Monday, September 25, 2017

On pilgirmage

Any blog posts are likely to be single photos for the next month; I don't know how much connectivity or communicative energy I'll have, but walking 321 km is sure to teach me much as well as take a lot out of me.

Tend your souls; resist and protect much.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Just when I was weaning myself off football . . .

This was last year. Now the Cheeto seems to have declared a culture war on the brave athletes of the NFL standing up for themselves, free speech, and Black lives. Guess I'll have to pay attention to the national game again. Thanks Colin!

Basque Country welcomes refugees

In keeping with the generally sophisticated design consciousness in Bilbao and environs, Euskara-speaking activists have redesigned the familiar fleeing family on these banners. The image hangs on private houses and some public buildings. The ongoing tragedy of refugee drownings in the Mediterranean feels very close here. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stubborn for earth and sustainability


The mountainous hills and valleys north of Burgos where Spain's long river Ebros arises are breathtakingly lovely.  

The people who live there want to keep it that way.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

The bear and the madrone

The heraldic emblem of the city of Madrid as it appears on manhole covers throughout the city. 

The city's bear as created out of aluminum foil by a cheerful Metro artist. He gave it to EP in response to her interest.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hints of civilization


The Palacio de Cibeles is the seat of the City Council of Madrid.

Within, the better part of one floor was devoted to an exhibit about the history of LGBT struggle in Spain. That struggle has been part of the wider movement to restore democracy after the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975 and has achieved a remarkable turnaround in social attitudes in a conservative country. 

All very heartening on a day when a U.S. president blustered before the world, threatening to annihilate a country of 25 million people ...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The iconography of the pilgrim: part 2 -- Saint James


In Santiago, we visited the Museum of Pilgrimage. This excellent institution grapples with the different representations of St. James -- as Apostle, Crushing Caballero of Christian Spain or Matamoros, and Pilgrim. In the early iteration above, he carries the book and is shoeless as is proper for an apostle, but also wears the hat and carries the shell for scooping water and the pack (or sporran) of a humble pilgrim. 


By the Renaissance, St. James the Pilgrim had acquired an intercessory cult, attached to the Camino, the Way

  .
The very different features of these two representations of the saint provide a glimpse into the history of the peoples of the Iberian peninsula and particularly of Spain itself. In Roman times and through the period of Islamic rule, the region was as much tied to North Africa and beyond as to Northern Europe. There is no reason to believe that Spainards were monochromatically "white" or as we might say today "European" in appearance. That changed as the militant Christian Reconquista seized the whole land and expelled Others, Jews and Muslims.


In some eras the saint, though still bearing the staff of a pilgrim, became quite regal.

In this contemporary mural in a remote hostel in Galicia, St. James has become a welcoming almost Santa-like friend.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Repurposed signage


The image on this banner in Santiago might seem familiar to some Californians. The fleeing family used to appear on freeway signs near San Diego, warning drivers not to run over unauthorized immigrants. 

Here it reads "Welcome Refugees" in the Galician language. Somebody has a heart. 

Arrival in Santiago de Compostela

Arrival was less an event than a process for this pilgrim. We walked into the city Thursday night, having completed the 334 kilometers (over 200 miles) from Oviedo. The Cathedral of St. James looms over the old city. We felt "zombified" at that moment; the hard flagstones, the crowds of tourists, the residual physical strains, left us ready for nothing but sleep.


In the morning we were ready to complete the "business" of pilgrimage: standing in line along with hundreds of other pilgrims from all the various routes to receive our Compostelas, the Latin certificate affirming we had completed the walk we set ourselves. 
Outside the Pilgrim Reception Office, a charming Irish nun offered me the text of a prayer.

We thank you, God, for bringing us safely here and for the many blessings and gifts of our pilgrimage. 


The company and kindness of strangers, the beauty of the way, the joy of traveling light, the strength to go on even in difficulties are reminders of your presence within us and among us. 


Now that we have arrived, we remember all our loved ones, especially those who have been in our hearts and minds as we walked the Camino. As we return home, give us courage to live in the spirit of the Camino so that we make this world a more loving and peaceful place for everyone. 


We make our prayer through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen.


She also offered a suggestion for where to eat dinner. She was spot on.


