Sunday, June 12, 2016

Always grateful

Pope Francis praying the Angelus in St. Peter's Square
It has been awhile since I have posted, and I wanted to tie in our time in Rome, and now in Santiago, to what has been previously said. It is a coolish cloudy Sunday afternoon in Santiago. There is that lazy weekend feel to the day. My favorite local hangout, the Cafe Tertulia, has been filled with folks just passing the time of day and enjoying a break from whatever jobs or tasks await them when another work week begins tomorrow. I am sitting here late in the afternoon enjoying a beer while reflecting on this latest journey of ours. I sort of left things hanging as we approached Rome on the Way of St. Francis. I will now try to fill in the time between then and now.  Our arrival in Rome was not by foot but by train from Monterotundo. We could have managed to walk those last two days but in the end after that acknowledging that long transits through cluttered suburbs and industrial estates were not much to our liking, we hopped the train into town. In part our decision was also abetted by my previously posted comment that Assisi had seemed to us to be the sought after destination and not Rome. So, now in Rome we found our hotel, near the Vatican, reclaimed some stored clothes and shifted from pilgrim to something else, not tourists per se but something in between. We had a few days to fill so we set out to catch up with the daughter of our host in Ponticelli. She and a friend were visiting her father's home in Ponticelli when Robin and I booked in for the night. She has a nice restaurant just off the Via Veneto, and we set a course for there as well as another small restaurant where her friend worked as a chef. Both turned out to be fun experiences, and the bonus was the wonderful meals we enjoyed. The days quickly filled with long walks through quieter neighborhoods, and visiting a plethora of beautiful churches. The Saint Ignatius church was particularly stunning and we made a point to return to attend mass there. And so our time in Rome slipped quietly by and soon we were headed to the airport to catch a direct flight to Santiago.  Santiago has a special place in our hearts. We have had many wonderful Camino experiences and have been blessed to have entered Santiago after completing several of them. In turn Santiago has become so familiar it almost seems like a second home. Even the climate matches up to ours in the Pacific Northwest. All along this extended journey we have been looking forward to this month we are spending volunteering at Camino Chaplaincy at the cathedral. We settled into apartment life, stocked the kitchen, caught up with all our colleagues and generally felt as though we had never left. Familiar faces constantly appeared and in many cases said hello and welcome back. Our life here is simple. Each morning we start off at the Cafe Tertulia with a coffee for me and tea for Robin. Fifteen minutes later we are ascending Rua de Hortas towards the cathedral where we generally arrive just prior to 9:30 am to set up the Capila de la Señora de Soledad for morning mass at 10:30. Robin sets about wiping off the dust that this ancient chapel presents as a daily offering. I attend to the altar and together we welcome pilgrims and visitors who start to arrive shortly after 10:00. At the conclusion of mass there is some tidying up so we are ready for the following day's mass. Generally by 11:30 the heavy iron bolt slides across the gate and the old key turns in the lock as it has for generations and we exit amongst the throngs gathering for daily pilgrim mass at 12:00. It is a curiously rewarding experience as faith encounters the Camino experience in a endless variety of ways. Each day we are privileged to be part of the pilgrim community gathering in our chapel. There are always poignant moments when hearts are unburdened, and the often raw emotions of the Camino journey find a place for safe release. Many are the thanks that we receive for this chapel offering an English language mass, and it is just this positive affirmation off what we all do here in the Camino Chaplaincy that makes us ever grateful for being able, in some small way, to make arrival in Santiago a memorable experience for a great many pilgrims.  Happy at "work" in Santiago.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilca
Sunday mass near St. Peter's
Our neighborhood in Santiago
Drum club rocking Platerias
Day trip to Muxia

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