Friday, 11 October 2013

En Santiago se van a caer las lagrimas

There is a danger of peppering these posts with suprlatives but today is certainly very special! With nearly 1000metres of ascent and a destination at 1300metres in a remarkable village where the church has existed since the 9th century today was bound to be very special. Add to that bubbling brooks, autumnal colours, birds singing, and a deep blue sky and you have the perfect recipe.
Yesterday Simon, and I stayed in a very alternative Albergue. Alfonso, the pony tailed hospitalero, was quite a character needing re-assuring hugs every so often. We were joined by the german girl (Cornelia) I had first met at Mass in Hontanas. The three of us wandered around Villafranca de Bierzo in suffocating heat and met a good number of friends.One shock was to find  Deborah from San Francisco  in plaster after falling in the shower. Cornelia and I decided to have a simple supper at the Albergue which we ate after I had had a leg massage! Alfonso and Jesus (the owner) were pottering around. Simon returned before nine and we settled down to a quiet night in our attic dormitory.
I was up around 6.30 and Jesus had prepared a delicious breakfast which included freshly fried eggs. Simon and I set off in the dark for the 330metre climb of Alto Pradela. We were rewarded with a stunning sunrise.We took the detour to the village of Pradela where time had stood still for 500 years and had a coffee in the bar.
The descent to Trabadelo was easy and we joined the road with a lovely clear river by our side and beautiful autumn colours. At Vega de Valcarce I had a ham roll and then we set off on the 700metre climb. At Herrerias I filled up with water at a spring exchanging greetings with the young Australian who had shared our dormitory last night. Simon spoke with Mike an American and I heard him say´"Is that Gerard, the priest?"
The final climb was up a truely ancient road. We twice passed cattle being led down in the opposite direction. The effort was rewarded with views that exceeded anything that I have seen during the whole Camino. It is amazing to look back over all the hills that we have crossed since Astorga. At Laguna de Castilla we drank fresh orange juice and then we were in O Cebreiro. On a whim I said to Simon let´s have a room! For 50 euro we got a splendid room right next to the Church.
I entered the Church and greeted the Franciscan brother who invited me to concelebrate at the 7.00pm Mass. In a bar we met Pauleen and David and Maureen´s elder daughter Anna. I noticed that Ana from Logrono was having lunch. Maureen soon arrived and we were a jolly company. Knowing that Ana was finishing tomorrow I went over to take my leave of her and was rewarded with a very warm embrace. She was sitting with a man that I not previously met called Miguel Angel. Ana told him how far I had come. Quick as a flash he said: "En Santiago se van a caer las lagrimas". I was reminded of Kathleen Raine´'s line:
'How can my heart contain a company so great.´
Throughout this pilgrimage I have felt enwrapped in the love of so many people. It is both overwhelming and humbling. I returned to the Church and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament

1 comment:

  1. Dear Fr Basil,
    So pleased to thear that you are in good company and are still enjoying the business of walking. You do seem to make many references to food! We have all (Junior & Senior Schools) just come back from Clifton Cathedral where we have celebrated St Edward's Day. I should think Marchant's Bus Company are celebrating too! Anyway, it seems that the music went down very well - we did a couple fo the movements from Ian Higginson's St Edward's Mass as well as the setting of the 'Beati' that Steve wrote for last year. I am in the middle of writing a carol for the Carol Service. Better get a move on with it or it will be for next Christmas! Making sure that Mr H gets an interesting organ part!
    Take care,
    Mrs T