Sitting in the cell with Madiba… Proper 11*

So this past Sunday I totally wrote my sermon on next week’s epistle (Romans 8:26-39), rather than the text assigned for the day. Whoops. I owned up to it before I began, I am thankful to be serving such a wonderful and understanding group of people.

Proper 11 – Sitting in the cell with Madiba

Calvary Episcopal Church

20 July 2014

 

This past Friday would have been Nelson Mandela’s 96th birthday; people around the world celebrated Mandela day. It was easy to miss this amongst the horrific news headlines; over 300 dead in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, 298 killed in the tragic attack on Malaysian flight 17, and ISIS continues its march across Iraq forcing the last Christians from the city of Mosul. Last December we were driving from Austin, Texas to my mom’s farm in Indiana on the day of Madiba’s funeral. Leaders from across the globe gathered to pay their respect to a man who changed the course of history. Without the leadership and witness of Madiba, Apartheid may still be the norm in South Africa.

Before his death I cannot recall hearing Nelson Mandela referred to as Madiba, but upon his death it was everywhere. Madiba was his family name; it was used in intimate circumstances, its use shows respect and affection.[1] It is a way of breaking down the barrier between such a giant of a human and us. Madiba. As I was driving and listening to the funeral on the BBC World Service, I remember thinking to myself that the world is worse off without Madiba. There are not many people who could spend almost thirty years in prison and emerge without hate. I do not know about you, but I find anger welling up inside of me during my drive home, as I think that each minute spent stuck at this stupid light is one less minute that I will spend with my family before the day is over.

As I look at the violence in our world, I long for the witness of a Madiba. Where is Madiba when we need him in Gaza? Where is Madiba when we need him in the Ukraine? Where is Madiba when we need him on the US/ Mexico border? 52,000 children have been caught crossing the border since last October. 52,000 and those are the ones who were caught. A short-lived ceasefire in Gaza has turned into a full on ground assault by the Israeli Defense Forces. A war begun when three children were murdered, then another was murdered in response, then rockets were fired, then even more rockets were fired, and then the tanks began their march. Women and children are not spared in this conflict. Last Thursday a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down as it flew over eastern Ukraine. 298 men, women, and children lost their lives and for what?

Many of those aboard were on their way to the International AIDS Society Conference. These people had dedicated their lives to serving others and to searching for a cure for a deadly disease. Yesterday morning I read a news story about a Christian community in Iraq that had been given until noon the next day to leave the area. I do not think I have to say what was going to happen to them if they did not leave. A community that has existed in this location for 1,700 years is now running for its life, praying for the day when peace will come and they can return to their home.

As I think about all of that, I want to crumble to the ground under the weight of the oppression of others, the oppression of our brothers and sisters across creation. With so much violence and hate in the world, I am not even sure how to pray. How do we keep hoping when faced with a world filled with such tragedies? If we can force ourselves to step back from the edge for just a moment to clear our minds of worry, and to listen for God, we can find a way forward. The curse of being blessed with so much power is that we forget from whence our power comes. Our power is not ours and it does not come from us. I imagine as Madiba sat in that isolated cell on Robben Island, that this confusion was made clearer for him. He had no power other than what God had given to him and he could do no good works other than those that God did through him.

Our dear Apostle Paul spent time in prison also. In his letter to the Romans he wrote words that are perfectly fitting for our situation this day. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”[2] In these moments when the world is too overwhelming for words to come, we cannot fear or lose heart. Our God will strengthen us in our weakness; the Spirit will intercede on our behalf. Now that does not mean that we can give up our prayer lives, it means that we must commit ourselves to prayer even more fully, but we must let go of the worry about praying in the correct way.

The act of coming to God in prayer is infinitely more important than the words that come forth from our lips. If all we can manage is a sigh, that is enough; the Spirit will give wings to our prayers. As we sit and bemoan the fact that we cannot affect the tumultuous times in this world, we must take comfort in the fact that God is with us in our pain. God weeps with us. God will never let us be separated from God’s love. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[3]

Before too long another prophet will rise from among our midst. Will God send Madiba back to us? Archbishop Tutu joked about this last week; “God has just called Madiba to say… ‘I am thinking seriously of sending you back there, but no, I’ve changed my mind. I won’t send you back because you have done wonderful work; because it’s not only in South Africa we are celebrating. It’s all over the world. And there is peace in places that know war.”[4] God may not send Madiba back to us, but God will send us a prophet in the mold of Madiba, in the mold of Paul, and greater yet God will send Jesus back to us.

