Thursday, 5 September 2013

Compostela ( cont'd)

Happy pilgrim's dinner
Pierre and I
The morning was stunning and I reflected on the conversation of the previous evening when we had talked about the meaning of the Chemin. I thought of the mysterious story at the start of Matthew' s gospel. The three wise men fit into his ideas that Jesus completes the Jewish expectations as announced in the Old Testament. Eliot develops this theme in his poem 'The Journey of the Magi'. He wrestles with the paradoxes of the journey.  It ceases to be just one journey and I feel that this journey is an archetype of human journeying. The men are seekers after truth, and so is the pilgrimage . This led me on to think about truth. In the gospel it is not an intellectual concept but an option for life, John uses it twice. Firstly when Jesus declares that He is the truth and then in the amazing conversation between Him and Pilate:' I came into the world for this to bear witness to the truth and anyone who is on the side of truth is with me' Being on the side of truth is our goal. A better Old Testament word is integrity which conveys being true to yourself and being the person that God wants you to be . I found much to reflect on that I would return to many times in the coming days.
I turned off the road to visit the medieval walled village of Larresingle and spooked a deer which had been grazing less than 5 metres from me. This led me to recite the opening verses of one of my favourite Psalms:Like the deer that yearns for running streams so my soul thirsts for you my God. My soul is thirsting for God the God of my life. When can I enter and see the face of God. It struck me as strange to find an Old Testament writer wanting to see the face of God. In the Old Testament seeing the face of God meant instant death. Moses had to shield his face on the mountain and still the reflected glory of God shone on his face.  ( What a wonderful idea for us 'reflecting the glory of God'
God was kinder the Elijah and covered his face for him. In the New Testament seeing the face of God is the way to life:' we shall become like Him, because we shall see Him as He really is' this is how the author of the Letter of John puts it.
I returned to the story of the Magi. They were led by heavenly signs. Many people think that the etymology of Compostela is' the field of stars' Our pilgrimage is directed for us . On Sunday at Moissac when I was doing my stretches in the garden I noticed that the stars were particularly clear.
I was amused that when I returned to the path the Germans were just crossing the road heading for the bridge which marks 1000 km from Santiago. They all have sticks with metal points and there was a clicking sound as they moved. At the bridge incongruously they were singing: 'Sur le Pont d'Avignon' They ignored me completely and left me to have a break. 

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