Buen Camino

It is the greeting that all pilgrims on the Way make to one another ‘Buen Camino’, ‘Have a good Way’. It is always said in Spanish and in just two words says it all. Everyone you meet on the Way is there to the same end. Why they are making the pilgrimage will vary, but they have the same goal, the end of the journey, the shrine of St James.

Pilgrims at the first Camino marker

Pilgrims at the first Camino marker

Following lunch we got on the coach and headed out to Roncesvalles. Just beyond this lovely little village we got off the coach and began just a short walk back to the church. We were on the Camino at last and there was a real sense of excitement and arrival. The markers reassured us we were on the right path as we made our way through forests and by streams. The only sounds were the chatter of pilgrims, the water running in the streams and the birds singing. It was extremely lovely.

When we arrived back in Roncesvalles we got ready for the Eucharist. The church is beautiful and it was a real privilege to preside at the Eucharist there. We sang ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty’, well, Trinity Sunday wouldn’t be the same without it. We were joined by two other pilgrims – Australians – they had been looking for an English Mass and we happened by. It was good to share with them.

At the end of the Eucharist one of the pilgrims, Rachel, presented us with special pilgrim biscuits that she had baked. It was a tradition on Angelsey, which is where she now lives, to make these biscuits for pilgrims to Santiago, marked with the shell, which they would pack and eat on the way. They were sustenance for the journey. The problem was that, like ships biscuits, they were hard. The ones she made for us were soft and delicious.

Keith leaving a prayer stone on a Camino marker

Keith leaving a prayer stone on a Camino marker

Having been sustained by the sacrament in the eucharist we then ate the biscuits and set off again on the walk. It was 5km this time to Espinal. That name means ‘Hawthorn’ and we saw many of those trees on the way along the path. We crossed streams and climbed a hill before coming into the village. It was a great walk and a lovely end to the day. We had been walking where countless pilgrims had trod – we were beginning to feel like pilgrims.

David, Janys, Mark and Moira, the Yorkshire contingent

David, Janys, Mark and Moira, the Yorkshire contingent

On the way back I received a text from the group of walkers, they were well and enjoying the walk and they too had been to Mass.

The walkers attend Mass at the church in Pontedeume

The walkers attend Mass at the church in Pontedeume

There is something about community about being on the way and, of course, the Feast of the Holy Trinity is about community. God is in relationship, interdependent, coexistent. Just as we are, so is God, in this divine relationship of love into which even we are drawn.

Sister Joyce ended the evening with Night Prayer and reflected on the signs we had seen on the way and the constant request of the disciples to Jesus to ‘give us a sign’. She said that we look for a sign but sometimes it is hard to discern. She left us with a quote from W H Auden from his poem ‘The Meditation of Simeon’

‘The distresses of choice are our chance to blessed’

If we are at a crossroads, choose a path. God will be there on the Way.

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