Madiba spoke these words about Jesus at Easter in 1994.

“The Good News borne by our risen Messiah who chose not one race, who chose not one country, who chose not one language, who chose not one tribe, who chose all of humankind!

Each Easter marks the rebirth of our faith. It marks the victory of our risen Saviour over the torture of the cross and the grave.

Our Messiah, who came to us in the form of a mortal man, but who by his suffering and crucifixion attained immortality.

Our Messiah, born like an outcast in a stable, and executed like a criminal on the cross.

Our Messiah, whose life bears testimony to the truth that there is no shame in poverty: Those who should be ashamed are they who impoverish others.

Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being persecuted: Those who should be ashamed are they who persecute others.

Whose life proclaims the truth that there is no shame in being conquered: Those who should be ashamed are they who conquer others.

Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being dispossessed: Those who should be ashamed are they who dispossess others.

Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being oppressed: Those who should be ashamed are they who oppress others.”[5]

Madiba and Paul both spoke wonderful words that can motivate and encourage, but there were more instances where they sighed the same sighs of frustration that we do. Where they had nothing more to offer to God than their being and their willingness to be with God. Take heart in this. God asks and expects nothing more from us than ourselves, which is at its heart the most powerful thing that we can offer. Even in those moments of utter despair we are never alone; we are in the same cell as Madiba, the same cell as Paul, and Christ’s love is always with us.

 

[1] “Why is Nelson Mandela Called Madiba?” USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/06/nelson-mandela-madiba-meaning/3889469/, accessed 19 July 2014.

[2] Romans 8:26-27 NRSV.

[3] Romans 8:31 NRSV.

[4] “Mandela Looking Down on Earth – Desmond Tutu.” The Citizen, http://citizen.co.za/212360/mandela-looking-earth-desmond-tutu/, accessed 19 July 2014.

[5] “Nelson Mandela and His Faith.” Christian Today, http://www.christiantoday.com/article/nelson.mandela.and.his.faith/34956.htm, accessed 19 July 2014.

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Be Prisoners of Hope…

Proper 9 – Be Prisoners of Hope
Calvary Episcopal Church
6 July 2013

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I restore to you double.”

When God speaks these words through the prophet Zechariah, the words are falling on the ears of people only recently reunited. The Babylonian exile has ended; Jews are making their return to Jerusalem and construction of the second Temple has begun. Those who were exiled and those who remained are being united in an uneasy marriage. Uneasy because despite shared heritage, their experiences were not the same. Many had lived in relative captivity in Babylon, while those who remained continued living in the northern parts of Israel.

To the group returning to Israel their entire way of life had changed. Temple could not be the center of their corporate lives when the temple had been destroyed. New ways of identifying themselves as God’s people had emerged; those who had remained did not know the new ways. It was not an easy time.

Zechariah comes bearing a message of hope. God speaks to the people.

“I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
and I shall command peace to the nations;
My dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

The imagery that God uses here would have instantly brought ideas of military power to the minds of the hearers. To stop chariots and warhorses one needs a strong cavalry. To break the battle bow, we need legions of infantry to cross the field of battle and fight. To spread dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth, a people are going to need to remain vigilant and to train in the art of war continuously.

This means that the king whom God is going to send to us is going to be a mighty warrior, sort of like William Wallace: seven feet tall, killing men by the hundreds, shooting fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from… well not his eyes. If you have seen the film Braveheart with Mel Gibson you know the type of king that we need to persevere in these trying times. Someone who can ride up before a battle, giving an amazing motivational speech, then run across the field with his two-handed claymore slaying every man and beast that stands between him and the freedom that he so desperately seeks.

Except this is not what God promised to us. God is not going to send a kilted warrior with his face painted blue, riding a valiant warhorse, surrounded by deadly men armed to the teeth.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Triumphant and humble riding on the foal of a donkey, which is an altogether different image than the one that we had in mind. Our king is the one coming to stop chariots and warhorses, to break the bows and to spread his dominion. A king on a colt does not sound like the type of king that comes to set us free.