In the evening we attended the pilgrim mass at the Cathedral. Remarkably, for this Episcopalian, in that gold encrusted setting, the theme - expressed through women liturgical leaders and by the presiding priest's homily - was as much the redeeming power of the Mater Dolorosa who shares human sorrows as her son's redemptive sacrifice. You never know what you will encounter in a church.




This sunset on the plaza as we emerged seemed a fitting close to an intense day.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Friday cat blogging

Watching the river of pilgrims go by.

Close to Santiago de Compostela, the trickle swells to a human flood. 

In the background of both pictures are Galician horreos, graneries, used to dry corn for cattle feed. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

For the Day of the Holy Cross


In many Christian traditions, September 14 marks the (mythologized) story of the discovery of the True Cross by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, in 326 C.E. and the relic's installation in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (Various Christians have been fighting over this site's possession and meaning ever since.)

This powerful 14th century stone cross sits adjacent to the chapel of San Rogue in Melide, Galicia, where the Camino Primitivo merges with the better known pilgrimage route, the Camino Frances. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pilgrims on the road through Galicia


The Way of St. James -- the "Original Path" or Camino Primitivo -- proceeds under big skies,

past carefully tilled fields,

along forest paths,

over rocky high places,

 under glorious sunrises,


and through the ever-threatening Galician drizzle. 

We have less than 50k and two more days walking before we reach our goal, Santiago de Compostela. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Such a peaceful figure


We asked ourselves on passing this modern "San Jorge" at a roadside spring, is this also the Buddha?

Friday, September 08, 2017

Pilgrims pause in a Roman, modern, and woman affirming city


We've just spent a couple of rest days in Lugo, once Lucas Augusti, a city proud of its Roman origins. 


Its intact Roman wall encircles the old city. 


Outside the wall there's a bustling modern city. 


Meanwhile, the local high end Galician brew (excellent) has a feminine tilt ...


And the city harbors some kick-ass feminists.

On the road to Santiago again tomorrow. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Friday cat blogging from the Camino Primativo

  


Yes, the little black critter is a dog, but it is not hard to see who runs this yard.  

About DACA, immigration, politics, and racial panics

Let’s interrupt this pilgrimage to share some resources for under-informed but well-meaning friends who sense that Trump has committed a moral atrocity by ending DACA. If we do not live in physical proximity to the daily struggles of our immigrant neighbors, authorized and unauthorized, immigration “policies” can seem remote and impenetrable. They can even seem incomprehensible if we do have vulnerable friends!
In 1994 life threw me into an organizing role in California’s version of Trump’s DACA atrocity, Prop. 187 which denied unauthorized immigrant children access to education and publicly funded healthcare. It wasn’t hard to help people put their outrage in motion; folks were ready to go! But concurrently I remember running around asking everyone with more experience: “Explain ‘immigration’ please.” By and large they couldn’t offer any complex sense of how we got to this awful point and how this “system” worked. 
Today there are many resources to help those of us who don’t know the ins and outs of US immigration policies and our history of race panics. Here is a short list of different sorts:


Podcast on the politics of how DACA became policy.  Unsparing of both Dems and GOPers. 



Sunday, September 03, 2017

A few ancient chapels along the way

   

  

    
Today we crossed both the halfway point and the border between Asturias and Galicia. We walk, we wash, we eat, we sleep. The life of a peregrino is both repetitive and full. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The iconography of the pilgrim


This statue of St. James, Santiago, on the outskirts of Oviedo is a modern rendering of the traditional motif of the peregrino. The sculptor is a woman; perhaps she envisioned a gentle staff bearing figure?


This rather sweet rendering was on the wall of a hostel, an albergue. 


At the same hostel, official signage included this very contemporary pilgrim. 


In Tineo one Camino neighbor had created this very contemporary figure along the way. The rain jacket might come in handy; we walked four hours in the rain yesterday, not as bad as it sounds. We plod on, happily.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Scenes from the Camino Primativo


Pilgrims on the way from Grado to El Fresno. 


Sunrise over Grado. 


Asturias is long on mists and mountains. 


Also churches -- this one is pre-Romanesque... a UNESCO world heritage site. 


And the residue of battles and human striving. 

We have walked 52K so far, much further to go. 
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