Santiago and Finisterre

At the end of my pilgrimage I wrote several posts but shared very few pictures (and I took a lot!). Here are a few more of the best ones from those last days in Spain including a few from a vantage point that few pilgrims get to experience.

I had the privilege of staying in a monastery right across the street from the Cathedral in Santiago.  The presence of a monastic community at this site predates the construction of the cathedral and this was the original resting place of the bones of St James when the cathedral was being built.

Not only did they host me in Santiago and accept the packages I’d mailed along the way to lighten my backpack, there was also an English speaking sister who sent me encouraging emails from time to time.  I was glad to finally be able to meet her.


When she toured me through the guest wing of the monastery we stopped at the guest’s chapel.  At the entrance she gracefully knelt down and said, “Look Jesus, here is our guest.”  The spirit of Benedictine hospitality was alive and well in this sister and in this community!


I had a rather unique view of the cathedral through my tiny bedroom window:



And finally, here are a few from Finisterre:


A scandalous proposal…

January 23, 2016

Yesterday a dashing unmarried man looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want you to know we have an open situation going on here.”

It was a offer I simply couldn’t refuse.

Are you shocked? Scandalized?  You have ever right to be. Because that’s exactly what this man’s invitation was – scandalous.

But I would argue that the scandal is the fact that we are indeed scandalized by such a proposal. The scandal lies in the fact that his proposal isn’t the status quo.

Less than 24 hours after I received this invitation, we stood next to each other enveloped in incense, him in his black monk’s hood, me in a hoodie, and with all the saints who had gathered we boldly prayed these scandalous words together:

Let us pray, that Christians everywhere may heed God’s call to become one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, as we say:

Lord, make us one.

Lord, bless our brothers and sisters in the churches of the East; may they continue to enrich your church by their faith in the Holy Spirit, their love of divine liturgy, and their respect for ecclesiastical tradition.

Bless our sisters and brothers of the Anglican communion; may their experience of diversity challenge the whole church, and their treasures of language and music never cease to magnify your holy Name.

Bless our Lutheran brothers and sisters; may their love for the Scriptures and their faith in your all-sufficient grace help us all to receive your salvation as purest gift.

Bless our sisters and brothers of the Reformed tradition; may they continue to edify the church with their preaching and inspire us all by their dedicated work for your kingdom.

Bless our Methodist brothers and sisters; may their dedication to works of charity and their tradition of musical worship empower us to fulfill Christ’s two-fold commandment of love.

Bless our Mennonite brothers and sisters, especially Bridgefolk; may their commitment to the nonviolent love of Jesus help us to overcome evil with good, through patient works of reconciliation, in our church and our world.

Bless our sisters and brothers of the evangelical and free church traditions; may their warmth and enthusiasm bring new life to the work and prayer of your church.

Bless us and all Christians; may we come to that perfect oneness which you have with your Son in the unifying love of the Holy Spirit.

Let us say the prayer give by Jesus to all who believe in him…


Amen, Lord make us one.

*With thanks to the community of St John’s Abbey for their hospitality and for sharing this prayer with me. As I understand it, this is something they have been “tinkering” with for many years and at least some of the verses, like the Mennonite one, were written by Mennonite friends of the community who were invited to “say whatever they wanted to say about their own tradition.”





What I eat (ate)

*I found the first part of this post about what I ate on the Camino saved as a draft when I was updating this blog. I added some additional reflections at the bottom today before posting it.

The short answer is everything in sight. But here’s a more lyrical response:

Cafe con leche, tostadas y zumo



Tortilla, bocadilla,  tortilla

Cafe solo

Bocadilla,  tortilla, bocadilla, tortilla

Bocadilla, bocadilla, bocadilla, tortilla

Bocadilla de tortilla de patatas!

Tortilla, tortilla, tortilla, tortilla


Cerveza y olivos

Cerveza con limon


Menu del peregrino: ensalata mixta, pescado/pollo y patatas, pan, flan, agua y vinto tinto!

