Saturday, 7 September 2013

sociability and solitude

Yesterday I had a text from a friend who remarked that he thought that the Chemin would have been more solitary. I believe that each person on the Chemin is there for their own reasons but the Chemin also puts people together for a reason. The present phase has seen me with Pierre, Isabel and Raphael for nearly a week. The meeting is spontaneous and temporary. I believe that the paradym for this is the remarkable story at the end of Luke' s gospel when he recounts the encounter on the road to Emmaus. The story asks us to consider who we meet on our journey of life and how we meet them. Perhaps the second question is the more important.
On the Chemin the sociability is limited. During the hours of walking it is rare that you are talking continuously. In the dormitories there is converse but also respect for the space of others. Interestingly the main moment of sociability is over the meal and in the better gites this is a profound moment of sharing. My experience is that the sharing is also helpful and appropriately challenging. A couple of nights ago in Eauze I told Pierre that I didn't plan to stay in Nogaro. He warned against the rural gites-there is little chance to share he said. I don't totally agree but I did book for the night. Pierre also warned that it might not be easy to find accommodation in Aire on Friday. I promptly booked the Gite and an hour later Raphael found it was full. As a result of listening to Pierre I had the least congenital night so far in a Gite with one toilet for 30 people. I was reminded of the first section of the Journey of the Magi where they also reflect on the difficulty of the journey. Today the experience has been totally different . Given that the weather has mercifully become cooler the walk to Aire sur l' Adour was gentle. The Gite only has space for seven and the reception from Andre was stunning .

1 comment:

  1. The encounter on the road to Emaeus is one of my favourite passages of Scripture. It is a very human story where the mundanity of daily routine is interupted by the sublime. This is well depicted by Caravaggio in his first painting of the story in 1601. The unexalted humanity of Christ is apt for this scene, since the human Jesus has made himself unrecognizable to his disciples, and at once confirms and surmounts his humanity and confirming his divinity. Caravaggio seems to suggest that perhaps a Jesus could enter our daily encounters. The dark background envelopes the bright tableau. The painting itself is full of symbolism (appropriately, a shell suggesting a pilgrim!) and supportive of the Catholic tenets of belief, especially transubstantiation which was being questioned in the reformation period. In his second version painted in 1606 Caravaggio had fled from Rome following his murder of another person. It is a much darker representation which reflects his personal turmoil. However the painting is true to its subject. We can meet Christ unexpectedly even when we don't recognise him. The trick is to be open to the realisation of recognition. This seems to me to be the whole purpose of of your pilgrimage - to meet and recognise Christ in His many forms. Keep going my good friend.