The Narrow Way

As we made our way from Auch to where we currently are, Esterencuby, yesterday, I thought ot the spiritual teaching about walking spiritual path. One way is the broad and easy way that leads to "destruction." The other is the straight and narrow way that leads to life and enlightenment. The actual physical routes we have travelled have been exceedingly narrow but nowhere near straight. More about that next posting.

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We are in the Basque region of France. Though I have been in this part of the world before I don't think I had noticed how very different it is from the rest of France. To get to where we are, we had to cross the Pyrenees. The views were spectacular. 

We stopped at three places along the way.

 In one of the main pilgrim churches

In one of the main pilgrim churches

One place was Navarrenx. This town played an important part in the Wars of Religion. Now, there's an oxymoron for you! It was also an important halt on the pilgrim way. 

We had time not only to explore this church, still in use, but also to explore this defended town.

At this point we deviated, because of road availability, from the Via Podiensis and got on anther pilgrim route, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. As information about the pilgrimage to Santiago grew, different routes developed. As they get closer to the border of Spain, they begin to come together.  We are getting closer to this becoming the case.

We stopped along the way and had Vespers in the atrium of a very ancient church. As is true with these ancient churches, the cemetery was right next to it.

 It is becoming more and more common as we enter churches like this, first begun being built in the 10th century . . .

It is becoming more and more common as we enter churches like this, first begun being built in the 10th century . . .

Then we came on to our current location. It is as remote a place as I have visited. There is no cell phone coverage at all. I am amazed I can post these musings. The road we travelled down the mountainside was perilious with parts of it having been washed out by the recent rains. In several places cars approaching our vehicle had to back up, sometimes for quite a distance in order for us to make way. At times, the road itself was so narrow I wondered about our bus driver's ability to squeeze the coach forward. But she did. We were sitting on the front of the bus and I was able to get videos of this with my iPad.

 To find statues like this. They are put in places of prominence near or in the chancel area.

To find statues like this. They are put in places of prominence near or in the chancel area.

We will have to traverse this narrow and frightening road several times because we are making this place our point of departure to a place where three pilgrimages routes come together.

Several times a day, at our worship services or on the coach, Peter Sills reads to us from histories of the pilgrimage and from his fictionalized account, based on history of a man who made this same pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. In two days this part of our journey will conclude. Then, four of us will go on to Santiago.

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In the talks Peter has given as well as in experiencing this journey I am reminded how difficult it must have been for those first pilgrims. I know I have written about this theme before in these postings. If one wants to learn any valuable skill, there are hours of practice to put into the matter. It is not all drudgery. There is a pay off but not without the practice. 

The place where we are staying is run by a multi-generation family. They are fond of dogs. After we arrived and were refreshing ourselves, one befriended Sherry. 

 It's not all serious stuff!

It's not all serious stuff!

More to come.
Bill Kerley
Esterncuby, France