October 2009

  • our wonderful friends and their kids
  • our friends’ awesome house
  • beautiful fall colors
  • gorgeous summer weather
  • they prescribe teas instead of medicines
  • A LOT of Germans speak excellent English
  • you can get all kinds of goodies in the grocery stores. Cream of chicken soup! Cream of mushroom soup! Cumin! Jalepenos!
  • food is (comparatively) cheap here
  • potatoes are considered healthy
  • real milk is the same price as the crappy shelf milk…so you can actually afford the real deal
  • amazing public transportation
  • Starbucks (for the hot chocolate, of course)
  • Pizza Hut
  • clean air

A man wearing this sweater led the first session of the conference I attended this past week.

the sweater

I will let you draw your own conclusions on how the remainder of the conference went.

Jake: The human butt is really just a big chunk of muscle.

me: Well, not for everyone. For some people it is just a big chunk of fat.

Jake: No, it’s like on a chicken, most of the muscle is concentrated in the breast area. On humans most of the muscle is in the butt. There’s some good eatin’ back there.

me: You should never eat people. Some things are more shameful than dying. Even if we were freezing and you died first, I would not eat you.

Jake: Well if I was starving I would probably go cannibal.

me: <gasp> YOU MEAN IF I DIE FIRST YOU WOULD EAT ME??!??!? It’s a good thing I have more fat on my body; I’m likely to live longer.

In O2, Richard Dahlstrom compares spiritual disciplines to breathing- O2, oxygen, breathing – get it? and makes uses this comparison to encourage balance – just as you need balance between inhaling and exhaling – in the way one incorporates the disciplines into life. It is a pretty nifty comparison, really, and he uses it to also address the way certain movements in modern Christianity tend to emphasize “exhaling” over “inhaling” or vice versa. He doesn’t name any names but I could instantly think of a few examples, and this whole inhaling/exhaling thing exactly nails down my vague uncomfortable feeling towards some of these movements/personalities. And he also points out that some of these disciplines will feel more natural to you because of your personality and/or giftings, and that is precisely why you should practice some that don’t feel at all natural.

Anyway. The exhaling disciplines are journey, service, hospitality, and generosity; the inhaling disciplines are appreciating creation, solitude, prayer, reading & memorizing Scripture, silence, and sabbath. He discusses each in a chapter and then at the end explains that at various times in your life certain exhaling disciplines will be a bigger part of your life than others, and certain inhaling ones will be a bigger part, but you still need to make sure you are inhaling and exhaling.

On the whole, I liked this book and would recommend it, particularly if you are new to the concept of spiritual disciplines. I do think it could use some tweaking; some of the disciplines are lacking in concrete ideas in how to incorporate them into everyday (or weekly, or whatever) life, and some of the chapters seemed a bit rambly. In particular there is a chapter entitled “Artisans of Hope: Stepping into God’s Kingdom Story” listed under the exhaling disciplines, when “being an artisan” is never presented as a discipline; the chapter is a lengthy explanation of a phrase Dahlstrom invented and clearly loves to use. This concept could have easily been explained at the first mention of this term – or if it truly needed its own chapter, I think it would have felt more natural along with the chapters preceding the disciplines section. Also, starting in this section the phrase “colors of hope” starts to get way too much usage. If you are going to use something 6 times on one page, it is generally advisable to re-word it a bit or find a synonym.

But, all in all, I think this is a great way to think about spiritual disciplines that feels do-able and not at all legalistic. Definitely worth a read.

You can read other reviews from the blog tour here.

I re-read A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson while walking because it covers the Psalms of Ascents – the pilgrimage Psalms. I read a chapter every day (starting 2 days before we started walking) – every chapter for one Psalm – and I would absolutely do that again. Absolutely.

Day 0: travel to Madrid. Getting nervous & worried: what if I forgot something? What if my pack is too heavy? What was I thinking?

Day 1: train to León.
song in my head: Imperial March.
verse I thought of this morning: “we are always being given over to death…” (2 Corinthians 4:11)
My bag is heavier than I wanted. I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted. I am nervous and worried.

“Be graceful and grateful in representing the reign of God.”

Day 2: San Martín
thought this morning: what have I gotten myself into?
verse that popped into my head: “strengthen your weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12)
Scheduled to stop in Villadangos; walked 5k extra to make tomorrow shorter. Icy cold shower. Knees & feet tired but ok; group walked more or less together all day. Had tortilla patata for dinner – eggs, potatoes, and green peppers cooked together in a skillet. Delicious! and filling.

Day 3: Astorga
Yesterday, at the end of the day, I thought this wasn’t so bad, that I can do this. Today I think I am in hell. Most of the day spent hobbling on a blister (literally, on the bottom of my foot) which became a blood blister. Prayed “God, help me” with every step. The rest of the group left me & Jake behind once we got into town, which wouldn’t have been so irritating if they hadn’t been insisting we stay together. Once we finally found the albergue, they had people to care for foot wounds so I paid them a visit. The guy took one look and told me to lay down. He drained it and then told me – through Esther, my friend and interpreter, that he was going to put some iodine in it and it would hurt a little.
me: (partially sitting up) IN?!?!??! He’s going to put iodine IN it? That will not hurt a little…it will hurt like a…
Esther tried to convince me that the syringe I saw was for the person in the other bed but I didn’t believe her. And it wasn’t. He poked the needle under the skin and injected iodine the fires of hell into my foot. I shouted something but did not flinch. After 45 seconds or so I lost feeling in the last 2 toes of my foot because it hurt so bad. They told me I was a torera (bullfighter) for taking the iodine injection like that. They also told me I will be able to walk tomorrow. We’ll see.

Had to get new shoes (closed toe) to prevent infection.

lesson on human nature: people who are all “Hey guys, wait up!” when they’re in the back of the pack don’t bother to look behind them when they’re in the front.

Day 4: Foncebadón
Once again, we went farther than scheduled in order to shorten tomorrow. At the beginning I wasn’t doing well, but either the prayers or the Advil* paid off because I started feeling better. Still praying “God, help me” with every step. Heels & arches hurt, but open foot wounds protected from infection so it was a tradeoff. Beast of a hill today; thought I might have a heart attack but survived. Worried because tomorrow is mostly downhill, and blisters are all on the balls of my feet & ends of my toes, plus downhill is hard on my knee.

The albergue is nice, with a hippie-ish vibe, but the town is basically the 2 albergues and nothing else. Not even a small store. Met some nice Germans and talked with them quite a bit; they are doing Camino for real and started in St. Jean Pied de Port. They have been walking 3 weeks. One of them mentioned he had gotten a blood blister early on so I asked him how long it had taken to heal. “From then until…now,” he answered after inspecting his foot. So two weeks or so. Great.

*Spanish ibuprofen is 600mg instead of 200mg, which is a nice surprise after you’ve been downing them all day.

You can read some other points of view from the trip here: http://thecamino.wordpress.com/
You can see my pictures (all landscape-y) from Camino here.