Post-Camino thoughts:  The food on the Camino wasn’t always the best (cheap and plentiful carbs tended to the focus) and it wasn’t always particularly traditional to Spain, but with few exceptions it always tasted good. I will leave it up to you to decide if that’s because it was always tasty or because I was always (and I mean always) hungry.

Practically speaking you can’t keep eating this way unless you’re also willing to keep walking 25+ kilometres a day but there are a few things that I’ve incorporated into my regular menu at home.

You’d think I would be sick of tortilla but in fact it’s the first thing I learned to make when I got back home. I think I can now make one that’s about as good as any I had at a roadside cafe, but mine still don’t compare to the few I enjoyed that were made by locals in their homes – there is an art to this dish.

It turns out you can buy Spanish beer in Canada but I don’t like it anymore. I guess I need to walk 25kms to develop the taste for it. And sadly, while Fanta is available, lemon Fanta (the only kind worth drinking) is not.  Glowing yellow liquor with herbs is no where to be found, but that might be a good thing. Vinto tinto, however, is easy enough to procure.  And yes, I chill it.

One of the first things I learned to say in Spain was “no jamon!” -Spain makes wonderful pork products, but it’s really not necessary to include them in EVERY SINGLE DISH. Now I’m willing to try the odd dish with ham or chorizo again and proper Spanish paprika is a staple in my kitchen.  Although Basque cider is also not something I’ve been able to find I’ve managed a passible chorizo with local cider instead.  Serve that with a tortilla and some fresh bread and you’ve got a meal fit for a Queen.

I haven’t as of yet learned to make a proper caldo gallego, but it’s on the list (people with good recipes, please share!) and while I did have one good Castillian soup, I also had enough bad ones that I’d need a serious bout of inspiration to be willing to try making my own.

And I stuck to my practice of being willing to try anything once so in addition to Spanish dishes with ingredients I recognized on this trip I also had rabbit and pulpo for the first, and last times.

Bon appetit!

Pulpo before…


Pulpo after…






Zumo (isn’t this the best word?!?!), cafe con leche, and bocadilla de tortilla de patatas




A different kind of pilgrimage


There was a distinct moment in time when there was a shift in my language about the Camino and it happened in 2013 at St John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN. It was the moment I switched from talking about “if I could walk the Camino in 2015,” to saying “when I walk the Camino in 2015.” At roughly the same time as I shifted my language, I also added an additional piece of information to that dream, “and it would be great to return from Santiago and spend a few months writing at the Collegeville Institute.”

The plan to spend four consecutive months on sabbatical did not turn out to be possible, but I did indeed manage to create a sabbatical in two parts. I’ve been at the Collegeville Institute since early January and I couldn’t be happier that things have worked out the way that they have.

It probably shouldn’t have been surprising, although it was, that being back at St John’s has led me to reflect more deeply on my Camino experience and in the next few weeks you can expect to find a combination of reflections on the Camino as well as a few pieces on my current experience on this blog.

For example, I have discovered a few draft posts I began but never completed when I was on the Camino and I will be finishing and posting them over the course of the next month.

It may also not be surprising that when I was on the Camino it was a helpful part of the integration process to write the regular blog posts I shared with you whereas here, when my daily task is to pray, read, research, and write, that instead of writing at the end of the day, I want to take a walk.

It’s a different kind of pilgrimage, but it’s a pilgrimage none-the less.



Jump To A Specific Post

Click on a link to go to a specific post:

An Evolving Story

So this arrived in the mail today…

And the story continues to evolve…

Portrait of a Pilgrim

Pilgrim Blessing

The Littlest Hobo

What’s in my backpack?

Look out Paris, Here I come!