What kind of freedom can you win from the back of foal?

Maybe we do not understand freedom. From the beginning of recorded history until today, and it will likely continue for generations to come, we have not fully grasped freedom. Freedom as we humans understand it is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, the power of self-determination attributed to the will, the quality of being independent of fate or necessity, or the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

The freedom that is described in the dictionary cannot be won from the back of a foal. Human freedom and the freedom that God offers to us are not the same things. Independence, self-determination, and the power to act without restraint are not God’s ideas of freedom. If these are the things that we expect in the Kingdom of God we are going to be sorely disappointed.

The freedom that God offers to us, without cost, is the freedom to be who we were created to be. Freedom is the ability to live fully into our created nature. Freedom is utter reliance and dependence upon God.

Reliance and dependence on something other than ourselves has never been the human construct of freedom and it certainly is not going to be turned into an internet meme on Fourth of July weekend. But it is what God offers.

The last definition that I mentioned before defined freedom as the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; Saint Paul in his letter to the churches in Galatia refers to himself as a slave to Christ. New Testament professor Frank Matera wrote, “As Christ’s slave, Paul is completely subservient to his master, and yet he has found a freedom which only obedience to Christ can bring.” Paul found a freedom which only obedience to Christ can bring. It is only in slavery to Christ that Paul finds freedom.

The prophet Zechariah commends us to be prisoners of hope. What does it mean to be a prisoner of hope? Being a prisoner of hope means returning to our stronghold. It means coming to God like little children. Gazing upon the Almighty with eyes full of wonderment and awe, hands grasping for the warmth of a parent. Being a prisoner of hope means that we live our lives not in prideful fear of failure, rather it means we live our lives assured by the promises of our God.

Gentleness and rest, the easing of our burdens, and to be with us through every trial and tribulation, our assurance, our hope is the blessed knowledge that God will never turn his back on us.

Hope.

Hope is not prideful. Hope is strengthened by humility. Hope is sacramental.

We come to the altar to cast off our heavy loads; to find the rest that Christ promises to us and to take upon our shoulders the yoke of gentleness and humility. From there we enter back into a world that does not yet recognize the freedom that being a slave of Christ and a prisoner of hope brings. The gentleness and humility that we are yoked with can easily be traded out for false strength and pride. We must remain hopeful, because for every time that we are willing to cast aside the false strength and pride of the world, Christ is waiting to welcome us home with open arms and a love greater than we can comprehend.

From the return of those who had been exiled in Babylon, to our nation today, the story has not changed. We are a people divided by false differences. We do not hear our own song on the lips of the others. We are a people seeking a false freedom that can only bring separation from those who surround us and subjugation by a false idol.

We can be servants of pride or slaves of Christ.

We can be free from each other or united in God’s love.

We can seek false freedom or we can become prisoners of hope.

Be a prisoner of hope.

Rejoice greatly in your imprisonment.

Shout aloud brothers and sisters.

Triumphant and victorious is our God whose people are the prisoners of hope.

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The Practice of Welcoming…

Calvary Episcopal Church

Proper 8

29 June 2014

 

As I sat looking out the window, I noticed many things. Smoke rose slowly from the trash pile at the north end of the open field. There was a shopkeeper dutifully sweeping the sidewalk in front of his store in preparation for the day. The sun rising behind me glinted off of a piece of metal beside the roadway. The intersection was quiet; a few pedestrians and three cars had passed through, but the busy morning had not yet fully dawned. The trash bag that I had stuck to the remains of a shrub about 150 yards away blew gently towards me, not enough of a breeze to be concerned.

The radio hummed softly in my ear, none of the other patrols were moving yet. I shifted my gaze away from the intersection for a moment and glanced towards my rucksack; peeking out of the top was my copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. When my turn on watch was over in an hour and a half, I was planning on using 20 minutes of my sleep time to find out what Harry and Ron would find when they followed the spiders. As I looked further around the room, I saw Jimmy asleep, his head resting on his Kevlar helmet. I knew that our other two team members had security downstairs.

