MR. BRAY

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The Camino Adventure: Day Thirteen

Saturday October 5th 2019


Cuisine to Candles 


We spent the day learning more about the city of Lourdes, France. While I had no supernatural encounters or met anyone new or exciting. I was really happy to spend some quality time with my sister Micah. She had encouraged me to take this whole adventure and it has been an amazing one!


The French are quite different than the Spanish. Somewhat similar to the Americans, overeating and at the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner times. Yet the French like the Spanish love to smoke cigarettes, drink espresso and eat croissants. Now I've only visited a small portion of France but the real difference I've discovered is the food. French cuisine is all that its promised. Delicious, delicate, ornate and wonderful. However it's also quite rich and exceptionally sweet. I thought Americans loved our sugar, but from my experience the French celebrate sugary confections masterfully and plentifully to another level entirely. 


This however has been the first time I've had significant stomach distress. I had anticipated this happening while I was hiking The Camino in Spain. Figured I would be having to use the bushes as the bathroom, which thankfully never happened. Yet here in Lourdes their rich foods while heaven in your mouth just twists my insides. I'm going to need to take care for the next few days as I don't want to have a restroom emergency while I'm in Paris.


Now with two evenings behind me here in France I can say I do miss The Camino. Spain has a familiar flair to it but The Camino is where I truly encountered healing. I felt it and I could see it everyday. Lourdes feels more of a spiritual resort setting. While stunning and inspiring it feels more westerns and commercial. Less of a retreat from the everyday life. And I'm guessing Paris will be somewhat more so.


There is an incredible beauty to a town that's so dedicated to religious culture where each night they do a fabulous candlelight vigil by the thousands. It's so overwhelming and peaceful. I have trouble imagining a similar experience being able to be so uninterrupted in a public setting in America. I stood there as droves of the devout sang Ave Maria, holding their own little lights to the world; there's no wonder people feel connected here. The architecture in Lourdes is like walking the magic kingdom in Disneyland. You feel like you're inside the film beauty and the beast with the spiraling gothic towers and castles all around.


I soaked in the moment. The waters here do taste delicious yet I'm not sure if there's really anything more powerful about them then their freshness of the spring. The Saint this town celebrates, Bernadette fought with cholera, a waterborne illness so my empirical mind has to assume a fresh water source had a large aspect to the health benefits of the people. However I'm not here to scrutinize people's experiences. Lourdes is quite lovely and the cathedrals here are just marvelous.


Throughout the day I reflected on my time and inside me there's a push and pull: I do and don't want to go home. I miss my bed but I don't have one. I miss my home yet I don't have one. This trip aside from a couple days at my sister Jaime's in Colorado has been the first I've had a bed in almost four months. Inside like a crockpot I'm feeling a pressure to return to my everyday life. I have a few weeks to make a decision: build a life in California or elsewhere. I've collected so many powerful and moving moments durning this time and I feel both refreshed and a bit puzzled. I wanted a lot from this experience if I'm being honest. I wanted to find healing for my broken heart from my divorce and I can say I've found quite a bit of that. I wanted to find direction for where to go after The Camino and in many ways I've only opened more doors than I can choose: an excellent problem but still one my heart and mind are prayerful considering. And the largest ask: I wanted to find love while I was on The Camino. While I figured it would be romantic love I can't say if anything like that will blossom, but I did find love. Love in international friendships and they easily could last the rest of my life. 


The Camino provides was a common sticker I saw people wearing in Spain and that is so truthful. The Camino does provide: it is a wonderful experience with wonderful people on a journey to grow and process experiences. My heart has swoon a few times here in France. I've felt the pangs of a missing companion but I see now that the shape has changed to a friend sized hole and hopefully one day a new wife. 


So while I walked back to my hotel, blowing out my candle from the evenings service I know my heart is with God and that my path will be visible as I take those steps. I am loved from all across the oceans now and I feel that love transforming me. I know a greater change is before me and while I'm at a loss for what that looks like; at the moment I'm ready.