A Table on the Road: Saugues, France

Joseph.Jacob.crop.800Correspondence from the Way on April 30, 2016. Le Puy du Velay (Via Podiensis) to Santiago. Reprinted from Pinewood News.

Today I saw a beautiful young Italian woman laughing at the weather with snowflakes clinging to her dark eyelashes. The flakes were large and falling slowly until the intermittent wind drove them fast into our faces. It’s the last day of April near Le Puy, France, and I didn’t expect snow.

Everytime I’ve brought lightweight gloves to France or Spain to walk one of the ancient pilgrimage routes known best in the US as the Camino de Santiago, I haven’t needed them, so I left them behind. Today I would have loved to have a pair. I kept  telling myself that I really couldn’t get frostbite in 20F-degree weather, but it still didn’t help my numbing fingers.

08-DAY FOUR Le Sauvage to Aumont-Aubrac (10)800

Today I also saw hundreds of yellow daffodils decorating a carpet of grass through which a small, meandering stream flowed. I’d never seen daffodils, called jonquils here in France, in the wild before and the contrast  between the yellow and the green stopped me in my tracks. That was before the snow started on Les Chemins de St Jacques.

08-DAY FOUR Le Sauvage to Aumont-Aubrac (12)800

Later, after the falling snow subsided for awhile, I saw four men in the forest standing, talking and laughing next to a gate in our pathway. It seemed a good spot to stop and talk to the pilgrims who were catching up with us from behind, what with another field of jonquils within sight, this time with their cheery faces turned down towards a bed of snow. Evidently this place had inspired others before us, because scrawled across an otherwise wordless yield sign nearby were the words, “I love mi lyfe.”

07-DAY THREE Sauges to Le Sauvage.bw (8)800

“Would you like a banana?” Pierre offered to each of the other three men and me. It was an awefully big bunch of very long bananas — too much for one man to be carrying in his backpack. “Please, have a banana,” he offered again after each of us had politely declined.

“Well, if we can help you out,” Joseph, the Belgian laughed. Each pilgrim took one and in unison peeled their bananas and took a bite.
“I have to take a picture of this,” I said taking my camera out. They all hammed it up for me and I thought, “What a beautiful and healthful Camino family I have found here in France. If I were taking this photo in Spain, the guys would be lifting their beers, not their bananas.”

07-DAY THREE Sauges to Le Sauvage (17)800

Later at lunch, Joseph showed me a wooden, hand-carved shell the size of a small snail. The scallop shell, the symbol of St James, held a special story for Joseph. “Yesterday, it was hot and I wanted something to drink, and I saw a sign that read ‘NENE.’ After walking to the sign, I saw a man whose clothes were so dirty. He needed a haircut. Normally I would not stop and speak to such a man. But I wanted something to drink.”

“He sat at a table on the road. On the same table that he had a red wine bottle, glass half drunk, bread, cheese, he also collected machine parts, old oil cans, petrol cans and rusty tools. The table was dark and dirty and behind it, he sat in a wheelchair.”

“But the guy was so happy that in a few moments we were exchanging about our families and lives. I spent 20 minutes with the man. He told me that he had a job to install high electric cable all over the world. But then he had an accident and fell.

So he came back here, to his parents’ house in this small village. He told me that it is his pleasure and his life to stay and invite pilgrims for something to drink and talk to them during their pilgrimage.”
“He gave me this shell,” Joseph said fingering it lovingly. I asked him, ‘How much do you want?’ ‘No, it is a gift,’ the man said. It was my first unordinary happening on the Camino.”

“When I finally walked away, within 200 yards of leaving his place I had tears in my eyes. ‘Joseph, do you now understand why you are walking Compostela?’ I heard. This guy opened my eyes. I was wondering why I was on this way. It (the reason) is for exchanging with others. I’m not only walking the Camino for myself but for the community that I find here. I am part of what is making this man’s happiness and he is part of mine.”

08-DAY FOUR Le Sauvage to Aumont-Aubrac (18)800

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Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago

What about pilgrimage helps you let go of fears and find peace that passes understanding? How can you be still and hear God’s voice as you trek the ancient pilgrimage route? How will you prepare your heart for a closer walk with God on El Camino? Find answers to these and other questions in Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago, a daily devotional and walking guide.

Click here to read more on Amazon…

Included in the spiritual walking guide:

  • Daily scripture readings – no need to carry a heavy Bible
  • Meditations that help you hear God’s direction for your life
  • Questions for reflection to make the most of your pilgrimage
  • Details about where to sleep, daily distances walked and essential websites
  • Cool insider travel tips
  • How to procure a Pilgrim Credential
  • How to follow the route without maps.

Here then is a guide ideally suited to you, the pilgrim, who is seeking direction, both spiritually and geographically while walking El Camino from León, Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

With space to journal thoughts and revelations, you’ll hold onto this book as a keepsake of your pilgrimage along The Way for many years to come.

The three-in-one book by award-winning travel writer, Photo of book cover: Spiritual and Walking GuideStacey Wittig, offers daily devotionals with scriptures for The Way and thought-provoking questions, space to journal, and a walking guide.

If you are starting your Camino pilgrimage at León, Spain, or a place west of León, then this is the book for you. Click here to learn more or buy now.

Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago now available on Amazon.com

What about pilgrimage helps you let go of fears and find peace that passes understanding? How can you be still and hear God’s voice as you trek the ancient pilgrimage route? How will you prepare your heart for a closer walk with God on El Camino? Find answers to these and other questions in Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago, a daily devotional and walking guide.Photo of book cover: Spiritual and Walking Guide

Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago is now available on Amazon.com as both a small, portable paper book and on Kindle for your tablet or phone.

Click here to read more on Amazon…

Included in the spiritual walking guide:

  • Daily scripture readings – no need to carry a heavy Bible
  • Meditations that help you hear God’s direction for your life
  • Questions for reflection to make the most of your pilgrimage
  • Details about where to sleep, daily distances walked and essential websites
  • Cool insider travel tips
  • How to procure a Pilgrim Credential
  • How to follow the route without maps.

Here then is a guide ideally suited to you, the pilgrim, who is seeking direction, both spiritually and geographically while walking El Camino from León, Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

With space to journal thoughts and revelations, you’ll hold onto this book as a keepsake of your pilgrimage along The Way for many years to come.

The three-in-one book offers daily devotionals with scriptures for The Way and thought-provoking questions, space to journal, and a walking guide.

You’ll find handy recommendations for:

  • daily stop and start points,
  • accommodations,
  • and travel plans.

The journal-like guide gives you pages to write your thoughts and revelations. There is space to document dates and distance walked on El Camino de Santiago.

Author Stacey Wittig has walked over 880 km on Camino pilgrimage routes in Spain and France. Years of backpacking experience coupled with her love of the Lord makes a winning combination for those looking for a lightweight, all-in-one, daily Camino devotional and walking guide for El Camino de Santiago pilgrimages. The scriptures for The Way devotional were prayerfully considered for your Camino guide.

If you are starting your Camino pilgrimage at León, Spain, or a place west of León, then this is the book for you. Click here to learn more or buy now.