As I glanced back at the piece of shiny metal beside the road, the sun had risen enough for me to tell that it was just a hub cab that had fallen off of a passing car. A few minutes passed by when I felt a tug at my shoulder. ‘As-salamu alaykum Teegee’ ‘Wa-alaykum as-salaam.’ I smiled as I looked over my shoulder at the five-year-old son of the family whose house we had secured for our over-watch position.

‘Would you like some chai Teegee?’

I ruffled his hair with my gloved hand, ‘yes, please. Chukran, thank you.’

A few moments later he returned with a tray; it held a teapot, a couple of cups, some bread, and a small bowl filled with dates. My heart was full as we had breakfast. Every now and again he would point at something outside and motion to signal that he wanted to use the binoculars to investigate further.

My heart was full because I had been welcomed. This welcome was very unexpected. Sitting in the upstairs bedroom of a house in western Baghdad is not the place where a United States Soldier expects to be welcomed. Especially when you take into account that we had, for lack of a better word, been holding this family hostage for a couple of days.

You see, a few weeks before, we had gone house to house in this area looking for a position from where we could set up over-watch on the intersection. There had been a rash of roadside bomb attacks, not only on US forces, but on the local population as well. As we would search the houses, we could not just look out of the windows, we would turn out closets and dressers, knock on walls to listen for hidden compartments, and speak with the residents.

When we originally searched this particular house they were kind to us in a way that did not always exist. Hospitality reigns in the Middle East. It is a large part of their culture. Often we would be offered cups of tea and a small snack, but you can tell in someone’s eyes when they are doing something out of duty rather than out of love. Hate does not disappear because someone offers you food and drink. You can see and feel true love. You can see and feel true hospitality. You can see and feel when you are truly being welcomed.

“‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous.’”[1]

When Jesus gives the disciples this instruction he is not talking about dinner parties or cold drinks on the front porch on a hot summer’s eve; he is speaking about a way of living. Jesus is not talking about welcoming him with part of your being or inviting the One who sent him over for an evening of frivolity. Jesus is speaking about welcoming with the whole of our existence.

I love spending evenings with dear friends as I imagine you do as well. In fact, part of the reason that I am in such a rush for Annie and me to paint our house is because then we will be able to have friends over. Every now and then I love to have a rather fancy evening where everything is laid out just right and meticulously paired with appropriate beverages. However, I get really excited when those friends come over. I think you know whom I am talking about. The friends that I do not need to be embarrassed in front of because we did not spotlessly clean the house before they came over. The friends where dinner can be a simple meal of bread, hummus, and cheese. The friends we wish never had to leave because we are more fully ourselves when they are with us.

This is the struggle of Jesus’ teaching; we are human beings living in a fallen world; and some people annoy us to no end. They are the people whom we have to invite to weddings and parties, because… well I am not sure why, we just have to do it. They are the people that when we are with them we kind of hope that our phones ring with some unexpected event requiring our immediate attention. 

We are however, commanded to welcome in spite of our own feelings. They are children of God also; they are Christ incarnate before our very eyes. So how do we move from a shallow welcome to the welcome of which Jesus speaks?

We practice. We force ourselves to welcome everyone and when we fail at it we forgive ourselves. Then we begin again. We will have to keep trying throughout the whole of our lives, because seeing the person who stands against everything we hold dear as made in the Image of God, is not a lesson learned over a summer.

When we learn the lesson and when we live the lesson, we may not even realize it, but the person we are welcoming will know. They will feel the love of God surrounding them and they will see recognition and acceptance of their true nature in our eyes. Chances are it will happen in a moment that is too small for us to even recognize.

“‘And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’”[2]

When that little boy brought the tray filled with breakfast to me, he did so because he had practiced. Middle Eastern tradition obliged him and his family to offer my soldiers and me hospitality, but years of living into the practice allowed them to see us for who we were created to be. 

They were able to disregard the violent exteriors that we wore and welcome us as fellow pilgrims in the journey of life.

Let us pray.

Loving God remove from our eyes the scales of prejudice and malice; bless us with a disregard for political hatred and forced divisions and guide our hearts and minds to see and welcome you in all whom we meet along the way. Amen.

