better than when we began. We both changed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We did the Camino de Santiago- the Camino Del Norte route, 800 plus kilometers or 500 plus miles. This morning before Terry walked out to the cab with me we prayed together. We thanked God for the journey and the work He did in our lives.