Paris, Day 1

Paris, Day 2

Looking for signs along the way (Paris, Day 3)

Paris, Day 4

Camino Day 1: Bayonne to St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson

Day 2: Orisson to St Michel

Day 3: St. Michel to Roncesvalles

Day 4: Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Day 5: Zubiri to Pamplona

Day 6: Pamplona

Day 6 Cont’d: Pamplona in the evening

Day 7: Pamplona to Zariquiegui

Day 8: Zariquiegui to Maneru

C’est La Camino

Day 9: Maneru to Estella

Days 10-11: Two Days in Logrono

Day 12: Logrono to Navarette

Some thoughts on the unfortunate events in Astorga -Rabanal

Day 13: Navarette to Najera

Day 14: Najera to Santa Domingo de la Calzada

Day 15: Santa Domingo to Belorado

On feet

Day 16: Belorado to Villafranca de Montes de Oca

Day 17: Villafranca to Ages

The best reasons I have heard (so far) for walking the Camino

Day 18: Ages to Burgos

Day 19: Burgos Day 2

Burgos Day 2: Part 2

Day 20: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino

Day 21: Hornillos to Castrojeriz

On Music

Day 22: Castrojeriz to Fromista

Day 23: Fromista to Carrion de los Condes

Day 24: Carrion de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza

Day 25: Calzadilla de la Cueza to Puerta de Sahagun

Day 26: Sahagun to Leo

Day 27: Leon: “Rest Day”

Day 28: Leon to Molinaseca

Day 29: Molinaseca to Cacabelos

Day 30: Cacabelos to Vega de Valcarce

Day 31: Vega de Valcarce to Biduedo

Day 32: Biduedo to Sarria

Day 33: Sarria to Portomarin

Day 34: Portomorin to Palas de Rei

Day 35: Palais de Rei to Arzua

Day 36: Arzua to Pedrouzo

Day 37: Pedrouzo to Santiago

Day 38: Finisterre

A Different Kind of Pilgrimage

What I eat(ate)

A Scandalous Proposal

Santiago and Finisterre



Today I took a bus to the end of the world and took a short (15kms) walk on the beach. This is the Atlantic, my ocean. Somewhere, on the other side, people I love are also looking out at these same waters.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey in some way – it is not over and I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.   

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

                                  Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles.”

Pedrouzo to Santiago

Get up, get ready and get going (by this time it takes me about 5 minutes to get entirely ready from my ankles to the top of my head, and then about 20 more minutes for foot prep.)

Leave when it is still dark. Walk walk walk walk walk. Walk faster. Talk to people but don’t stop. Everyone is excited. Everyone is ready to get to Santiago. The Way is filled with pilgrims (where did all these people come from?)

Arrive to the sound of bag pipes and the cheers of your friends who arrived just before you. Take time to soak it all in.

But not too much time – find the pilgrim office, line up and get your Compostela, find a place to store your mochila (Margery is not allowed in the cathedral), and get to the noon mass! (You have walked a long way to go to church after all.)

Hear the priest say in Spanish that today they welcome a peregrina from Canada who started in St Jean. Hear the gospel reading about the old and the new law. Say to yourself, as you have a thousand times before, that it will be OK if they do not use the Botafumeiro.

But cry tears of joy when they do.

Arzua to Pedrouzo

I am almost finished with the Book of John, just two more stages left.   Last night I stayed in an amazing 18th century pazo that has been turned into a hotel. (A pazo is an 18th century Galician style of manor home/community.)It’s more like a little village than a single family dwelling.




I finally found out what these are -horreos – they are everywhere and they are used for drying corn and other crops. (While keeping it out of the reach of hungry animals.)   


I had a short walk today (20kms) and I was making amazing time in the morning and then suddenly I realized it’s my last day on the Camino (walking into Santiago is an event in itself I think) and suddenly you couldn’t make me walk faster than a tortuga (turtle). I stopped in every cafe and took long breaks and just savoured the walk.

I am not informed enough to comment that intelligently about farming but I love the idea of a small scale farming mentality that says putting a couple of cows on an empty lot in the middle of the town is worthwhile.

And from a gorgeous historic hotel  with a single room (and bathtub!) to an equally lovely modern 40 person hostel.  (That’s 20 bunkbeds in one room with 2 toilets for everyone.) A classic way to spend my last night on the Camino.  (And unless it changes tonight – and I don’t think it will – the bed bug count is still zero!)