 

[1] Matthew 10:40-41 NRSV

[2] Matthew 10:42 NRSV

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Puenta la Reina to Torres del Rio…

Needless to say my work at the parish is keeping me from being as timely on this as I would like. And with closing on our house tomorrow we see how I am able to keep up. 

10 June 2013                     Puenta la Reina to Villamayor de Monjardin.

This walk was one of the most beautiful of the entire Camino; rolling hills, orchards, vineyards, and wild flowers. Aoífe got separated from the others today and stayed at an albergue run by a group from the Netherlands. It was situated on the side of hill below St. Stephen’s Castle, which I came to find out later, they would have given me the keys had I just asked. Obviously it would have been the first time anyone gave me the keys to a castle. Today we also passed the Fuente de Vino, the wine fountain, it was a welcome treat. I took a drink from my scallop shell and mixed about half a jug of wine with water to fortify for the rest of the day.

11 June 2013                   Villamayor de Monjardin to Torres del Rio

On this day I spent most of the day walking alone, it was nice, I needed the day to reflect and daydream. My shins were killing me at this point. The albergue that Fee, Cezar, and I stayed at had a little pool which was ice cold and felt very good on my shins. The church in the town was modeled on the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, it was a beautiful spot for some quiet prayer and contemplation.

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Trinity Sunday

Given at Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania                               15 June 2014

 

So God created human kind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

In the Name of the Living God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

One cool June morning I started walking, carrying just a few necessities, the prayer requests of my friends, and a desire to find my true identity as a person, a father, and a priest. A year ago today I was ten days into my pilgrimage. I had read about the Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James, a couple of years before and something about it grabbed at my heart. In fact, I fully believe that God put the yearning and desire to make the pilgrimage into my heart. As I thought about my options for that summer; studying at Canterbury Cathedral, a lot of time to do nothing, or working a summer job, nothing else even came close to the Camino de Santiago. At every opportunity, or to be more honest, even at the most inopportune moments I was talking to Annie or anyone who would listen about my desire to make the pilgrimage. 

I read blogs and articles, I read books, I read a 12th century illuminated manuscript describing the routes to Santiago, cataloging the saint’s tombs to be venerated along the way, and giving a description of the cathedral. The more I read the more I realized that none of it mattered. What I needed to do was to start walking. Finally, my wonderful and very understanding wife, who we had just found out was pregnant with our daughter, said to me ‘just go, because if you don’t go this summer, you won’t be able to go for a very long time.’

I had the entire journey figured out. I would stop at regular intervals to pray and to read the psalms. My days would be spent in silence, except to order food and a bed, and contemplation. Feverishly I would ask God to show me the path ahead, to reveal just how I needed to live my life.

It was a brilliant plan, except that I forgot that God’s grace is not so predictable and that my own journey was not just my journey. You see in June of last year, alone, twenty four thousand pilgrims arrived at Santiago on foot, five thousand on bike, one hundred and sixty four by horse, and 5 in wheelchairs. The total is just shy of thirty thousand pilgrims and these are the people who checked in, hundreds of people never register with the pilgrim office.

Have you tried to spend a day in silence when thousands surround you? It is not easy.

The great commission that Jesus gave to the disciples and to us at the end of Matthew’s gospel is not easy either. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”Jesus is giving to the Church a mission of evangelism. We Episcopalians see the ‘E’word as kind of a dirty word. We are comfortable with going on mission trips or raising money for a good cause, but evangelism, that is something for someone else.    

When we think of evangelism we think of people handing out tracts on the street, or coming to our houses to hand out books, or billboards that read, “Jesus is coming, Repent and be saved.”Again and again we fail to see ourselves as the gift to each other that we truly were created to be. We see only our shortcomings and faults; we do not see the glory and image of God shining in each and every one of us.

Without a vision of the glory of God, without seeing the image of God in our own being, we cannot see the image of God in those who surround us. We are empty. We are a formless void, empty with darkness. Empty because we cannot see God.

This is where I found myself in Spain, being silent and contemplative had a place in my pilgrimage, but it was not to be the whole of the journey. Without the fellowship of the pilgrims who surrounded me, I was empty. Henri Nouwen wrote, “emptiness…can never be filled with words, but only by the presence of a human being.”[1] It is possible to be alone even when others surround us, but the good news is that it is not easy. Every fiber of our body yearns to be community, because at our very center that is what we were created to be, a body in relationship to our Creator and creation.

