Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Baggage Behind

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."                     Matt. 11.29,30

Madrid                 Thursday, 27th June 2013

Yesterday as I alighted the train from Malaga at Estacion de Atocha in Madrid I was immediately placed on red alert against that ubiquitous enemy, the baggage behind - or the burden that follows us. Many of my fellow travellers were hurriedly rushing, I know not where, trawling behind them small carriers of threat, of potential damage or crippling disaster.

One of the facilites of the modern era is the small suitcase which is fitted with wheels, for easy mobility, and an extendable handle, presumably for some sort of control. These mobile threats are popular presumably because they can usually be transported without passing from their owner´s care, thereby eliminating tedious delays in awaiting the arrival of one´s luggage at journey´s end.

The menace comes from these little monsters when the owner´s care does not manifest in the degree that it should. All too often the owner locates the potential weapon on terra firma, extends the handle to full length then takes said handle, positioning themselves in front of the load and take off - to the apparent unconcern and neglect of any following traffic. If this leader should stop suddenly or turn sharply the consequences for anyone following could be most unpleasant. I know! I have learnt alertness the hard way, but it has armed me and fitted me to now be on the look out.

So, where is this reflection going? A couple of years ago - I think it was at Athens airport - I noticed the volume of luggage that many people seem to transport around the world. It would appear that some leave very little ar home! I conclude that personal goods and chattels obviously mean a great deal, yet I commented at the time how much freer life would be if we didn´t carry so much baggage as we went.

 My reflection today is somewhat similar yet with a different focus.

As I observed so many people seemingly content to trawl small, inoffensive (whilst stationery maybe) containers behind them, I couldn´t help but think of the minor baggage we carry behind us through life, and the possibility that our baggage could cause threat, and potential damage to others.

There may be times, who knows how many in the normal span of a life, when we need to rid ourselves of baggage, however minor it might seem. Too often we don´t do this. Instead we "deal" with it by putting it out of our thinking, metaphorically placing it behind us as we continue our journey. But the baggage is not gone. It follows us wherever we go. And, whether or not it´s ever realised, it has the potential to cause harm to others.

Jesus offers me a partnership. He says, "Come, yoke yourself to me. Take my light burden on you." In these words, I hear Him  say, "Offer me your heavy burdenLay it down. You don´t need to drag it through life with you. Be free. Know the liberty that exists when you partner with me. I´m here waiting. don´t delay! Drop your bundle now, and move forward, in freedom."

I negotiated my way through Estacion de Atocher without incident or accident. I was careful, but I couldn´t help wondering how much more pleasant it would have been without other people´s baggage waiting to trip me up.

Lord Jesus,

I come to You and I do, indeed, yoke myself to You. It´s my wish to remain in that inseparable partnership with You that I´ve already taken up.

I know I carry baggage despite my actions in laying it down. for as I give up one lot of yuck more is waiting to waylay me. And so, I adopt the habit of laying it down and giving it up. I know the liberty I have when I surrender everything to You. I know, and I am grateful.

Take me, Lord. Cleanse me of all impurity. Release me from whatever would seek to hold me back. Lead me on, in Your light and Your way.              Amen.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Always There

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."                  Matt. 28.20

Malaga                         Monday, 24th June 2013

I´m now into the final days of this Spanish Sojourn. I pre-booked several nights in Malaga thinking to have some restful, easy days in the sun before returning to Australia, and winter.

This time is like the third facet of my trip. The first was the Camino and the discipline, together with the enjoyment, of walking. I recall the God days and the neighbour days. I reminisce now over my companions, the new friends I made as we walked and shared together. Already I am receiving emails from some of them. Our conversation was rarely superficial. We shared part of life as we walked together. We shared our lives as we talked. At times the talk was deeply intimate, spiritual and often of God. It seemed natural to share so. But then, sharing about God is neither un-natural nor difficult for me.

The second phase of my visit embraced the times spent in the great cities of southern Spain. There was less opportunity to connect with others during this time. I guess we had a common goal - that of sightseeing, but each seemed to be involved in their own agenda and timetable.

This did not bother me. Perhaps unlike many others, my priority was not to see as many sights as possible. I was more interested in "experiencing" the places I visited. I did not need to cover every ancient monument and national treasure. I was more concerned for spiritual encounters in those places I visited, places where faith had been put into action down through the centuries. I was not disappointed. On my own I had God-encounters which just wouldn´t have happened (or, at least, not been as powerful) in company with others.Was this a selfish time? I choose to think not! Instead I look on it as intensely personal and deeply intimate. Throughout this time God was so obviously present.

