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Dancing with God

Marylynn and I came to these statues in Palas de Rei and couldn’t resist the photo opportunity. 


When I was reviewing pictures and came to this one, I thought of a reflection Marylynn wrote for Ite Missa Est (our Parish Faith Formation website) based on Psalm 139:5 “Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.” She compared how God often leads us in a way similar to how one partner silently leads the other in dance. With a “slight touch” which requires us to be able to respond to that touch. 

 
May we be open to and respond to God’s hand upon us. 

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The Scallop Shell as a Sign of God’s Presence

To say that we saw a lot of scallop shells would be a vast understatement. As I mentioned, the yellow arrow and scallop shell are the main markers along the Camino.

Shells

Shells seen in the sidewalks along the Camino

I have previously posted some of the markers that had an arrow and shell:

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Only 160.9 km to go!

These were the largest shells I saw:

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Man-eating shell

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Church in Arca

We saw shell tiles for sale and shells used as home decorations; we each carried shells on our packs.

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Marylynn’s backpack the night before we started our hike

The following is from Caminoways.com

There are many stories that try to explain the link between the scallop shell and the Camino. The lines of the scallop shell are said to represent the different routes pilgrims travel from throughout Europe (and Asia), all walking trails leading to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. 

Medieval pilgrims often wore a scallop shell attached to their cloaks or hats during their journey to Santiago. More than being just a symbol or a pilgrim badge, the scallop shells also had a practical purpose: they were a handy and light replacement for a bowl so the pilgrims could use them to hold their food and drink on their long journey. Pilgrims would also be given food at churches and other establishments, and a scallop shell scoop was the measure for the food they would be donated.

Since the scallop is native to the coast of Galicia, the shell also became a memento, a physical proof of having completed the pilgrimage to Santiago, which often included the walk to Fisterra (the “End of the Earth”). The shells could be picked up at the very end of the journey in Fisterra but also became a popular souvenir and source of business for the shops near the Cathedral in Santiago.

In her book, “Walk in a Relaxed Manner”, Joyce Rupp talks about the shells (and arrows) as symbolic of various activities in our lives that keep us in the Now. Father Michael compared the shells to the helping hands (that we should accept) as we go along our “way.”

For me, the shells are symbolic of God’s presence in our lives. Sometimes God is very obvious; sometimes we can pass right by without even recognizing God. Sometimes God is providing direction; at other times help in a time of need.

 

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Objects May Appear Closer

As I looked through my pictures, I found several where there was something obvious near me and something in the distance. 

Marker in foreground, house in the distance

Railing in foreground, monastery in the distance

Flowers in foreground, hill in the distance


There is probably some artistic term for composing a picture this way. What strikes me is how much attention my eye gives to the closer object, even though in each case it is actually smaller/less significant. 

There is a clear analogy that can be made to things in our lives. When something is close, in location or time, it seems more important compared to “far off” things. Not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, just something we should be aware of. 
As I reflected further on this topic, it struck me how fortunate we are that God is everywhere (in time and place) and nothing is “far off” in God’s eyes. 

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Pleasant Surprises

I mentioned that on our fourth day of hiking, we had to choose between the shorter, more direct route or a longer route which went through Samos. In Samos, there is a monastery which was founded in the sixth century. 

Monastery of San Xulian de Samos

 If I understood our guide, part of the structure dates to the 12th century. We had high expectations of the visit and were not disappointed. 

Inside the church at the monastery

Monastery courtyard

Monastery hallway


The pleasant surprise was how beautiful the views were this day. We were told the other route had wonderful views and assumed the route through Samos did not. In fact, the views were some of the best of the trip. 

Overlooking the Rio Oribio

Overlooking a small hamlet

Field of canola


We hiked along the Rio Oribio, then the Rio Sarria the whole day. The walk was even more pleasant due to the fact that most peregrinos take the other route, so we felt like we had the coutryside to ourselves. 

How often do we have low or negative expectations based on no information or bad information? 

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