Few pilgrims in recent days, but a few days ago, on July 28, morning prayer was very late. Happily a group of 9 pilgrim friends – a family of six, a married couple and a priest – stopped by to join us for prayer – wondering if the prière du matin notice was a blague. Sadly I did not get all their names or their permission to post their photo here.
Then yesterday, Saturday, three (very) young ladies from Paris and Nantes stopped briefly.
Aujourd’hui, dimanche, une jolie famille – Tanguy, Séverine, Tiphaine, et Miriam – ont pris leur repas chez nous. Ils habitent un village dans l’Auvergne. Nous avons parlé de la catastrophe du Bréxit, de la Christianisme de nos jours et pas mal d’autre choses. Tanguy travail pour le Secours Catholique. Il expliquait comment l’accent de cette organisation est en train de changer de ‘travailler pour’ les personnes en difficulté plutôt vers ‘travailler avec’ ces personnes. Les voici :
Un peu de temps après Elisabeth est arrivé. Elle travaille comme prof en Tanzanie. Elle explique que, pendant son pèlerinage, elle fait le camping mais ne se sent jamais en danger.
Pourquoi nous avons toujours plus ce visiteurs les weekends que pendant les semaines ? C’est un mystère.
We returned to Arthez-de-Béarn two days ago. Yesterday, even before we had opened the pilgrim shelter, our first pilgrim arrived – so unexpectedly that we did not even get her name or photo. But she had seen the entry for Emmaüs in the Miam Miam Dodo guidebook. Here it is.
Bastien, from Hamburg, came by yesterday and eventually had lunch with us. He was walking his sixth Camino having set out from Hamburg in January seven months earlier.
He had had a difficult childhood. But while walking the Camino had started reading the Bible – initially to show Christians he met on the Way how wrong they were. But in fact as a result he had been converted to Christianity himself. He was now wondering what next to do in his life, being determined not to let his past define who he was.
Gaëlle, Myriam, Emmanuel, Yannick et Costantino nous ont visité hier. Il était tard dans la journée. Alors, nous les avons donné permis à monter leur tente sur notre pelouse et rester la nuit. Aujourd’hui, nous avons récité la prière du matin ensemble, avant qu’ils sont parti pour Sauvelade.
Gaëlle, Myriam, Emmanuel, Yannick and Costantino visited us yesterday. It was late in the day. So we permitted them to put up their tent on our lawn and stay the night. Today we read morning prayer together before they left for Sauvelade.
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.
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.
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.