And now, I have transitioned into what I could call holiday mode. For a couple of days now I have spent more time in conscious relaxation. The hotel has a swimming pool. Across the road is the beach and the gentle, warm waters of the Mediterranean. Granted, this morning I visited the sights of Malaga, the Cathedral where I was certainly conscious of God´s presence, then a challenging but rewarding climb up to the Castillo Gibralfaro, with its reminders of the chequered history of this region and the breathtaking views from the top - of creation, both God-made and man-made.

Then I descended to the city and its awakening commercial bent. I did some "touristy" shopping before returning to the hotel, and the pleasure of a swim.

These days are restful and relaxing and, just maybe, it would be easy to not be aware of God. I´m thankful that I can´t do this. I have long been conscious that my relationship with Him is for ALL TIME, and for ALL TIMES! I cannot conveniently call Him up and bring Him to mind when I have desperate needs to be met, and then casually ignore Him when all seems to be going well for me. He has committed to me for every second of every day, in fair weather as well as in foul: "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you" (Heb. 13.5). I recall reminding someone that never means "not ever". I cannot dare to remind another of this and not live by it myself. He is always there.

I can easily remember Him in times of need, of trial, and maybe trouble. I call on Him to help me. Just being able to do this helps. Let me eqaully remember Him on sunny days, in times when life is "just great".

Yes, let me always be mindful of Him, and ever thankful.

Lord God,

Paul exhorts me to give thanks in all things. It seems easy to cry out to You when I need help, and then thank You for rescuing me.

Right now, I thank You for the sun shining. I thank You for the delightful view from the terrace of my hotel bedroom. Indeed, I thank You for this entire establishment, for its amenities and its proximity to the beach. I thank You for the time I am able to spend here, for the rest I am obviously enjoying and for the sweet reminiscences that come percolating through my memory.

But most of all, I thank You for You. You are with me as You promised. You are faithful. May I never forget this.

I commit the coming days to You. May Your presence never dim with me.                          Amen.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Spanish Sanctuary

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?..."          1 Cor. 6.19

Granada                                  Thursday, 20th June 2013

I have been searching, in this land of mighty monuments to the faith, for that place of sanctuary where I can relax, be truly still and know my God - a place where I might feel His presence with me, and know His love, care, comfort and strength.

It has been quite a search! In these glorious cities of southern Spain I have seen glimmers of that which I hoped for. I have experienced disappointment and, finally, today, a most wonderful encounter.

What I feel I have mostly seen have been magnificent, sometimes grandiose, edifices which, sadly, seem now to be more monuments to past human achievements than places of rest and communion with our great God. I´m sure there are faithful believers in each place, who visit with Him whenever tourist hours allow. But, for my part, I grieved at the restricted access to these holy places outside of the times when they seem to be accepted generally as tourist attractions or ancient monuments.

There have been exceptions for me. Jaen Cathedral, in all its opulence and ornamentation, brought stillness and silence away from the crowds - maddening or otherwise! I sensed communion. I was in a holy place. He was there to meet me. I had a further brief taste this morning at Granada Cathedral. There was a Mass in progress. I couldn´t follow it, but I didn´t need to. The presence was there, and  the language of love is universal.

I have also been greatly touched by experiences in the open, in parks and gardens. The gardens of Reales Alcazares in Sevilla brought a sharp awareness to me of the beauty and peace of God´s creation. Likewise, looking out over the country from the heights of Vejer de la Frontera. And, more recently, just this morning as I enjoyed the surrounds of the Monasterio de San Jeronimo. I sat in the paved area flanked with conifers and evergreens and heard the cheerful chirping of birds. I felt Jesus speak to me. He told me He knew of my expectation for an encounter with Him -  in a place dedicated to God. He said He´d been waiting for the right moment, and it had now come. He promised me a most special day. To receive these words from Him was satisfying enough but, if there is more to come, let me be ready.

Later in the morning I made a walk through the Albaicin area which is north east of the city, and to the west of the Alhambra. The walk involves an ascent (giving first glimpses of the Alhambra) and a short time on the level top before descending once more into the city centre. As I began the downward journey, I noticed two towers which looked like they belonged to a church building. I decided to investigate further when I got below.

