Yesterday I was in Santa Domingo de la Calzada, whose cathedral keeps a couple of live roosters in the south transept in tribute to a local miracle involving a cooked chicken coming back to life, thus stirring the sheriff to leave his dinner in time to rescue a hanged man from death. It’s a long story.
This morning I slipped out of the sleeping town before dawn, by the light of the Paschal moon. By the time I reached a large wayside cross, the dawn was blazing behind me. It was a dramatic beginning for the great three days of the Paschal Triduum, the ritual mimesis of Christ’s passage through death into resurrection.
I have been wondering what Holy Week, and especially the Triduum, would feel like on the Camino, so far from my accustomed ways of keeping these days. Each day I walk to a new place , hoping there will be some kind of liturgy there, and that despite the language and cultural differences I can still be deeply engaged in the texts, prayers and singing. And there have been some memorable moments so far, especially the processions. But as the week enters its climax, how much will I miss the familiar words and powerful hymns of my own tradition that have always, for me, been essential to the experience? Will my ritual dislocation have its own unique gifts to offer?
I had my answer this morning, when I entered the village of Granon. After ninety minutes of walking, I was ready for some refreshment. Just past the church, I looked up and saw the sign: PANADERIA JESUS, On the very day we remember the Last Supper, where Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body,” I had found Jesus’ Bakery. It had just opened for the day, and I entered through a bead curtain to find the baker pulling fresh loaves from the oven. The one he handed me was still warm. I have never tasted better bread. As I continued my walk, loaf in hand, I consumed each bite with the reverence of the sacrament. As the Psalmist says,
So mortals ate the bread of angels;
God provided for them food enough.