October 2 and I am back in Madrid, one of my favorite cities.
On the 5th, I will meet Edie Morrill and 29 people from around the US who are part of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela sponsored by the United Thank Offering UTO (for you Episcopalians, think those little blue mite boxes).
Twelve people will be “Grant Site Pilgrims”.
This group, which includes UTO President Sherri Dietrich and some other UTO board members, will travel by bus to Ávila, Salamanca, León, Astorga, Oviedo, and Lugo.
In addition to seeing some of Spain’s most beautiful cities , they will stop to visit places where UTO has given financial aid to support the work of Bishop Don Carlos and the Episcopal church of Spain.
During this pilgrimage they will also be promoting the current UTO Camino Challenge Grant.
Until the end of the year, UTO will match each dollar up to $60,000 towards the proposed Anglican Pilgrim Centre in Santiago de Compostela.
These pilgrims will be led by tour guide Joanna Wivell, of Insiders Madrid
and Bishop Don Carlos, Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, whose knowledge of Spanish art and history is legendary.
Missing any tour led by them makes me wish I could be in two places at once!
But as representatives of the proposed Anglican Pilgrim Centre in Santiago, Edie and I will be traveling with the “Walking Pilgrims”.
These seventeen pilgrims will be led by Bishop Doug Sparks of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, and his Canon, the aptly named Michelle Walker.
We will go with them from Sarria to Santiago, a distance of 100km or 66 miles. This distance is the least one can walk and still receive the Compostela, a document acknowledging completion of the Camino de Santiago.
As walking groups go, 17 is a large number.
Thus the walkers will inevitably spread out along the path as different walkers have different abilities and move at different speeds. Those who walk faster may finish as much as three hours ahead of the slower walkers.
As “sweepers” it will up to Edie and me to ensure the slowest walkers are able to walk as far and as slowly as they want or need to do and that regardless of how long or how far they walk, they too have a Buen Camino.
As always, it will be a joy to be a part of any camino pilgrimage and a privilege to see the effect that the camino has one those walking for the first time.
As usual, I will be happy to step onto the path and walk into Santiago(for the eighth time.)
The route may be the same, but the experience is always different.
Until the whole group convenes on Saturday, I have four days to catch up on My Anglican Pilgrim Friends work with the Bishop and his Canon, Spencer Reece, and ample time to play tourist.
But as the time difference is beginning to sting my eyes, I will say Buenos Noches, hasta mañana. N