But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love. Genesis 39:21
And yesterday was a steadfast love sort of day. Brandon's GPS guide showed us the way, meter by meter, from Nice to Arles, 110 km. We still haven't seen any yellow arrows and all of the church doors are locked, so we have to settle for photos of ourselves lined up in front of the soaring spires and massive wooden portals barred shut, rather than having our pilgrims' passports stamped.
And really the French countryside is like His steadfast love, rich and deep and nourishing. We rode past ever so many vineyards and olive orchards and cherry trees, kilometer after kilometer, until we almost stopped noticing. Up hill and down, village after village of stone and mortar houses, one after another, the only variation being the color of the window shutters. And it was only when we hit the bumpy so-very-narrow twisting one way streets that we noticed it again, that quietly steady pulsing light. Follow me.
And I wandered around this town founded by the Romans in the first century, and through what was once a blood-drenched coliseum and imagined this pulsing Light reaching into all directions to all of His peoples, "Follow Me."
And Vincent Van Gogh lived in this town and painted sunflowers and outdoor starlit cafés. And he captured light so very well. And I so do not want to be distracted by train schedules and making sleeping arrangements and changing money or even eating food that each bite is more flavour-drenched than the last, that I don't notice the lovingkindness.
And tomorrow we start El Camino in earnest from Bayonne, although we plan to spend an extra day in San Sebastián.
And when Christian arrived at House Beautiful, “they discoursed together till late at night; and after they had committed themselves to their Lord for protection, they betook themselves to rest: the Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, whose window opened towards the sun-rising: the name of the chamber was Peace; where he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and sang--
"Where am I now? Is this the love and care
Of Jesus for the men that pilgrims are?”
And I feel the weight lifting. Not off of the back of my heavy-laden Great Dane bicycle. The packs are quite full. Even though Tracy has prepared two boxes of unnecessaries for mailing to Wilson and Fernanda's apartment in Lisbon.
But my windows are now open to the sun-rising, and name of this chamber is Peace, and I awake and sing, "Where am I?" Even though I darn sure can't pronounce it. Boy, I say "Merci," a lot. And Tracy taught me, "Beaucoup."
And oh my goodness, coming out of the French alps is amazing...with these low dense clouds wrapped around the snowcapped peaks as the train clickity clacks its way north through greenness that feels like hobbitons with welcoming lights glowing in the dusky windows reflecting in the once-again afternoon showers. And we are going to arrive in Bayonne, in theory, and wind our way along this splashing weaving life-giving river for two miles to arrive at Rivendell, our stay for the night. And the name of the chamber was Peace.
So, a true story. We unloaded from the train into a dark wet windy night. And there was no wifi to set up the GPS. And the toilettes were locked. And after we prayed for a girl from Cuba with MS who was setting out on El Camino, a manager came running out and gave us a map that wasn't exactly right, but we just had to go down to the right for a kilometer, then cross the bridge and go along the river for a while, and then his voice sort of faded. So we turned right, and crossed the bridge and it was dark and wet and windy and we made a bad turn the wrong way down a one way street and this guy on a motorcycle came over to yell at us. But then he looked at our damp map and damp spirits, and he smiled big, and he said, "Follow me." And I had already written those two words twice tonight on the train.
So we did. And there was no way we could have ever found this place, up and around and a couple of bad turns with our assorted blinking bike lights. Nope, not on our own.
And now we are at this great big old mansion sort of place spread out all over great big green lawns and it's time for bed.
And, yes I started every paragraph with a conjunction, which you are really not supposed to do.