The local masses in the impressive churches of Estella – a picturesque river town beneath a great cliff – weren’t until 12:30, and I had 13 miles to walk. So I found a few people to join me in a Eucharist along the way. Using wine provided from an outdoor spigot on the path (a winery’s gift to pilgrims), we kept Palm Sunday – Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox – in a park next to an old monastery. Then, with olive branches (the Spanish variant of palms) attached to our packs, we continued on. Most of Holy Week will be like this – prayers, hymns and rites along the way, by myself or with a few others – because this week’s itinerary may not coincide with whatever church liturgies there may be when the walking day ends. It will not be the first time I’ve been liturgically homeless during the most important week of the year, but I pray that the Camino will provide some new ways to go ever deeper into the Paschal Mystery. And if I can survive the next two 18 mile days to stay on schedule, I will make the Easter Vigil at Burgos cathedral.
Certainly the prayers about walking in the way of the cross were deepened today by the thousands of steps that became a kind of prayer that persisted whatever my thoughts might be doing. In the afternoon’s long traverse of wide empty space under a hot sun, monkey mind receded, replaced by a kind of pedestrian trance. It’s hard to put into words, but perhaps this photograph (applying my camera’s watercolor effect), can say it for me.