2012 Walking the Way

The Way of Saint James, Day Thirteen

June 9, 13th Day of Will on the Way: Shades of Green Day 
Didn’t sleep well last night. Woke up with an itch under my arm and thought about what Patrick had said about bed bugs. While I didn’t think there were any I still was troubled in the remainder of the night’s sleep. Though he meant well Patrick was full of warnings for the journey ahead. It bugged me, no pun intended, that I let his negative perspective, offered as help, get under my skin, again no pun intended. When talking with Barb about it later she said it was a lesson in taking my space. Patrick, while a lovely person, did have a big personality. I allowed myself to be impacted by it and seemed to shrink in the face of it. Learning to be present with others while holding my own was part of the gift of meeting him I now see. 

The last dream of the night was one where I kept trying to go in one direction only to be thwarted and brought back to the same place I began, like a compass needle that wants to point north but another force pulls it to the south. When I thought about it the next day I realized it was a metaphor for my own life: I have to change the fundamentals of my own being if I want to go in a new direction, otherwise the patterns of the past will keep pulling me back to where I started. 

We had breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel. It was the best part of the stay other than having the WiFi connection. The coffee was excellent and we had a croissant as well as bread, butter and jam. On departing the hotel we headed for the boulangerie and a little grocery store we found the previous afternoon. We skipped sandwiches and settled for a whole wheat baguette with cheese and fruit from the grocery. Having replenished our stocks we found the chamin and started climbing again, leaving the Rhone valley behind and now entering the Loire region. 

The walk took us by vineyards and for the first time fruit orchards of apples and pear trees. The day was cool and sunny, though clouds were on the horizon and we felt it could quickly shift to rain. I had decided to change my walking pattern as my feet continued to hurt and I knew that this was a part of the message of last night’s dream. I now paid attention to every step and lovingly thanked the earth for carrying me forth on the journey. I have enjoyed walking fast and powerfully in the past and was proud of the distance I could cover in a day. In fact I had expected to cover 30 K a day easily on this Way of St. Jacques. 

Now I paid attention to each step and each breath going forward. Doing so brought me in touch with my heart and all the pent up emotion of the previous week came pouring forth in tears and weeping. On this journey all of my fears and insecurities were being confronted and all those places I would normally hide weren’t to be found. I had to face my fears and move through them and be truly free of them. Just then we walked by a grotto with a statue of St Joseph holding a young Jesus by the hand. It seemed a perfect reflection of my experience in that moment. 

The walk continued to take us to higher elevations. We were struck by all the different shades of green in the landscape. Everthing was so lush and verdent. We were happy to to be in the mountains again. While quite different from the hills we climbed after leaving Geneve, they were yet comforting in a way that flater parts of the walk didn’t seem to offer us. The architecture of the houses and buildings also changed. We now saw square houses and structures built of brown stone. All uniform in style and design no matter where we went. 

We passed through the village of Bessey and found a little welcome center for pilgrims. There was a source for fresh drinking water as well as a map of the region. It gave a history of the route from Geneve to Le Puy. We were surprised to learn that it had only been officially established in 1998 in response to the increased interest of pilgrims walking the Way. 

After Bessey, the climbing got steeper. However, the weather remained comfortable. We stopped for lunch and rested for a while, taking a nice long break. As we sat enjoying our lunch several cyclists and hikers went by. As we were packing up to begin again one of the hikers waved as she walked by. 

Down the road we caught up with her and she asked asked us if we were friends of Mikaela whom she had recently met on the chamin. This is part of the magic of the Way. Friends of new friends passing on greetings and messages to one another. She was German and her name was Barbara. She had also met Patrick and Claude earlier in the week. Barbara left us to stay at a nearby campground where she was to meet Mikaela and promised to pass on our greetings. We wondered if we might run into Mikaela again soon? 

By late afternoon we had reached our destination of St. Julien Molin Molette, an old mill town in one of the valleys we were traversing. We had a reservation at a B&B but had vague directions to its location. We found it as we wound our way out of town discovering our domicile was the chateau we had seen in the distance as we were heading towards the village. 

It was a beautiful mansion built, we later learned, in the 1860’s. It had once been the home of the town’s mill owners. However, a hundred years later when industry was going abroad, the owners fell in hard times and had to sell it. On arriving we were met by a lovely woman who showed us to our bedroom on the third floor. It was a big spacious chamber with French Windows overlooking a charming garden. The adjoining bathroom had a tub to soak in and we both took advantage of a bath before going down to dinner at 7:30. 

By then we were both quite tired and hoped we wouldn’t have to make conversation with the other guests staying there. We entered a large and beautiful wood paneled dining room with tall ceilings and a long table running down the middle. There we saw three other couples seated and two places set for us. Oh well what could we do! C’est la via! as they say in France. 

Fortunately the pair we were seated next to did speak some English and we didn’t have to work so hard to understand and be understood. The host and chef, the husband of the woman we had met on arriving, came in with an appertif. Both Barb and I declined, as we also later did with the wine. The man was a large jolly fellow with a wide girth and big mustache. He tried to cajole Barb into having at least one glass of wine but with no success. 

Dinner began with an unusual salad of cold lentils with little bits of ham, served in individual toureens, very yummy. This was followed by delicious roasted chicken, a flan for dessert, with coffee and tea being served in an adjacent drawing room. We enjoyed the meal and the conversation was pleasent with the young couple from Lyon, but by the time coffee was served we were ready to retire. We excused ourselves at the soonest opportunity and went to our lovely room upstairs with our comfortable feather beds. I wrote the blog for a while and Barb was soon fast asleep. 

Day Thirteen Photos 

“Barb and Will with family who came to our rescue when we had no place to stay. My bed at Villa Jenette. Old Carmalite Convent near Assieu.The Way of St. James. “ 

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