As I woke up this morning a cool westerly breeze funneled through our open window, blowing the steam off my coffee in the direction of my down jacket, which I then reached for. Tufts of mist were clinging to the hillsides, a nearby rooster was announcing the day, and Robin was stirring in the other room. It always starts this way, a seemingly ordinary day. The joy of this volunteer work we are doing with the Camino Chaplaincy is that each day arrives with its own new rewards. Today awaits but yesterday's joy has already been delivered. Our presider at mass, was Fr. Juan Carlos, a Venezuelan priest who relieves Fr. Joe on Wednesday's, to give him a day off. He is a delightful human being and a passionate priest. When you leave his mass you are definitely smiling, because his faith and warmth are both genuine and infectious. We usually go for a coffee or get something to eat after mass but yesterday was a bit of a shopping day so we headed off into the new town (outside the medieval city walls) and roamed the shopping district picking up a bit of this and that. Robin finally had to eat so we stopped at a Chinese restaurant we had previously discovered and had lunch. We had been invited to dinner last night by some friend's we know through the Camino Chaplaincy. As it turns out we spotted a florist as we turned the corner heading for the restaurant so after lunch in we went to pick up a small plant as a gift. Now with lunch aboard and the plant in a sack we made our way home to rest a bit and gather some thoughts for evening prayer which Robin and I would lead later this evening.
Sr. Marion and Sr. Katherine
I am finding that I can get used to the siesta approach to life. A bit of a mid afternoon break just seems right these days and it does provide some quite time to reflect or have a beer or perhaps both. Before we knew it we were heading out the door to the Cafe Tertulia for a couple of cortados (small coffees) before heading up the hill to the cathedral to open our chapel and prepare for evening prayer. This is a nice time of day to be in the cathedral. It is usually not too busy and I am able to find a quiet spot to gather my thoughts. It is also a perfect time to clean everything up from the morning mass. Evening prayer came and it was remarkable. We only had three plus Robin and I and two of the three were not Roman Catholics but Mennonites from Canada. In our chapel all are welcomed and it turned out to be a very positive experience for all who gathered, especially our Mennonite friends. We then straightened up the chapel to get it ready for the next morning's mass, turned off the lights, slid the bolt in the heavy iron gate, turned the key in the lock and headed off to the sacristy to drop off the key. Leaving the cathedral we stepped into the Plaza Inmaculada and turned uphill to the Plaza Cervantes. It was a right turn there and down a few doors to entrance of the apartment where friends and a home cooked meal awaited us. Sr. Katherine, and Sr. Marion are nuns with the order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ). They both are involved in another pilgrim outreach program called Camino Companions. They provide one on one conversations, and spiritual direction to arriving pilgrims who have reached out for help. They do fine work and are quite good at bringing some peace to the troubled pilgrims who have sought them out.
Our dinner was both delicious and bountiful, but it was the time we spent talking over the meal and afterwards that made the evening such a wonderful experience. It has been quite dry in Santiago, but last night the rain just pelted down as we ate and talked. We all agreed at around 10:30 that we had better head off to bed. The rain was still hammering down. The streets were awash as we made our goodbyes, popped our umbrellas, and stepped out into the storm. Our walk home was all downhill and the medieval streets, being all stone, simply invite the water to just course along, finding the path of least resistance. This path usually happens to be just where you have to walk. The streets were pretty much deserted, as we made our way footfall by footfall looking for the driest path in the flowing stream. But, with all that, it was indeed beautiful. The old city, was showing well with streams of water cascading from every possible place where water could gather. This was all set off off by the soft glow of street lamps and made for a very intimate and enjoyable walk home. We arrived home a bit damp, but none the worse for wear. The joy of it all broke over us we shared a glass of wine before bed. It was indeed a beautiful day.