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Day 6 in Logrono

Greetings from Logrono on the sixth day of my Camino pilgrimage. So far it has been an extraordinary experience in so many ways. To start with the weather has been delightful with generally bright sunny days with no rain or wind, so far! The temperature has been cool at the start of the day and then rises to being warm to hot in the afternoon.

The highlight of the time has been the people I have had the chance to talk to along the way. People from so many countries and backgrounds, ages and reasons for doing this pilgrimage. The banner on my backpack has been the link to some very interesting conversations. I have been abused only once but was challenged about politicizing the spiritual pilgrimage of the Camino. That led to some interesting discussions about what the spiritual nature of the pilgrimage is and where justice and treating people equally fits into spirituality. I have had the opportunity to talk about Bethlehem University and the context in which it exists. Most people are unaware that there is such a university and have a very one-sided view of the context.

I began the pilgrimage in Pamplona and since then have taken over 200,000 steps! There are many more to come! On the first day I climbed to the top of El Perden, a mountain about ten km outside of Pamplona, where there is the series of sculptures representing the pilgrims who have walked the path over centuries. It is also recognised as a place where God’s forgiveness becomes apparent in the pilgrims’ willingness to climb the steep mountain. Essentially the main point is to forgive oneself and then get on with life!

There were villages I passed through with often some amazing churches. In some of the larger towns there were several huge churches. This morning, here in Logrono I went to mass in the Cathedral and then within a hundred meters of each other visited four other churches. I am amazed at the size, but also the delicate and intricate nature of the depiction of biblical stories and lives of the saints. These churches go back to the Middle Ages when so many people who came to church were illiterate and so what they saw was able to be used to tell the essential stories of their faith.

The countryside through which I have walked has been a great reflection of God’s creations. I remind myself so often of what Dan Hines in a Parker Palmer retreat I was on many years ago kept emphasizing: “I am here. Here I am. Right here, right now!” Over the years it has helped me to focus on the immediate experience I am having: recognizing the sounds I hear, what I am seeing, what I am feeling as I walk, the smell of the pine forests or whatever. It is being mindful of where I am and I have found it a great way to focus on the way God is being revealed to me.

Having the time to reflect while walking has led me to realize, yet again, how blessed I have been. I have reflected on and talked about some of these blessings through my lifetime. What wells up within me in doing that is a great sense of gratitude for those blessing. Among the most obvious ones at present is the blessing of the past fifteen years that I spent at Bethlehem University. Hence my willingness to do my small effort to support the students there.

Thanks to all those people who are beginning to support this project and assist students at Bethlehem University to get a tertiary education.

Best wishes and thanks.

Brother Peter

To stand in solidarity with Bethlehem University students, as Brother Peter is doing via the Camino, please click here to support.