I found the towers and the church they belonged to. It was open and, wonder of wonders, no tourists. Inside were a handful of worshippers doing just that, worshipping in the peace and stillness of a holy sanctuary. I moved forward into the body of the church and sat in the peace. Before long I was not sitting but sprawled out kneeling, with my arms supported by the pew in front  and my butt resting on the pew behind. Inelegant, maybe, but natural, easy and totally at rest in Him.

Piped music came gently through the air. It was Bach, truly piped for it was being played on a pipe organ!! It was gentle, soothing and absolutely right. Each window was filled with stained glass. This is something I am familiar with, but find to be somewhat rare in Spanish sacred buildings.

The front of the church was resplendent in iconography, but it was perfectly alright. It seemed appropriate, and not tacky. The figure of the ascended Christ was most meaningful. It was realistic, natural and inviting. At one and the same time He seemed to be reaching out to me, inviting me, and embracing me. How could this be? Why not? Is anything impossible to Him?

Then, in this hallowed building (and the very atmosphere conveyed such), I felt that Jesus was opening up the temple of the Holy Spirit in me to be filled, once more, to overflowing with His presence. This is communion of the most holy kind. I continued to gaze at the scene before me. Even the fresh flowers, which are most subtle in this instance, speak to me. The red roses at the feet of the glorified Christ remind me that, by His blood, He has overcome all and now reigns in glorious triumph. The white roses, two arrangements lower down in the altar piece, suggest to me that His love and purity are available to all who will receive.

Today I have received. He has wonderfully met with me our Father´s house. I am blessed. I am grateful. I gaze upon this beautiful image of Him but I see beyond. The sights that the Spirit gives are indescribable, the sensations are inexplicable. But love abounds, and my spirit rejoices in and with His Spirit. Truly it is the Holy Spirit in me that creates the true temple. The constructions of mortal hands are as nothing without the divine presence. He is in me, and He is wonderfully present in this place. I thank my God.

As I continued to gaze upward, the figure that earlier reached out and embraced me seemed now to be commissioning me and sending me. And what to, and what for? All I can do is hope to be a good witness for Him. How is this done? I believe the words of the Revelation to John tell us how: By the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Rev. 12.11). His blood was shed for me. I give my testimony for Him.

Lord Jesus,

I thank You for this most wonderful encounter. You promised me a most special day. It is so.

I give myself into Your keeping for the rest of this day and beyond. I thrill that You accompany me as my journey companion.

Receive my love, with my thanks, in Your most precious Name.              Amen.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A Still Day

Be still, and know that I am God.                                        Psalm 46.10

Vejer de la Frontera                   Saturday, 15th June 2013

The Internet suggested Vejer de la Frontera to be the prettiest town in Spain. That was enough for me to book an overnight stay. Since arriving, I've increased the stay to two nights. The place is delightful. One writer describes it as: Crowning a brown hilltop like a spoonful of whipped cream (Elisabeth de Stroumillo - Southern Spain). I agree. From the moment of arrival I have felt peace and serenity in this place.

As the bus brought me from Cadiz yesterday, first along the coast and then a little inland, the words that came into my mind were, "Be still, and know that I am God". I wondered then if my stay here might be extended. And so it has been.

Today, then, is largely a day of rest, a still day in which to quiet myself and give myself more fully to knowing Him. Early this morning, before the heat of the day, I walked. I took what the Tourist Map called Itinerario a pie recomendado - a recommended walking tour. It was an absolute delight and the tranquility was palpable. I gave myself to stillness. I felt His presence.

After breakfast I settled in a part of the hotel (converted from a convent) that oozes peace and welcome. It's like an enclosed cloister, lined with good seating, occasional tables and lush green plants. I was alone. My verse for reflection was from Matthew: "Nor are you to be called 'teacher', for you have one Teacher, the Christ" (Matt. 23.10). I recalled the many things Jesus is to me - Saviour, Lord, brother, friend, encourager, strengthener, protector, fellow-traveller, lover. But today I consider Him as Teacher. And my teacher is the Christ. Christ is "the Chosen One". I therefore see Jesus as chosen by God to teach me.

But what does He teach me? Sitting in the former convent, Jesus showed me how to be still. It was so easy. I remembered how, when on earth, He would leave the others and remove to a quiet place of intimate communion with the Father. And this was happening to me in that moment. Jesus wasn't selfish in doing so. I might even say it was necessary for Him to do so. It reconnected Him with the source. It re-energised and re-vitalised Him for the Father's work that He had so dedicated Himself to.

