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Spring Camino 24 May 2013: An Ecumenical Encounter

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Love, Peace, Joy on the Camino

I met Dan McCarthy last Autumn – or Fall as Dan from Rhode Island would call it, when I was walking the Camino Francais. On May 6 2013 Dan left home to walk El Camino de Santiago for the tenth time. Having tried but failed to set up a blog for this landmark Camino he decided to share his journey by email. I have loved Dan’s insights and am honoured that he agreed to allow me to guest edit his entries and share them here on my Crossing Frontiers blog. Dan started on the Camino El Norte but after 7 arduous days switched back to the Camino Francais.

Pentacost Sunday, which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles 40 days after the Resurrection was on 19 May this year in 2013. On 24 May Dan in his own words:

On Pentecost Sunday I stayed in an albergue which was made up of several large rooms in a huge several centuries old stone monastery, Abadia they call it, of Cistercian nuns, monjas in Spanish. It was a day of grace.

On signing in the hospiteleira asked me if I was a priest. A bit taken aback I asked her why she thought so. The tradition of the indelible mark sort of shook me in this ancient holy place. She said she did not know why she thought so. I did acknowledge my past. Whether for that reason or not I was assigned a choice room, a small room with 3 single beds,no bunks, while the rest crawled into uppers and lowers in the cavernous dormitories.

Sometime later the hospitaliera came to sort of ask my permission to assign the remaining 2 beds to a married couple Kirk and Sue from Oklahoma. They worked for a Methodist mission society recruiting volunteers for missions in South America.

I found Sue and Kirt to be very bright and witty. The bathroom in this place was co-ed with a couple of shower stalls on one side and toilet stalls on the other. As any pilgrim will tell you taking a shower in one of these places, while keeping your clothes dry and your dignity in tact requires a bit of acrobatics and some contortionism. In my phone booth size shower stall I undressed and carefully placed my clothes on the floor outside the stall door to keep them dry. For some reason wall hooks are quite unknown in many albergues. Shower done, but tyle floor wet with soapy water, conscious of modesty, quickly opened the stall door and tried to modestly retrieve my cloths only to lose my footing and go rocketing through the door out into the middle of the bath room. Sue in the next stall yelled “Dan are you all right?” to which I immediately answered, “Yes” and scrambled back into stall cloths in hand.

Later Sue said that she was so thankful I answered so quickly. “I was in no condition to rescue you” she said. “Well”, says I, “I was in no condition to be rescued.” So I guess there are limits to ecumenical brotherly (or sisterly) help, even on Pentecost in the Abadia.

Later Sue said wouldn’t it have been an awful way to end 10 Caminos…I broke my leg in the shower! At least there was ecumenical humor at the Abadia on Pentecost.

You can contact Dan on daniel_m_02921@yahoo.com

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