¿What makes a pilgrimage a pilgrimage?
¿What qualities inform and form the pilgrim?
I´m exploring simplicity, generosity and gratitude as ways of being that are appropriate for doing a pilgrimage and which mutually inform and enrich each other. ¿How will they play out? ¿How will I attend to them in my body, my speech and my mind?
At a conference last year on philosophies of travel, I was confronted with the (well-informed) opinion of the conference organiser that there was no distinction between the pilgrim and the tourist. His justification: If you are privileged enough to have the leisure to travel you´re a tourist. Basta. It just doesn´t cut it for me, though. Or at least, it doesn´t accord with my experience of consciously stepping into the shoes and the attitude of pilgrimage. Perhaps it´s because for me, the distinction between pilgrim and tourist has been such an important one for me deciding who I want to be. What do you think? There´s something powerful about doing a long journey on foot, especially when undertaken with a heart-orientation towards the sacred, towards God. And here on the Camino, one is literally walking in the footsteps of a thousand years of pilgrims (give or take the more sparse patches in the Camino history). Do places and trails become strong in their own right, through all that intention, all that prayer, all those plodding and skipping human steps?
Boots outside an albergue
Gazpacho in a glass and cafecito con leche
I´ve been most happily wandering around this beautiful city today. I found my Credencial (2 Euro) and English language guide (10 Euro) both from `Hotel Simon` close to the Cathedral and am staying tonight in Hostal de la Triana where they offer a discount to pilgrims. It´s 13 Euro for a bed in a dorm. There is a cycling pilgrim who´s just arrived and some others with gear on their beds. I seem to be the only one with snap-lock bags full of trail mix, super greens, linseeds, cacao beans and gojis. Maybe it´s a hang-over from my Bibbulmun walking days, though more than that I´m also trying to do this walk semi raw… ie eating mostly fresh fruit and veggies, nuts and seeds. Yeah, I recently had a bit of a nutrition and eating revelation in Vilcabamba in Ecuador. Basically not eating bread and (much) cooked food and hardly anything processed felt so wonderfully good and left me with a clear mind and a happy spirit. I´m excited to see how it pans out in the context of a long walk, and I´m not being silly about it. I´m sure I´ll be eating more standard Camino fare as well. Today´s coffee, pictured, was accompanied by rich oily Gazpacho served with ice in a wine glass.
I love this city.
When I went to the Cathedral today to sit quietly for a while, I found it rather brimming with people with screens up displaying live coverage of what was happening in the special invitation-only area. Curious! The, ah, ´live´ coverage was a human body in a glass coffin. An old man in beautiful robes who appeared to be sleeping. I found out when I asked that it was the special day where the relics of San Juan Bosque were being displayed, and it made me think about the saints whose bodies do not decompose after death. So the tales go. And in this case seemingly upheld.
Off to bubby dud now, ready for an early start!
The Cathedral in Sevilla bordered by orange trees
I´m in Sevilla in the south of Spain. Tomorrow I begin walking on the Via de la Plata (the Silver Way), which winds its way north and then west to Santiago de Compostela, a thousand kilometres away in Galicia.
Today´s job is to buy the last of my supplies and get my Credencial or pilgrim passport stamped at the Cathedral. Tomorrow I head off in first light out of this beautiful city and towards Guillena, just over 22km away.
I hope you enjoy the journey with me. I´ll be posting when I get WiFi.