Busted Halo

Follow Joe as he hikes the Camino, experiences World Youth Day in Madrid, and travels to spiritual points in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and beyond.

August 14th, 2011
Eva, Our Guide (and Other Camino Tales)

Her walk is more of a stride, or a sway, maybe even a dance. The Spanish sun has baked deep lines into her face — not unlovely wrinkles — these are more a map of beauty and years drawn across her gaze.

She has been walking The Way for 14 years and knows the trails and churches of the path like the back of her hand. Her name is Eva — she is our guide on this journey.

What do you do when you’re from a place so many others in the world wish to make a pilgrimage to? Eva was born in Santiago de Compostela some 60 years ago and has been a fan of the Camino ever since she could walk. And walking is what she does best. Formerly an English and Spanish language instructor for children and adults, she now teaches history, botany and spirituality for those she leads on the Way. Want to know what year a church along the path was built? Eva knows. What kind of plant is that; is it poisonous; can I eat it? Ask Eva. In the presence of her quick and experienced pace, it is impossible to feel lost in this world even for a moment. Friends, if you are lucky enough as I, to one day travel the Camino, pray you may follow in the footfalls of someone like our Eva.

August 9th, 2011
Madrid Airport

Arrived. And since it’s technically only 2am my time I haven’t really slept yet.  Only problem is it’s 8am here.  I’ve got four hours to kill while I wait for the rest of the pilgrimage group to arrive — for this Spanish excursion Busted Halo has partnered with Franciscan Spirit Tours, and for the Camino and World Youth Day I will be traveling with many other pilgrims in the group, approximately 40 for the hike, and 80 for that wild week in Madrid — so perhaps I’ll be able to sleep here for a few hours, and many more on the lengthy bus trip that will take the group from the Madrid airport to Portomarin, the start of our Camino.

Is it Ignatian wisdom that teaches, “God in everything”? Would that also include an R-rated sci-fi comedy? I sometimes find myself having various spiritual experiences any given day of any given week — and by that I mean some sort of moment where things kind of click and I suddenly feel very in tune and in touch with both this world and that other world we believers know is just within grasp with something as simple as a closing of the eyes, deep breath, meditation, short prayer, tender moment, hearty laughter or some such other such centering practice.  Sometimes it happens for me riding my bike to work, or entering a church right before Mass begins with the smell of incense lingering in the air, or watching the sunset with my girlfriend, or even over a beer with a buddy at a newly discovered bar.

Strangely, I felt this occur last night when crossing the Atlantic while taking advantage of the airline’s complimentary movies.  Paul, the story of two sci-fi nerds who find a real life extraterrestrial, is one of the most fun and funniest films I’ve seen in awhile.  Not only does it have an outstanding soundtrack, solid story line and characters arcs, but there were all sorts of fantastic religious elements and jokes crammed in there as well, (there’s a great scene involving creationists verse science (sorry, creationists lose.) Paul, the alien character, foul-mouth, chain smoking and anti-religious as he is, exhibits all the signs of a modern day messiah from the cosmos — he performs healing “miracles”, he can bring animals (mostly birds) back to life, he teaches his rag tag group of friends (or disciples) a new perspective on the world before dying, coming back to life and ascending into the heavens.  The fun ultimately culminates in a story of sacrifice, resurrection, friendship and finally a big three-way bro-mance hug at the end.

Is it strange that I saw all sorts of Christian themes running through this, what is a somewhat anti-religious movie?  Or is it simply a minor case of sleep deprivation? Spiritual experience or not enough winks?  I guess I’ll attempt my best to get some now.

Good night.

Wait.  The Spanish sun is just absolutely beginning to pour through these large airport windows.  Excitement over the trip ahead of me is growing, and the immediate need for sleep fades. Oh, well.

Good morning, Madrid!

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