Monday, June 16, 2014

A curious thing is that all of the stop signs are in English

No os amedrenteis por temor de ellos, ni os conturbeis, sino santificado a Dios el Señor en vuestros corazones. 1 Pedro 3,14-15

Cristo esta conmigo, !Que consolacion! Su presencia aleja todo mi temor; tengo la promesas de mi Salvador: no te dejara nunca; siempre contigo estoy.

It really wasn't in our pretty tight scheduled plan to be riding up the biggest mountain on the road in the middle of the day with an empty water bottle under a bright blue sky and a blustery wind that kept blowing off my hat, but it didn't matter. With every pedal stroke I was thinking, "No pain! No pain! No pain!"

In the morning I had made a mild attempt to request a Sabbath rest for my throbbing thighs since nothing else had brought even the slightest relief: the carefully coached stretches, the icy sea baths, the hot, hot showers, ibuprofen in regular doses, nothing. This steel grip was my constant companion. But we decided to try an hour or two and to see how that would go, especially since the first part was along a stunning sea coast.

And things weren't so bad this morning, singing over and over, until I forgot the words, because things hurt pretty much:
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning
My song shall rise to Thee

So as we stood at the bottom of a hill staring at yet another long, twisty cobbled stone road to the church, we hesitated. Should we release our plans to try and attend mass, and just stay on El Camino?

But, no in my heart, I knew up that hill we must go, whether it was a dutiful offering of my decimo, or an empty water bottle, or a prodding from the Lord, so up the hill we went. And the gold-covered altarpiece reaching up to the stone arches was a perfect meditation, as I knelt down on the creaking board:
Seraphim and cherubim,
All the saints adore You
God in three persons,
Blessed Trinity

But when we went to the back room, to get our credential stamped, the old, very old priest, fussed at us: you must go the the cathedral. That is where all the pilgrims go, this is nothing, a mere parochial church. And even when I mildly protested that we were very humble pilgrims, and this had been a wonderful place to pray, he shook his trembling finger at us, so we made plans to go down and yet another up, right after a cup of café con leche, right next to the little church and the park.

A man led in his friend into the bar for coffee as well. Actually, he had to heft him up on his shoulder and carry him, because of his leg, which sort of looked like someone had wrung out a twisted wet towel. And my heart knotted up as I watched. And I almost got up to pray for him, but not quite. And as they left, I knew I had to follow them out to in front of the church. "Excuse me. If you don't mind I would like to pray for your leg. The Lord God Almighty would like to show His great love and power by healing you in the name of His son Jesus Christ." They nodded, I knelt down on the stones, prayed, and they smiled and nodded a little teary-eyed, and headed off to church, and I back to my coffee. But a few minutes later, the man rushed in and said over and over, "Thank you, thank you! God bless you." And I smiled and nodded, and we headed over the big cathedral built in the thirteenth century, and there was a fruit stand out front, and a bar, and we decided to split a sausage and potato breakfast before heading on up the fabled hardest climb of El Camino.

And at the table next to us, was a nice man with his wife and son, enjoying the beautiful morning, except he had crutches and a huge ugly red swollen leg. And just before hopped back onto the bikes, I had to once again kneel down at his feet and pray for him. And both he and his wife were teary-eyed and smily at the same time, and we waved good-bye and they said, "Buen Camino," like everyone does.

But after we rode down those cobbled stones, I noticed. No pain. At all. None. And I kept waiting for the clench of death, but no, nothing, no pain. And even though we headed down the wrong path, and ended up doing a huge loop, retracing our route, it did not matter. No pain. No pain.

And as we turned up that great big long mountain, I sang "Holy, holy," and wondered about that kneeling and wondering when it was that God healed me, and "Drats, I should have asked those guys if they were totally healed too," when suddenly a white car drove past us, turned around and stopped, and the nice man with the crutches hopped out of the car, and threw them on the ground and ran across the street, and said, "I had to see you again, and to say thank you!"

And his was a long convoluted story, about spending long years seeking wealth and fame, and then he had this terrible accident, and some disease that left half his body numb, and he had been going to this Hindu master, who had been having him read the Life and Times of Jesus Christ, and had told him that soon two strangers were going to pray for his healing, and when I prayed for him, this huge surge of peace had filled him, and he knew his life was changed forever. And Nicole prophesied over him, that God was going to use him mightily, and there kneeling by the side of the road, we prayed for wisdom and truth to guide him in his path, and I ran across the ancient highway and hugged his wife who was crying happy tears, and I gave her my email, because he wanted to keep us up with all of the changes in his life. And it was his birthday, that day, the fifteenth of June, and this was a wonderful gift from God, a new life.

And as I slid my foot into the toe grip before heading on up the steep incline, I realized that more than just the pain in my body had evaporated like the morning mist. My heart and soul were also soaring free in the breeze.

Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.

And this is only the first third of our day. The rest, well, was also amazing. More to come.