As I walk on, my thoughts keep a-tumblin’…


Todays walk was 10 miles of flat, mostly paved road with very little to break up the view. Farms and fields, with the occasional tractor rumbling by.

So, as I walked, I mused about various topics. One of them was the human need for ritual, and how we express that both through religious customs/beliefs and in our daily lives.

The entire Holy Week experience is based on ritualized reenactment of what we imagine Jesus’ last days to have been. In both Protestant and Catholic traditions, certain very specific words are said and certain very specific actions are performed. It’s always the same, and there is comfort in that sameness. The entire Catholic Mass itself is a ritual, it’s format set and exact, no matter where in the world you are. So, theoretically, a practicing Catholic would feel at home attending Mass in Spain, or in Boston, or in Zambia. The ritual would remain the same.

Those of us brought up in the Protestant branch may find this peculiar, although all Protestant sects have some of the same liturgy and sacraments. For Protestants, church is more interactive and fluid. (And we sing hymns.)

(Quakers, of course, dispensed with all of it and spend an hour “waiting upon the Lord.” In silence, unless someone is moved to speak. But even then, there is the ritual of the closing of Meeting for Worship and the fellowship that comes after.)

I imagine all religions have their own rituals. There are more than 10,000 distinct religions in the world and each one has specific practices that adherents follow and cling to. And those who follow no religion? They create their own rituals and customs, whether or not they identify as a member of any organized group.

(If you doubt this, think about “making a wish and blowing out the birthday candles.”)

We all desire some kind of order and certainty in a chaotic and disorganized world. And we all find it in different ways and different places. We tend to hold tightly to our beliefs and often push back, sometimes quite hard, against anything that questions or challenges us. And yet…I believe it is that by questioning we may come to a new understanding of ourselves, of others and of this crazy world.

As I got closer to my destination, some cows greeted me.

I also saw these huge birds (cranes? storks?) and a nest a pair had built high in the electrical tower.

After about 6 miles, I came to a town and a albergue that had a cafe…and they made me eggs and toast! Eggs!

Finally, after the Camino took me behind some factories and along an industrial section, I arrived at Hospital de Òbrigo and my albergue. It’s lovely, with a garden and a “painting station” for Pilgrims to create artwork that is the hung on the walls.

And now…time to find some food! Tomorrow it’s on to Astorga (and a hilly section, so I’ll be using the pack transport service!)

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