The Iron Cross at the Top of the Mountain–an offering/a burden relievedo

I spent last night half way up the mountain in a cold and lonely albergue where none of the few other pilgrims there spoke either Spanish or English. I left early for what was surely to be a big and challenging and quite long day.

Venus, my morning friend.

The city of Astorga behind me down below.

Here comes that heat and light…

Ahh… a new day… It’s all good.

We approach the famous Cruz de Fierro. Every pilgrim brings a stone from their homeland to place here. I have brought two: one hard stone from Leleahina, a temple to Hina (goddess of the moon) in the mountains near my ‘ohana’s home and one coral piece from an alter to Hina (goddess of tides) at Mokapu on the ocean at the far side of the ahupua’a that is my ‘ohana’s kuleana to love, know, protect and care for.

As I arrive at sunrise some pilgrims are already placing their long-carried offerings.

I have installed the stone and coral with my intention-hope-wish-desire-willingness-and-prayer: That humanity awaken to a new understanding of nature and itself, such that we will want to change the rules to place a high priority on caring for the well-being of the planet and all people. Such that we cut carbon emissions by half in a hurry. And I pray that humanity follows indigenous wisdom and leadership. And that Hina helps out too.

My stones: infused with prayer and carried on a plane for thousands of miles and carried on my back for hundreds.

I walk up and…

Place them with

The countless other offerings mounded up and brought over the centuries.

And when I come down from the cross to gather my bag and keep moving on, Peter from Alberta, with whom I have been meeting again and again off and on all along the Way from Day One, is there. And we hugged from the emotion of the shared moment of reaching this big milestone.

And I say something like, “…isn’t it great how each one makes their offering” and he responds with a different down-to-earth take that feels like wisdom and a gift to me in perfect time: ” a stone represents a burden and this is the release of that, and Christ said ‘come unto me and I will make your burden light…’ or something close to that.

“I like light and easy,” Peter said, and I said, “I like light and easy too.”

And I get it. I do feel light. I don’t have to carry that prayer like a heavy thing. And even my pack feels light. My heart for sure…

And down the other side.

It’s a veeerrry steep and rocky downhill walk today!

Ever westward. Into a future where one, if they look for it, can find the light, and feel it.

PS: when I first saw one of these on the trail I thought a fake silk flower had fallen off of someone’s well-adorned straw hat.

But nope. There’re real. Strewn all along the Way.

Love you…

Kat’s special day

Walking along a wide vast place.

It’s such a beautiful day.

I love the Camino. My enthusiasm is unflagging.

I continue on alone…

Feelin’ good…

When I come across

A couple from Poland–two new members of my Camino family–on their first day of Camino and their honeymoon!

We fall in step and stay together half the walking day.

They asked me where I’m from and then why I’m walking the Camino from so far away.

Now there may be several reasons, some of which I may not be aware. But.

I told them about Kathleen, of how I had left my job in Boston to come back home to Hawai’i to be with her for her last two months of life, and how it meant so much how much she enjoyed such little things every little part of each and every day. And I fell into that rhythm with her of loving simple little things… a lot.

And after she passed I no longer matched with that environment from my old work and I was done with it. And I wanted to stay with those little things and I knew The Camino was the perfect place for that. And I have taken Kat’s spirit with me on the Way and stayed with her with the little things.

And we walked on…

And after a while the woman asked her name and I said her name was Kathleen but we called her Kat and she took out her rosary and asked if she could pray for her and I said yes and we we walked quietly for miles and I was very moved.

Buen Camino, Kat!

The crescent moon chases Venus, Saturn, Mars

I left early under the Milky Way on my second day across The Paramo.

For an hour, looking back behind me to the eastern sky from time to time, I watched the play of the surprisingly bright crescent moon (who had lit the fullness of the rest of herself almost like she were full) chase three planets–Venus, Saturn, Mars–to eat them up, occluded behind her. An experience those last 15 years of city dwelling would not have afforded me.

Can’t quite get it on camera, but I really wanted you to be with me for this… so I did my best.

The slow drama to be ended by…

Clouds

And..

A sunrise…

So onward towards the hills

And

And across a long Roman bridge to…

A common Spanish breakfast in an uncommon setting.

The stone cathedral in Leon: 1,800 square meters of colored glass

Every city, town and village along the Camino to Santiago is centered around a cathedral, basilica, church, chapel or hermitage, depending on the historical importance and size of the place that we are passing through.

And each one in its own way is moving and touching–far beyond religious belief–to the pilgrim’s soul, walking far and becoming open and vulnerable to beauty as we are.

From the grandiose to the humble they speak to that eternal effort to connect human labor to the transcendent realms.

And I know there are so many. And each for me is refuge and is rest… and awesome views afresh. So I want to share every sight. But I know from outside of the experience it must seem like “one more church.” But from inside it is not like that…

So I take some care not to post repetitive. But. There is nothing like stepping into the Cathedral in Leon. One of the most beautiful in all of Europe and filled in the darkened tall arched and buttressed soaring stone spaces with the light from almost 2000 square meters of colored windows.

So here, in silence, we’ll just step in, and stay a little while.

Now, follow the signs…

Onward on The Way…

Spanish sun-soaked colors of the marketplace

I have always so loved food on so many levels–from production to harvest to preparation to consumption–as far back into my childhood as I can remember.

I think, along with love shared with other people, it is right up there with the very best of this planet and one of the top three treasures of being alive.

So it was quite fun when I stepped out the front door of my hotel this morning into this marketplace.

To find the many colors of the transformed Spanish sunlight run through the prism of the local crops. So here is a sample f this palette that I love:

I really don’t know how they do it–feed a whole country, probably a whole continent, with fresh, delicious, straightforward, organic and unprocessed food. In all the miles I have walked across the north of this country–almost two-thirds of the way so far, and all of it through food producing fields–I have only smelled agricultural chemicals once.

And every meal I have eaten, save one, has proved–by the taste and the way it fortifies and makes me feel good–that food is so respected here and it is held, and served, with pride. Love it.

My young country has a lot to learn…

PS:

Best chips I ever ate!