I dare not suggest such a mission for myself. For now, I simply give myself to the stillness, and to Him. If anything further is to come, this is entirely with Him.

Lord Jesus,

You know the many things You are to me. I acknowledge You in everything, and I thank You. Today I receive You particularly as Teacher. I open myself to whatever You would show me.

In my early morning walk around the Old Town I experienced calm, peace and intimacy. I feel sure that You have brought me to this place, engineering this day of rest. I lay the day before You. I am ready, Lord. I give myself into Your care, for teaching, sharing, fellowship, revelation, intimacy - and love.

Thank You.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Goodbye...and Hello!

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.    Psalm 139.3

Sevilla                Wednesday, 12th June 2013

Santiago at the week-end was Galicia in true Celtic form. The sky was grey, the air was misty. Rain fell lightly and the ancient, majestic stone buildings and medieval streets spoke of another time and, maybe, another place. The setting was appropriate, and conducive, to making farewells.

I like Santiago. When I enter after several days walk (or many days in the case of my first Camino) it is like meeting up again with an old friend. And I enter in company with new friends, people who were unknown to me just a short time ago but who, by sharing a walk and time with me, have become significant and close in this part of my life. Now the time had come to farewell both Santiago and my new Camino friends.

We may meet many people in the course of a Camino (and life is a Camino). All make an impact on us, but a few are likely to be particularly special. On this Camino I have been especially blessed to meet, and get to know something of, a few dear people. I hope we will maintain contact (this has certainly been the case with my friends from the Camino Frances) but, for now, we must part. And, as someone once said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." So, on Sunday, I farewelled a dear friend, and on Monday others farewelled me. I am able to say that the sweetness of having met and known them was greater than any parting sorrow. As well, the optimist in me looked to the time when we might meet again.

I had also to say goodbye to Santiago. I did this from the comfort of a raliway carriage as the Madrid train pulled out of Santiago station. The city and its majestice skyline soon receded, and I was on my way to a new adventure.

After overnighting in Madrid, Tuesday brought another train journey, a faster one this time from Madrid to Sevilla. At Santa Justa station in Sevilla I somehow missed the Tourist Information, and was forced to take of, without map or any other aid, to find my hotel which was in the heart of the old city. As cold and wet as Santiago had been, Sevilla was hot and sunny. The temperature was around 30-31 degrees. I was soon lost but, aftere many requests to passers-by, about and hour-and-a-half in time, and maybe 7km of shoe leather, I found my hotel. It presented itself like an oasis in the desert. As I entered from the bustle and noise of a hot and busy street, I was overcome by the cool and calm of a shady courtyard with a fountain gently rippling water among sweet greenery. Had I entered heaven? Not yet! That´s still to come, but I´m not likely to blog it!!

When I had settled in, and recovered from the mammoth exercise of finding this place - and when I had visited the nearby Tourist Office and armed myself with a map, I had time to reflect on the extreme contrasts of these past few days. I also marvelled at the realisation that God had been with me throughout. I thank Him. Not one experience befalls me that He is not familiar with. It has been said that variety is the spice of life. God, it seems, is into variety. I´m glad of this. Having rested, I am now ready to taste of the variety He will share with me in the next little while. I have left some beautiful new friends, but I am not alone. God is with me. Hallelujah!

O Holy God, and Most Loving Father,

I have already thanked You for my new friends. I commit them to Your ongoing care.

I thank You for my safe arrival into this very different city of Sevilla. I thank You for all that awaits me here, and beyond. I give myself fully into Your care.            Amen.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Journey´s End?

Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey wherever I go.                1 Cor. 16.6

Santiago de Compostela                                         Sunday, 9th June 2013

I returned to Santiago this morning by bus from Muxia. This particular Camino (Porto to Santiago, and then Santiago to Finisterre and Muxia) came to a close mid afternoon yesterday when I strolled alongside the ocean for the last couple of kilometres into Muxia.

Walking through north east Galicia has been refreshing and replenishing. Many times I have been reminded of my native Wales. The sea, as always, invigorates me and the coastline - with its rugged headlands and hidden bays - is just wonderful. Then there is the upland country with green fields, tiny hamlets (sadly, few coffee stops) and forest ways. The weather has also created just the right atmosphere, with misty mornings, light and intermittent rain and gentle breezes.

