A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Friday, 18 January 2008

The Clarity Of Parables

Ten years ago, I walked the breadth of northern Spain along the Way of St James, the ancient and arduous pilgrimage route that leads to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St James the Apostle are said to rest in the cathedral crypt. The 500-mile, month-long journey, I have increasingly come to realize, was a seminal event in my life. Along the pilgrimage trail, episodes and encounters unfolded with the clarity of parables. I was variously taken in by shepherds, gypsies, country priests, and nuns under vows of silence. I was shut out by one of the archbishop's underlings. I walked through unsullied landscapes of immense beauty and the dark, labyrinthine medieval quarters of Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon. I encountered living saints and misanthropes. I harvested apples and olives, joined a wedding party, and nursed a vagabond through a particularly vicious bout of delirium tremens. But more than anything else, I had the opportunity to reflect and to meditate. The Way of St James was not only a taxing physical journey, but a spiritual exercise.

From Nicholas Shrady's Sacred Roads: Adventures from the Pilgrimage Trail (1999)


Amawalker said...

Solitude is necessary and often welcome but there are times when we need com-pan-eros, the ones we eat bread with. Bread is so evident at Spanish meals, not only those wonderful bocadillos, but the bread that comes with everything you eat. As the Spaniards say “Com pan y vino, ande el camino”. With bread and wine we walk the camino! A companion is someone we share bread with, not just the edible type but also the bread of our experiences and the many insights, revelations and learnings that we consume as we walk along the Way.
My wish for you is a com-pan-ero who can share your rambles in comfortable silence but with meaningful sharing.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much for dropping by. I'm looking forward very much to reading your Camino blog at my leisure. Catch up with my Le Puy - St Jean section and you'll see that I had a companion solidly for the 1st 10 days... And during the Camino Frances I was constantly meeting up with pilgrims and sharing part of the journey with them (not so many around in Nov/Dec though!) See my post 'Together And Alone' for my thoughts on walking alone and travelling in company...

Rebrites@yahoo.com said...

... I am amazed to see Nicholas Schrady writing about " Spiritual Journeys.¨ I knew he´d done the Camino, but the Nicholas Schrady I worked with was, well... not a nice guy. Not at all.

Maybe I misjudged him. Or maybe he had a delayed reaction to the camino experience, and it sneaked up on him years later?

Surprise surprise.

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, obviously I can't comment on him on a person - I've only read his book.But,as with many authors, a gift for an averagely good writing style can hide a multitide of sins!