Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The rest of the day went quickly, By now I was well under way. The previous day had not been easy. It had been very long way and I was tired. Navette came and went in a cup of cafe con leche. And the rolling countryside just kept rolling along. At last the edge of Najerra came into view. I did not find the outskirts very appealing, but I must say that I was not much in the mood for tourism. It was getting a little too much by now. Walking down the hill into the centre of the town did not increase my interest. The motorists were bent on playing that well known pilgrim game that is one of the joys of Spain~'Squash the pilgrim'. This game can be played in any town or village where pilgrims and narrow streets with high walls can be found. On turning the corner I saw the river and isn't it beautiful. The banks looked well kept and really are a jewel. I asked a passerby where the albeque was she told me cross the river by the bridge and it was at the far end of the right hand bank. So off I go, to discover a wooden temporary build that has replaced the monastic house that was the the stop for the night in Najera. It seems nice enough,but oh so busy. I find a bunk and sit on it. It is in the middle bank of bunks. It is as I like it, on the bottom level. At that moment a man arrives, who turns out to be an artist painting his way to Santiago, with his girl friend. They talk loudly to those around them and me about the painting he has done that day and they explain that today they have not walked very far but have done many paintings. The girlfriend is a little fed up that it is stop, start, stop start. Never a really good days walking. I wonder if I should have brought some painting materials with me. The artist opens a folio of work for us all to see. At that moment I am thankful for my camera. I would not like to walk and carry a folio like the one he has. It is difficult enough carrying the stuff I need to wash, sleep and dress with. He finishes in a while and I sit on the edge of my bunk.By this time I have struck up a conversation with the lady on the bunk opposite me. She is about forty and pleasant person to talk to. She is here with her friend. They are both from London. Her friend is in publishing. She does not say what she does for a living. We talk for some time.I tell her that I have got into the swing of doing 20 plus miles a day. She says that they are going slower.I say that I am enjoying clocking up the miles. She says that the thing she enjoys is that , I quote,'the floaty feeling that comes when you are walking and your mind drifts off'. She describes it further. I do not really understand. But I will. I most certainly will. What she has spoken off is the gate of mysticism. This is the heart of a Christan pilgrim prayer experience. But for this pilgrimage and for a year or two it will remain closed to me. It is interesting that I had experienced what she was talking about, but like a gate I had not gone through it into prayer. We are now beginning to get to the areas that this blog is to discuss. I hope that you now understand why I wanted to relate my first experience. I do not think that my first pilgrimage is very different from that of others I have since spoken with. I am reminded of the verse in the scriptures. Enter by the narrow gate that leads to life. I think it is a narrow gate into God presence in pilgrimage. Most bounce off the 'floaty' stage and do not explore it. So their pilgrimage is meaningfully for many reasons, but does not quite get down to the deep places of the soul. Pilgrimage is mystical.

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