Thursday, 3 October 2013

Colour and light

There is no doubt that this has been the most difficult week so far . There are three reasons for this . Today was the start of my eighth week on the road . I have walked for 47 of the last 50 days! It is easy to forget that a pilgrimage is a time of deprivation and cleansing . St Paul understood this perfectly . The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness,he says in the Letter to the Romans . He also says when I am weak then I am strong . It is precisely at this stage of the pilgrimage that God can manifest Himself . The challenge is to stay focused and open.
The second reason for the difficult week has been the weather! Rain has never been far away and Tuesday was one of the most miserable days I have known . Again the challenge is to realise that God is present in every circumstance.
The third reason is that I have a cold! (Probably the result of the weather.)
In the evening at La Casa del Cura Henna was quite concerned about a missing sock! Rummaging through my sack I found the offending item to her great relief. She,and Leo, have given us attention to rival the Ferme de Bouysse.
On Wednesday morning Leo served us breakfast and wished us well. Fortunately the rain had relented as we made our way across the Meseta . To the north we got fleeting glimpses of the Picos de Europe. From Calzadilla to Reliegos there are almost 17km of relatively similar countryside. Beyond Reliegos we followed the road to the quaintly named Mansanilla de Las Mulas. Our albergue had the name 'El Jardin del Camino' but exhibited little of a garden and was functional inside. After the luxury and conviviality of the Casa del Cura it was a bit of a shock . We were soon joined by Pauline and David who had decided to take the bus into Leon the following day.
When Simon and I walked the 12km I realised that they had made a good choice! Our route was along a busy road, which made conversation impossible, and then through the outer suburbs of Leon.  As rain was threatening we stopped for a coffee and ended up in deep conversation with the barman.
Entering Leon the rain finally started and we donned our wet gear . I managed to get us lost but was rewarded with an experience which took my breath away. Turning up a tiny street we were suddenly confronted by the soaring buttresses of Leon Cathedral towering over the surrounding area .The effect was mesmerising . It is amazing how medieval Cathedrals still have the capacity to inspire awe.
By now it was pouring down and I entered the Cathedral. I tried my 'I'm a priest' line at the entrance but the only discount offered was that for pensioners!
I have never visited Chartres . It is high on my wishlist!  After Chartres it is claimed that Leon has the greatest collection of stained glass in Europe . On this gloomy morning,and even though I have been in the Cathedral twice before,the quality and variety of glass truly took my breath away . Having been in Burgos just a week ago I reflected that the artistry of Burgos is in the stone and that of Leon in the glass . I was reminded of Daniel's comment in Cahors that these buildings are a statement of faith about their creators . It was certainly a moment to savour.
Outside in the pouring rain I met David and Pauline. Over a coffee we arranged to meet at the albergue just outside the city. Again they chose the more sensible option by taking the bus as the route out passed through nondescript suburbs and warehouses. At the albergue they told me that they had met Amede heading out of the city.

1 comment:

  1. I have visited Chartres Cathedral twice. It is a cavernous building which is rather dark inside but which has wonderful stained glass. It was donated by the Guilds between 1210 and 1240 and there are more than 150 windows depicting daily life in the 13th century and biblical stories. The widows were removed during both World Wars and protected. There is also a 13th century labyrinth in laid in the centre of the nave. As a penance pilgrims would follow the route on their knees echoing the Way of the Cross. The route is over 260 metres long and took over an hour to complete. The Camino is rather longer!