But the environment and habitat is just part of the Camino experience. A vital aspect for me is provided by my fellow peregrinos. From Porto to Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia I have met so many kind souls and kindred spirits, from many different countries. Language has made it easier to connect with some than with others, yet the essence of the Camino seems to facilitate communion with all you meet. I have been blessed to share as I have. I feel some relationships will continue. None will be forgotten.

And so, is the journey ended? Of course not! Certainly, I have reached a destination today but, God willing, there will be many more destinations ahead of me. For me, the immediate future leads to Madrid, then to the cities and towns of the south - Seville, Cordoba, Jaen, Granada, Malaga etc. But it could so easily be (and indeed soon will be) back home and into some more normal pattern of life.

Whatever it may be, I try to look on each new day as a fesh adventure with God. I have been blessed with wonderful experiences arising out of the most ordinary circumstances. I pray for this to continue as my journey most definitely goes on.

I pray also for the ongoing journeys of my new Camino friends, and for the continuing journeys of all who may read this reflection. I would say: be open to the possibilities life holds for you. Enjoy the journey. Bon voyage!

Dear Lord,

Thank You for walking with me through this Camino. Thank You that You´re with me every day.

Thank You for the new friends I´ve made. I commit them to You, together with all my other friends - those I already know and those who may be reading this now. May we all know Your protection and guidance of us. Be with us as we continue this journey through life. Let us feel Your love, and enjoy Your blessing. Thank You. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Minor destinations

Negreira, Galicia, Spain                                 Wednesday, 5th June 2013

When deciding on this trip to Spain, I committed to walking on to Finisterre and Muxia from Santiago. Finisterre, which means Land´s End was fully believed to be the end of the world - until Columbus proved otherwise! Many pilgrims walk on to Finisterre after reaching Santiago. And so would I!

Today was the day to start, except that I did not want to. On waking, my thoughts were totally against further walking. This didn´t mean I wanted to stay in Santiago. I just didn´t want to walk on.

I had to get out of the Hospederia. I can´t leave for Seville before next Monday because my train tickets are booked. Furthermore, I have a hotel booking for tomorrow night on the way to Finisterre and I will lose the full cost if I don´t take it up. The way was clear - get up and go!

I took a replenishing breakfast before checking out of the Hospederia, then I hit the streets. My departure from Santiago was simply amazing. Though the old part of the city is a maze of streets with twists and turns and only half of the names identified on any decent map, I got onto the right track without any problem. This was good. As well, the day is glorious. It´s fine and clear, and not too hot. The way is absolutely delightful - country lanes and picturesque villages. I realise - to my chagrin - that I´m bursting with life and thoroughly enjoying myself. So, what happened?

Santiago is the culmination of many caminos originating from all over Europe. When you get there you have well and truly arrived. Perhaps to consider any extension to this is something of an anti-climax.

But I know too well that I cannot remain in Santiago, frozen in a time and experience warp. No, life goes on. And so does life´s journeys. Finisterre and Muxia may be minor destinations but, right now, they lie ahead of me. I´m taking my time on this particular walk, but I´m going to give it every bit as much focus, attention and achievement as  applied to Santiago. I cannot live only for the major destinations in life. As surely as God wants me to enjoy the way, step by step so, I believe, He wants me to give myself to the journeys to minor destinations. These can be as delightful, enjoyable and fulfilling as any major expedition.

I see a spiritual parallel to today´s insight. My true, major, all-meaningful destination in my faith walk and life is Heaven. But, unlike Santiago, I cannot determine when I shall arrive. That is totally out of my hands. I am not to dwell on this. I believe, however, that there are a number of minor destinations in God´s plan for me, and I want to give of my utmost to these journeys. Perhaps the simplest "minor destination" I can consider is to help another. Indeed, I may be placed and positioned specifically for such. I would hate to miss out because my focus is elsewhere.

I´ve already seen the need to focus on the step I´m taking right now. A similar approach applies to what might arise in my day. Do I say, "That´s not in my plan" and then dismiss it? Or do I receive it and look for any good I can effect? This is not point scoring for me. Rather, this is me following His example. May I do this, and may I enjoy every minor destination I reach.

