Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
Welcome at this belated episode of our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. As you maybe have noticed I have a slight problem with the lay-out of our Kai. Both side-columns have mysteriously disappeared. I don't know what the problem is, but I have already emailed the "blogger / blogspot" - crew. So I hope they will find the problem. If not then I think I will go to another blogging space such as WP. We will see.
Okay ... this month we are on a pilgrimage to Santiago De Compostela while reading Paulo Coelho's "The Pilgrimage". After arriving at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port we were informed about the history of this pilgrimage route and now we will encounter the one who will help us on our way, not our guide, but Mme Lourdes, an old woman who walked the Road to Santiago herself several times ... and she is part of one of the orders of the Tradition, a kind of spiritual society.
|A Peregrino, as the pilgrims to Santiago are called|
brought ‘the Scallops.’ She was referring to the shells adopted as a symbol by pilgrims to the tomb of the apostle; they served as a means of identification for the pilgrims when they met.
Before leaving for Spain, I had made a pilgrimage to a place in Brazil called Aparecida do Norte. There, I had purchased an image of Our Lady of the Visitation, mounted on three scallop shells. I took it from my knapsack and offered it to Mme Lourdes.
‘Pretty but not very practical,’ she said, handing it back to me. ‘It could break during your pilgrimage.’
‘It’s not going to break. And I am going to leave it at the tomb of the apostle.’
Mme Lourdes appeared not to have much time for me. She gave me a small card that would help me to get lodging at the monasteries along the Road, stamped it with the seal of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to indicate that I had started the pilgrimage there, and said that I could leave with God’s blessing.
‘But where is my guide?’ I asked.
‘What guide?’ she answered, a bit surprised but also with a gleam in her eye.
I realized that I had forgotten something very important. In my eagerness to arrive and be attended to, I had neglected to say the Ancient Word – a kind of password that identifies those who belong to the orders of the Tradition. I immediately corrected my mistake and said
the word to her. In response, Mme Lourdes quickly snatched from my hands the card she had given me a few moments earlier.
‘You won’t be needing this,’ she said, as she moved a pile of old newspapers that were sitting on top of a cardboard box. ‘Your road and your stopping places will depend on decisions made by your guide.’
Mme Lourdes took a hat and a cape from the box. They seemed to be very old but well preserved. She asked me to stand in the middle of the room, and she began silently to pray. Then she placed the cape on my shoulders and the hat on my head. I could see that scallop shells had been sewn onto both the hat and the shoulders of the cape. Without interrupting her prayers, the old woman
seized a shepherd’s crook from the corner of the room and made me take it in my right hand. A small water gourd hung from the crook. There I stood: dressed in Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt that read ‘I LOVE NY,’ covered by the medieval garb of the pilgrims to Compostela.
|Traditonal clothing of a peregrino|
I so swore.
‘The Spirit of the ancient pilgrims of the Tradition must be with you during your journey. The hat will protect you from the sun and from evil thoughts; the cape will protect you from the rain and from evil words; the gourd will protect you from enemies and from evil deeds. May the blessing of God, of San Tiago, and of the Virgin Mary be with you through all of your nights and days. Amen.’
‘Leave Pied-de-Port by following this street to the city gates at the end of the wall,’ she told me. ‘And when you get to Santiago de Compostela, say a Hail Mary for me. I have walked the Road so many times that now I content myself with reading in other pilgrims’ eyes the excitement that I still feel; I just can’t put it into practice anymore because of my age. Tell that to San Tiago. And
tell him also that any time now I will join him, following a different road that’s more direct and less exhausting.’
I left the small city. (Source: The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho)