Route: Pamplona – Puente la Reina
Distance: 28 km
First day of my journey is behind me. I started it with a visit to the beautiful Cathedral of Pamplona hoping to get my piligrim’s passport there, so-called Credencial. I will need it along the way and at my destination of Santiago de Compostela. And indeed a nice woman inside led me to the …, where the …. took a brand new credencial from his cabinet and made a first stamp in it.
While walking to the Cathedral I admired the beauty of this city. It is world-known for its crazy bull runs that take place during the fiesta of San Fermin in July. I assume that period is not perfect for pilgrims as the city is packed with tourists. Now it is basically empty. Walking the main plaza one of my company’s restaurants catches my attention, La Tagliatella. I wish it was not so early so that I could have some great Italian food there. Instinctively I feel that I will not eat good food for quite some time. On the other hand maybe it is good that the restaurant is closed. I would eat too much and have to carry my heavy stomach while climbing today.
I feel that despite light cold I caught the other day things are generally in my favor. After some grocery shopping, breakfast I leave Pamplona in a brisk walk going south-west. On the way I pass a huge citadel, which brings back another interesting fact about the city. Around 500 years ago during the siege of the city by the French troops one of the bravest Spanish knights of the time got wounded while defending Pamplona. This experience along with prolonged convalesence turned out to be a major breakthrough in the life of this person who later founded the Jesuit Order and after his death was pronounced to be a Saint. I am talking about St. Ignatius de Loyola. This is the same person who created Ignatian spiritual exercises that I covered in one of my earlier posts. Interestingly our paths seem to cross frequently in the past weeks.
After circling the citadel I can already see characteristic signs pointing the Camino trail.
Once I take the proper direction out of the city I see on the horizon quite a mountain range covered in snow that I will have to pass today. Despite cold weather it is a very nice day. Sunny, a bit of a tail wind.
After a few kilometers I begin ascending and feel I have to remove one layer of clothes as it is getting hot „under the hood”. I am struck by emptiness walking through towns and countryside. Where are all the people? Has there been any nuclear attack? I meet a handful of locals going for a walk with their dog or run. They greet me with a nice wish for all pilgrims „Buen Camino”.
After 2 hours I reach the summit of Alto del Perdon, Mountain of Forgiveness (770 m.a.s.l). The trail is generally in good condition. At times I walk through mud, slippery stones or local icing. They say that after reaching Alto del Perdon your sins are forgiven and you gain spiritual health for the rest of the journey.
Indeed I feel a bit lighter descending. But let’s not be decived here. There is not magic but you need to take certain concrete steps. God is very concrete is expects the same from us. Let us not think that so-called general confession is sufficient. From time to time one must take a closer look at our lives, speak out openly about certain negative things with regret and commitment to improve and make amends.
Interestingly in several companies people generally accept the concept of annual job appraisal done by bosses. On the other hand many so-called believing-yet-not-practicing Catholics shy away from the idea of regular personal confession. You can also visit a shrink to discuss your issues but it will not be enough to heal the soul.
Back on the trail I can’t help the feeeling that God is keeping me company all the time. Since it is Tuesday I say the Rosary going through the Sorrowful Mysteries and what I see during the Crucifiction contemplation … thorny bushes in my way. Due to heavy mud on the trail I have to graspe
Wracając na szlak uderza mnie poczucie, że Bóg mi stale towarzyszy. Ponieważ jest wtorek odmawiam Tajemnice Bolesne Różańca i co widzę po drodze w trakcie rozważania Ukrzyżowania …. cierniste krzaki. Ponieważ jest sporo błota muszę jedną ręką trzymać te ciernie z dala od siebie, aby nie porwać sobie kurtki. Przypadek? Nieeee. On tu jest. Kolejne dowody będą na trasie.
After 3,5 hours I make a short stop to have a snack. Since everything is closed on my way I have to reach to my backpack for some supplies. In Poland we are pretty spoiled with comfort in this respect. No matter where we are in the country there is usually a grocery store and a bar in sight. Here between 2:00 and 5:00 pm you have siesta.
Shortly before 3:00 pm I am thinking to say the prayer Corona Divinae Misericordiae at the time of His death and … in front of me appear a tree with a Mary’s figure underneath and a bench to rest. It is 2:58 pm. I am not kidding. A coincidence? Quite a few of those happy incidents.
Physically such a long trekking is not particularly challenging for me with my endurance training base. I worry a bit about one thing, blisters. I feel that after some extended desceding I begin to feel some burning in my feet. Hopefully this is not it but blisters seem inevitable.
After 4,5 hours of pure walking I reach my first destination in Puente la Reina. After showing my Credencial and paying 5EUR at an albergue I get a bunk bed in a multiperson room. I notice that all the best beds are already taken by my fellow pilgrims. I sense I will see a lot of the same faces along the way to Santiago.
Meditation I: Peace of God instead of worry
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
(Flp 4, 6-7)
While meditating this excerpt the letter to Fillipians I am particularly intrigued by this wonderful promise to obtain God’s peace instead of worry, which can be achieved through prayers, petitions and with thanksgiving. What an appealing scenario!
The alternative is pretty depressing. How much time do I spend worrying about different things? And what can I get return for my worries. Only more wrinkles, ulcers… the list is endless. This observation also brings to mind another biblical fragment from Matthew:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing…
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
(Mt 6, 25, 27)