Lord Jesus,

You brought me safely to Santiago, and I have thanked You for this. But time has moved on, and so must I. Now I thank You for the Camino Finisterre. I know that You walk with me and I value that. I pray that You will guide me to minor destinations all along this way. Lead me in the right way. Enable me, please, to honour You wherever  I may be and whatever I might do. Thank You.      Amen.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

One step at a time

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."                        Matt. 6.34

Santiago de Compostela                        Monday,3rd June 2013

Each day has invovled some climbing. It´s not exactly mountaineering, but many of the days´attempts could easily be classed as "hill climbs" especially with a loaded pack on one´s back.

I have a practice that I first utilised on the Camino Frances two years ago. I´ve revived its use for this Camino. My practice essentially is not to look up. when I look up, what I see is the arduous climb that awaits me. I feel tired just looking at it. What I also experienced on the "Frances" is that one can achieve the ascent, only to find a further climb following it.

No, I have long since given away the habit of looking up when facing a climb. Instead I look down, at my feet. I focus on the step I´m taking right now. And, of course, in no time at all, that step is followed by another. So I then focus on that one. Before I know it, I have climbed the grade and it´s generally without loss of breath. If I had done the same climb looking up, I could easily be out of breath before completing half the climb.

Some of the sights that come as we climb are truly wonderful. I´ve seen glorious sunrises and breathtaking vistas. One of the most poignant sights I came across was on Day 4 of my Camino when walking between Ponte de Lima and Rubiaes. This day involved an ascent of 405m up Alto da Portela Grande. Along this way a memorial has been erected to one, Michelle Kleist, who is described as a Camino lover who hoped to complete many caminos but who was tragically killed in a plane crash at Moree, Australia in 2011. Pilgrims have left many personal mementos and messages at this site, a very real testimony to the Camino spirit.

Today, my step-by-step journey brought me to this present destination of Santiago de Compostela. I shall stay here for two days and then my life pilgrimage continues to other places. But for now, it´s so good to be here. Many, many steps have preceded today and, God willing, I may have many more steps to come. However many I may be blessed with, I hope I can truly relish each individual step as it comes.

And this is surely God´s way for me. He tells me not to concern myself about tomorrow. If I do concern myself so then I will miss out on the present. Sometimes it takes an experience such as a Camino for us to realise and appreciate the joy of the present. But I can live for every moment wherever I am and, if the moment happens to be not so good, I remind myself that I am not alone. He is with me, and He will walk with me through it all - good and not-so-good.

Dear Lord,

It is so good to arrive in Santiago. I thank You for Your protection of me along the way. I thank You for each step I have taken and for the knowledge that You have walked with me. I commit every future step to You. May we continue the journey together.                                     Amen.  

Saturday, 1 June 2013

My brothers and my sisters

He replied to him, "Who is my mother and who are my brothers?"       Matt. 12.48

Caldas de Reis, Spain              Saturday, 1st June 2013

I follow through on my conviction with the two commands of Jesus and my application of them to this Camino.

By my fourth day of walking an interesting pattern seemed to be emerging. Days 1 and 3 I can see principally as God days. I have walked alone and have had ample time to marvel at the wonders of His creation, to give my attention to Him in thoughtful awareness, in prayer, and even in song. I pray that He will speak to me. I hope to hear something from Him of the secrets of heaven.

Days 2 and 4 I can readily describe as neighbour days. Early in day 2 I met Anna from Holland. We walked together for the rest of the day. We met Armindo and Helder, two local cyclists who stopped to wish us "Buen Camino" and to chat. They were genuinely interested to talk with us. Later we stopped for lunch at Antonio´s restaurant and met a most congenial host who fed us well, and who takes a photograph of every pilgrim who visits his establishment.

Day 4 was another day of encounters. I met a mother and daughter from Sweden, a couple from South Korea, several French pilgrims, a South African couple, and Jay and Georgia. Jay is from USA and Georgia is Greek.

As I meet and interact with all these wonderful people, they come to me as brothers and sisters. Indeed I have been  privileged already with some of the deeply personal experiences some have shared in conversation. I am reminded of my Christain family. God has blessed me with many amazing brothers and sisters in Christ. I even have sons and daughters in Him. I pray this Camino will extend my family even further. And may I be able to love them as He would have me do.

Lord God and Holy Father,

I delight in the family You have given me and which You are constantly adding to. I thank You.

I ask that You might bless the new brothers and sisters I´ve met in these days and may You add to their number as my Camino with You continues.

Recieve my love and gratitude.                                   Amen.