St.Philip puts me in Lock Down – Day 6 – Puenta de la Reina to Estella

You know, of course, that it is still raining.

I had struggled to decide whether or not to put an American flag on my backpack, had finally decided yes  (after a multi-person intense search for a good flag patch) and it has been irrelevant for days now because my pack has been encased in a raincover.

The Frenchman in the bunk below me (yes, I am up top again) was up and zipping out of the room at 0530. I know I am not the only one he is disturbing, but it is the Camino so what can we say. 

An extra 15 minutes of sleep is very precious, however.

When I leave and go to the breakfast at the first cafe I find, who should I run into but the jovial Spanish men from last night! They greet the American as I take off my backpack and order a cafe con leche. We have a nice conversation about Mass, tapas, and the Camino. I ask them what work they do that gets them out of the house so early in the morning. They tell me they are retired. 

While I finish my breakfast, cafe, croissant and orange juice (they only make fresh squeezed) they leave. I go to pay and the waitress tells me that the gentlemen have paid for my breakfast! I am touched by their kindness and ask the waitress to thank them for me when she sees them again. 

She will not. They are pelegrinos.

I make my way out of town and walk past the lovely Conventos Comendadores. Since I ended up going to extra Masses the day before, I felt OK with just taking a quick look and leaving.. 

Ha,ha, those wacky saints have something else in mind for me.

Entering the Church at about 0830, too early for the usual 0900 Mass, I once again was blown away by the exquisite and baroque use of gold imagery in these little local Churches. Clearly, each place was designed to make sure that even those who could not read knew they were entering a special place, not of this earth. 

Suddenly, as I was standing in the back, preparing to leave, a priest came out and began Mass for the eight nuns who were sitting in the front. 

How could I leave? It was as if God said, ” Hey, You’re here just in time! I wanted to catch you before you left. I have a place at my table set just for you. Come, join us!”

When God says “I have a place for you,” how do you turn your back with a ” No, thanks, I already ate.”

So I stayed for Mass. But the weather outside was rainy and promised to get worse before the day was over, so I told myself I would leave right after communion.

St. Phil had other ideas, though. As I tried to leave, he hid the doorknob! It was a little dark inside and the overcast skies didn’t help, but I couldn’t find my way out! I felt around where I thought I had gotten in, felt hinges, but no knob where the knob should be. 

 I realized that leaving early was not in the plans for me that morning. I stayed the extra 3 minutes til the end of Mass. Then, a kindly man in the back of the Church saw my plight, lifted the latch (there was a latch, not a knob), and wished me a “Buen Camino” as he held the door open for me.

The saints look out for my best interests, even when I do not. And was that Phil playing a joke by “locking” me in? 

I chuckled as I began on one of the muddiest days yet of my Camino.

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