When I answered the call of another pilgrim on that side of the mountain, I was really responding to God’s call to me. God’s yearning and desire for me to be in relationship with him overpowered my selfish impulses.

In the reading from Genesis today we heard, “God created humankind in his image,” which begs the question, ‘What is the image of God?’

If you go upstairs into the parish offices and peak into Jonathon’s office, Leslie’s office, or my office you will see the same image; that of the Rublev icon of the Trinity, where the three persons of the Godhead sit around a table with the fourth side open inviting us to join their relationship. This is the image of God: relationship, community, and fellowship. The Trinity, for all of the analogies, is at its core relationship. The Trinity is as utterly simple as it is complex.

Each person of the Godhead is as different as they are alike, and they are inviting us into their relationship. They are saying to us ‘sit, eat, share, rest, love, just be with us.’ 

When we understand this image of God, the Trinity, perhaps evangelism will become a little easier for us. Yes, we need to baptize and make disciples, but when we remember the message at the heart of what Jesus commanded us, at the heart of God, we will see that it all begins with an invitation into a relationship. Baptism is an invitation into something greater than ourselves, it is an invitation into our corporate being, into the image of God.

When God created us in his image he created beings that yearn to be in relationship, beings whose existence is at the same time unique and ultimately tied to the people around them. When we recognize God in ourselves we are free to recognize God in others and with that recognition comes a desire to be in relationship with that person, because without that person we are not fully ourselves. As long as there is one person who does not know that they are created in the image of God, our community is a community with a mission.

Ubuntu is an African theology, it loosely translates as ‘I am, because we are.”

I am, because we are. 

This idea is the gift of the Trinity, it is God’s gift to us, and it is our gift to the world.

In community, in the Trinity, we do not lose our identity; we find our identity. It is only in being unique, that we can be part of the group; and it is only in being a part of the group, that we can be unique. It is a unique journey that we are on as Christians. Ours is a faith that is lived out by walking in community with each other and with God. 

This morning I give thanks to that pilgrim who helped me respond to God’s call and I give thanks for each and every one of you, and I give thanks to God; because I am, because we are.

 

 

[1] Henri J M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society, image ed. (New York, NY: Image Books, 1990, 1972), 69.

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Pamplona to Puenta la Reina…

9 June 2013

This may have been one of my favorite days on the Camino. It rained and rained and rained. The rain this day combined with the rain the day before made for a rather muddy mess. Aoífe and I got a little turned around as we were leaving Pamplona, my guidebook was waterlogged for days. We finally met up with Keith, Matt, and Adam and waited outside of this little cafe waiting for it to open. In the process I swung my backpack into the call buttons and woke up half the apartment building.

At one point the path was about ten inches of water for a quarter of a mile. At another the rain was coming sideways. On our way up towards the iron pilgrims we were holding onto bushes and roots, because the side of the mountain was nothing but mud. I just remember laughing a lot because it was the kind of day that anyone with any sense would have stayed inside.

When we arrived in Puenta, that was when I realized that our little group had become a group. That was a pretty grand realization. At the hostel the brother who was in charge went and found newspaper for everyone’s boots to help them dry. Dinner was also rather hilarious. The waitress did not like Matt at all. And refused to give him a steak a knife. She then thanked me for ordering the piña dessert.

It was a wonderful wet day…

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Larrasoaña to Pamplona…

8 June 2013

Rain. Rain. Rain.

Being a lover of Hemingway, I was really excited to see Pamplona and it did not disappoint. From the beautiful little cafes to the citadel the city was lovely. The Jesús y Maria albergue was in an old church that had been redone and it was wonderful. Despite my shin really bothering me I went on a three hour walk around the city.

Two of my favorite memories from that day was stopping for a hot café con leche at El Horno de Iroz, they had a huge woodfired oven and all the pilgrims were hundled under the tiny roof, and the cafe that we all piled into while waiting on the albergue to open, because I checked my email and found out that I had been made a candidate for holy orders.

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