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Peace on the Camino

October 11, 2012
S+L's Kris Dmytrenko is walking  the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. He may write regular updates for the blog, or he may not until he reaches the end--as the spirit (and wifi availability) leads him.
It was an appropriate start to my pilgrimage, which will take me along an ancient route in Spain called the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. On my flight across the Atlantic, the entertainment screens were busted. In fact, the whole plane felt medieval. Silence prevailed.
A movie would have been a welcome diversion from my worries. Chief among them, I didn't exactly know how to get to my starting point in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port after I landed in Paris. While the train is the recommended method, its schedule meant that I would arrive at my destination late in the evening -- too late, I feared, to secure accommodations for the night.
Still, I took the earliest train I could get, and ended up in Bayonne, about 50 km away, where I would have to wait hours for the next train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
I wandered over to Bayonne's central church, where I felt called to take a moment to pray, even though I was anxious to resolve my dilemma. Inside, gazing toward the altar, was a statue of Mary, Our Lady of Peace. (Pray for us...)
As I left the church, I spotted a priest outside.
"Father, apart from the train, are there other ways to get to Saint-Jean?"
"Try hitchhiking," he advised me, pointing in the direction of Saint-Jean.
The priest was right. The locals, accustomed to the sight of backpack-toting pilgrims, promptly picked me up and drove me to my destination. I arrived in time to register as a pilgrim, book my hostel for the night, and go to Mass.
Already, I felt God's guiding hand on my pilgrimage. And it wouldn't officially start until the following morning.