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Pour le père de Marie

Marie

Marie, qui vient d’Albi, s’est arrêtée aujourd’hui. Elle marche pour son père qui est très malade. Prions pour lui et pour elle. Sa sœur est aussi sur le chemin. Nous espérons la rencontrer aussi d’ici deux ou trois semaines.

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Marie from Albi, stopped by today. She is walking for her father who is very ill. Let us pray for him and for her. Her sister is also walking the Camino. We hope we might meet her as well in two or three weeks’ time.

Thresholds

In a heatwave, walkers are few, but the young seem cheerfully brave about the high temperatures, and press on regardless. In our fortnight looking after the shelter at Emmaüs, Susan and I met some inspiring 20-somethings, whose dedication to the pilgrimage, open-heartedness and lively conversation more than made up for the longueurs of hours without visitors.

On our first day, Rafael took refuge from the hot afternoon before setting off on the last kilometres to Maslaq. It was obscurely comforting to look out now and again and see him quietly reading in the shade: I wonder if a six-hour stay is a record; he must have finished his book, because he left it behind for us – thank you, Rafael.

A couple of days later, Loulou and her friend turned into the drive, almost by accident (as she wrote in the visitors’ book). She had been working as a carer in maisons de retraite in France and Switzerland, and was taking some time off to regroup before returning to studying.

Two of the three delightful young people who graced my last day at Arthez were also ‘betweeners’. They had been working in the film industry after studying visual effects at university, and had decided to carry on all the way to Finisterre – more than 2000 km from their starting point in Belgium – while they thought about ‘where now’. The friend with whom they’d been walking since Le Puy en Velay was about to embark on the last year and a half of a decade of training as a psychiatrist: no doubt about her future, but perhaps a real need to take a break and reflect before the final stage.

And there were others – not quite so young – who were also considering turning points in their lives and who honoured us with their confidence. We thank you all for your company and conversation and trust. May you see your way with clear eyes. If you can walk the camino in a canicule,you have the courage and spirit for whatever you decide to do next.

Susan and Rose

Three Canadians

Gavia from Vancouver

I found Gavia sitting quietly in our shelter, giving her blistered feet a rest for a while. She carried a big pack. She explained that was because she was carrying her violin, which she played every day especially in churches. She was wearing a ‘rain skirt’. A few days previously a couple of American ladies had came by, also wearing rain skirts – the first time I had seen them. They explained that they were more practical than waterproof trousers. Then two more ladies arrived – Jeanette and her friend. They were from Quebec on the other side of Canada

Quatre charmants pèlerins

Agnès
John

Quatre charmants pèlerins sont passées aujourd’hui. D’abord, Evelyne et Véronique – deux amies marseillaises, profitent de l’occasion pour s’éloigner pendant quelques jours de la routine et des responsabilités de la vie quotidienne. Elles ont chacune choisi une de nos croix en bois d’olivier à prendre avec. Vient ensuite Agnès qui avait pris plusieurs mois d’absence de son travail de paysagiste pour parcourir tout le Camino du Puy à Santiago. Elle portait une petite croix en céramique qu’elle avait fabriquée elle-même. Enfin, nous avons rencontré John, un ministre méthodiste du Lancashire, bénéficiant également de quelques mois de congé sabbatique de son ministère.

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Four delightful pilgrims came by today. First Evelyne and Veronique – two friends from Marseille taking the opportunity to be away for a week or so from the routine and responsibilities of daily life. They each selected one of our olive-wood crosses to take with them. Then came Agnès who had taken several months leave from her work as a landscape gardener to walk the whole Camino from Le Puy to Santiago. She was wearing a little ceramic cross which she had made herself. Finally we met John, a Methodist minister, from Lancashire, also enjoying a few months sabbatical from his ministry.


Hannah and Anne

We met Hannah, an Australian law student, today – see her picture below. She had to reach St Jean Pied de Port in three days time so was walking nearly 40 km a day. But she still had time for a chat and a coffee.

Hannah



A little later along came Anne. She had taken a six month sabbatical and was walking at a more leisurely pace. She talked of her mother who had died a year ago, and of her role in the Frence resistance during WWII.

Un peu plus tard arrive Anne. Elle a pris un congé sabbatique de six mois et marchait à un rythme plus tranquille. Elle parlait de sa mère, qui s’est décédé il y a un an, et de son rôle dans la Résistance pendant la deuxième Guerre Mondiale.

Anne


A return visit!

Today Ingrid and Lars stopped by for a coffee. It was their second visit to Emmaüs; the previous occasion was 5th May last year! Lovely to meet them again.

They are from Sweden – now living in Stockholm but previously just two hundred km from the Artic Circle. For environmental reasons they had travelled from Stockholm to Bordeaux by train – a 24-hour journey! They commented that the railways of Europe needed to get their ticketing better linked-up and coordinated.

Easter Monday – our first pilgrim visitors

Three pilgrims stopped by today. Our first visitors for 2019. Two of them were looking for bread, all the shops and the bakery being closed today…..!

I like to think Easter Monday is also the Emmaüs feast day, when the two disciples, Cleopas and another (perhaps his wife, Mary) met Jesus on the road after His Resurrection.

Here again is the painting by Paul Cyr of Jesus meeting the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and which hangs in our shelter.