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The Camino Adventure: Day Four

Thursday September 26th, 2019

1:04am Palafox Hotel

Having a bit of trouble getting to sleep so I decided to shower and do some light packing. I haven't mastered the hot water issues here. It basically goes from the temperature of lava to McDonald's coffee haha! Plus the pressure is so powerful mix that with the heat and you feel like you're losing up to two layers of dermis with each shower haha. 

2:13am Palafox Hotel

I've been fighting with my thoughts. I took a bath to unwind. It didn't really help much. What am I going to do after the Camino? In my heart I know it's a silly thing to strive over as the very purpose of this pilgrimage is to answer that question and recenter my soul. Yet my mind has been racing the last hour. I have some options I've been weighing, some involve moving back to the Pacific Northwest and reclaiming my roots. Some involve digging deep and discovering roots in California while others involve even more unfamiliar territory and traveling to distant states or even countries. That's the thing, my mind is just striving, racing to an end which is ultimately robbing me of sleep and the day by day beauty of the Camino. I just need to air this stinking thinking and enjoy the present. My mind doesn't have these answers but my heart does or rather will. Because even if I never return or if I'm radically transformed all of these troubles are paralysis of a hypothetical analysis. I'm getting in touch with my God, myself and my spiritual heritage. A few of the pilgrims made little jokes about me converting to Catholicism I laughed it off, because in my mind's eye I'm already catholic is the sense that the word "Catholic" means: of a universal Christian faith. 

Father Michael and I had in-depth conversation about faith and spirituality and it's been such a treat. A lot of my misconceptions about Catholics have been readily being dissolved. However here doesn't feel natural to list them perhaps another time. But what has really seared my conscience is the love that these people have for their Maker and the richness in which they express that. I told Father Michael a rather controversial thought I had, which I'm adamant in it though I understand many people might be offended to hear it. I told Father Michael that I personally believe as an artist and storyteller that religious folks and people of faith have a greater propensity to connect through stories. We just do! If you're an atheist a symbol will never have the kind of powerful significance to you as it does as a person of faith; for from our point of view we're sharing actual believed to be true stories! Doesn't matter how sensitive or creative you are if you're an atheist everything of spiritual significance just doesn't have the same weight. And there's power in believing something to being true over just something being interesting or insightful. If you hold nothing sacred or truthful no symbol in the world however personal has the same strength, it's just your personal point of view floating along. Sure I get this is a preachy idea but if you give it any moment to think about it you'll see what I'm getting at. Think of it like this say a child believes in Santa to them the evidence is insurmountable, Santa loves them and thinks about them and even rewards them for their goodness. 

Now perhaps it's an unfair comparison of a child's beliefs in Santa to say that of a Catholic believing that the Eucharist or communion supernaturally becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but I'm not poking fun at all! You see just because you don't believe something, especially in the realm of faith doesn't mean you're better than the believer: it really only shows that you don't understand and feel the significance. Taking this idea a bit further I'm realizing that when I connect with another person it's not because they entertained me but because they made me believe something was true about them. And that revelation created an empathetic thread to them. So when we lie to each other or rather tell stories that are not meant to be believed we attempt to create an artificial connection with others. Perhaps this is why over exposure to social media can make us feel depressed? Or when someone we've loved for over a decade professes they've moved on and what was inside them towards you is now dead? To believe in something is really an awesome thing yet when I stop believing I feel like I'm unraveling my purpose for living. This might just be a bit of a stream of consciousness but there's a logic here that speaks to my heart. So while these pilgrims jest that I might be converted I also deeply hope I am! I hope that I experience such an encounter that I can believe in the goodness of others, the power of prayer, the strength of my inner self and the roots of my faith in a greater capacity.

9:34am on the bus to Sarria

Laying down in the back of the bus listening to James Taylor and I'm feeling at peace. His music has a strong connection with my childhood. My Dad's folks lived way out in the sticks in Southern Oregon and they'd often be blasting James Taylor records. So whenever I'm listening to James Taylor I feel immersed in those times of nature and comfort at their home. He’s one of those artist that the older I get the more depth I find in his music. He just gets me. He's down to earth, cool with faith, family and Jesus. I dig it. I'm also sure there's a track at any moment of his that could be the soundtrack to much of my life. I've cried a lot of healing tears these past few months from my heart break and divorce listening to his tunes. I hate that I'm divorced so much. It feels like a scarlet letter. But this is my reality and I can't run from it. There's a question in my mind I haven't been able to escape. Will I ever let go of the flame I have for my ex wife? I get were divorced and she's decided to cut me out of her life but it's hard to let go. I heard a lot of advice from people and loved ones on how to move on or process this stuff. Some advice was well intended, and some was excellent advice but if I'm being completely honest few people I know have been in truly the exact same shoes, having their spouse or loved one leave them and no longer love them. I know people mean well but at the end of the day it's my life and I need to learn to take care of myself as it effects me the greatest. Basically you have the most skin in the game of your life. I just feel so alone sometimes.

There's a silly idea that popped in my mind that I might discover love on the Camino and that while completely hypothetical it has given me a pinch of comfort. I just miss the normalcy of affection I had for so long. I miss holding someone and being held myself. I'm glad I'm here and I'm glad I'm taking this time to work on my inner being. 

6:37pm almost to Sarria 

Today we took a stop off in the town of Burgos to have lunch and tour the local cathedral. By far the most animated tour guide we've had. Her name was Gloria and she was hilarious! We'd be walking through the town and she'd say after we awed and gasped at some architectural details and say "oh and you'll forget all about this in a minute after you see this next. Honestly this is nothing" and she'd wave her hand at it like it was garbage. 

When we arrived to the town square we had a short lunch break. I had the lamb and a side of black pudding, my first time trying that dish. I shared some with Father Michael whose Irish and his eyes widened and in his adorable accent said"oh that's the real stuff" as he smiled from ear to ear. I'm so much enjoying his company. He's just this precious minster and exceptionally kind person. He feels like the Irish Papa I never had. Moments earlier when we were on the bus Father Michael and I had spotted a lady on the corner arrayed in a wedding dress and he looks over at me and says "we've gotta bride looking for a groom I suppose". We both laughed. 

Lunch was really nice until we realized we had to rush to our tour. The Burgos cathedral while not as large as the Zaragoza Cathedral was everything your art history classes showed you. It was grand, over the top, at times modest and every inch serine. In the Zaragoza cathedral along with the Burgos cathedral you'll often see a mosaic or facade where there's angelic people and they all have the same faces and expressions. It can be argued that the artist was just trying to save time on another reference model but the more accurate interpretations is that the belief that we're all the same in God's eye and heaven. You'll see this half asleep half awake expression on everyone's face to show them that their in a deep sense of tranquility. The funny thing in my opinion is this expression is also found in Buddhism and Hinduism to: the expression of inner peace just looks the same across the pond and in other works of art.

There was really only one upset inside the Burgos cathedral. I had forgotten to take my hat off. Honestly the previous cathedral had displayed proper reminders and such at the door so I hadn't seen anyone say otherwise. I'm not catholic, and a hat isn't hurting anyone from my point of view. Heck Jewish men wear special hats as an expression of their faith so I still don't see the big idea. Well some dude in a thick accent snaps at me to remove my hat. So realizing my faux pas I apologized and quickly removed my hat. I need to be more mindful of the cultural milieus. All that aside the Burgos cathedral was truly amazing! Unlike the Zaragoza cathedral they allowed photography so I went crazy and took a ton of photos.

Outside the cathedral we all got our first stamp on our journey. Outside we also see other "peregrinos" or Camino Pilgrims. A young couple from France that clearly had too much sun and another group from Chile. The guy in that group was wearing sandals to help air out some gnarly blisters he got on his feet after his last thirty mile stretch. Hopefully we're not in for that future but I assume only time will tell. 

7:37pm bus to Sarria

For the last 50 plus miles the landscape has dramatically and beautifully been transformed into what looks like southern Oregon. Thick green forest and mountains covered in trees. If it wasn't for the occasional castle or other distinctly Spainish ruins I'd be convinced I had awoken to my old home state.

11:14pm Hotel Roma Sarria, Spain

We just finished up dinner and did a quick prep for the next day's adventure. I feel so stuffed it hurts to lie down. These Spaniards eat crazy large portion haha. Tomorrow is projected to be a fifteen mile hike. I'm a little nervous if I'm being honest. I don't wanna get any nasty blisters. Oh well I've done all the prepping I can do thus far, onward we go!