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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Day 6: Soto del Barco to El Pito (10 KM / 6.2 miles)

We began today’s pilgrimage in Soto del Barco, towards the towns of Era and Muros de Nalon. Outside the town of Muros, we were able to view Aguilar Beach – a gift from Costa Verde and a feast for the eyes and emotions.

We continued up to the village of El Pito where we rested before driving to the village of Cudillero, a lovely fishing village where we had lunch. Then, we went to the Figueras to reach Ribadeo by boat – the traditional route of the peregrino and will spend the night at the Parador of Ribadeo, right in front of the sea.

I don’t think I’ve yet had enough time to process all of what happened today. Earlier this morning, I learned of the death of the Rev’d Dr. Charles Rice, Episcopal priest, theologian and brilliant homiletics professor at the Theological School at Drew University in Madison, NJ.

Charles was the quintessential Southern gentleman, emphasis on gentle. He had a very quiet voice and a quiet laugh, but you never forgot when he spoke and when he laughed. I especially loved how his eyes focused or danced as he listened deeply to you.

I’ll miss him. I found myself praying for him but what came up was a memory of the Portuguese version of The Hail Mary. I remembered it in the youthful singsong way we said it as kids when I said the rosary with mia Voa (my grandmother) every morning at six. That would be A.M.

I found myself getting lost in that prayer, keeping rhythm with my steps and the click-clack sound of my walking stick. There, out in the forest path, all alone.

Except, of course, I wasn’t. It felt like a mighty cloud of witnesses joined me as I prayed and stepped and moved my walking sticks. All the saints were chanting it with me.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, I opened my mouth and found that I had started singing that wonderful South African hymn, “We Are Walking In the Light of God.” I felt suddenly lighter and freer, like the whole 6 mile walk that I had fretted over would be a piece of cake. And, it was.

When I finished my walk and came to the checkpoint, I heard one of the peregrino ask another, “Did you hear that choir singing? Wasn’t it wonderful? I wonder where the church is. Oh, it must be that church over there. What a great choir!”

I walked over to them to inquire what song they heard the choir singing. “I don’t know,” answered one as the two looked at each other quizzically. “It was something about walking in the light of God.”

I know you think I’m crazy, but somehow, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Then, we traveled to Fingueras where we were boarded a boat for Ribadeo, a beautiful seacoast town with magnificent views of the ocean and lovely homes that are part of this fishing village.

This is the traditional route of The Camino. Pilgrims take the boat across the way and continue on the route to Santiago.

This is the last of the coastal route, the last time we will have such amazing views of the ocean. The rest of The Camino is inland until we get to Santiago and continue to Finesterra.

And, it promises to rain all day tomorrow, Sunday, and into Monday.

Never mind. Today was more than sufficient for the day. Let me tell you what happened.

Once we landed, the van met us to take us for a special treat to see The Natural Cathedral. Unbeknownst to us, our guides had planned the trip carefully so we could be there at low tide, the only time the beach and Cathedral are available to walk along.

I’m hoping I can upload the pictures and video so you can get an idea of what it is like. If I can’t, please wait a few days and return to check it out. I’ll try to add them when the WiFi is better. It will totally be worth it. Promise.

So, what I saw was the kind of Cathedral only God could create. There are HUGE rock formations with caves that were created from before time.

I went in one of them with a small group of other pilgrims but suddenly, I turned around and I was all alone. I had been studying some carving in the side of the rocks. I don’t know where everyone went but I was quite alone.

I felt a small wave of anxiety and looked at my watch. Our guides had been pretty emphatic – the tide would start to come in at 2:30, and, when the tide came in, it would come in quickly. It could be dangerous, they said. So, start to leave at 2:15.

My watch said 1:50 pm. Plenty of time. And, I could see the exit. So, I relaxed and, in fact, started to giggle a bit. I felt like a little kid left alone in a cathedral. Any minute, I expected the Dean to walk in and shoo me away.

Instead, I think God showed up. Suddenly, there was this great light, streaming down from an opening way, way, way above my head. I was absolutely awestruck. The light was very bright but not blinding. There was this absolute stillness in the cave that was so filled with peace and love it made me weep.

I looked up and a few of the peregrino were looking into the cave with absolute amazement and awe. We looked at each other across this shaft of light and then, just as suddenly as it arrived, it made its departure.

None of us really knew what we had experienced but we knew it was Holy. It was not something that words – in any language – could contain. So we nodded and bowed to each other and left silently, reverently, forever changed.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Okay, she’s lost it. She’s taken one too many Aleve. Or, maybe the air is thin at that altitude.”

I’m speaking the truth to you. And, I know this much to be true: my hands are trembling as I tell you what happened to me today.

I know there are more amazing things to come over the next five days, but you know, if The Camino ended right here, right now, I would be deeply grateful and richly satisfied.

It’s raining now, softly and gently on the ocean. It had been thundering and lightening as I was writing this.

I don’t know what that was, actually.

I just know there are no coincidences.

I can’t express my gratitude that you are willing to experience this with me. So, I’ll just say what the Spanish people say: Gracias a la vida!



Lindy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I don't think it was the Aleve.

David said...

Gracias indeed.