Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 3

Saturday, May 4

A cool and drizzly morning turns into sunshine so slowly I barely notice. Norm and I trek together for hours as old friends, cussing and discussing interspersed with comfortable silence. I stop a pilgrim and ask him to take our picture, proof of a newborn eternal friendship.
Entering Pamplona, the city known for its "running of the bulls" festival, we turn down a crowded street and encounter a throng of late-middle-aged people (not your usual flash mob types) singing Basque folk songs. Couldn't understand a word, but felt their patriotism and heartbeats in the songs, and am grateful that we humans can have group identity within a culture that bonds us to each other beyond  mere geographic chance.
Norm's wife is meeting him in Pamplona, so he prearranged their hotel accommodations. I glance toward the first albergue, then decide I will splurge and stay at the hotel also, dreaming of a long, hot shower. Turns out it is Pinchos Week in Pamplona (another random gift from God)! Pinchos is the Basque word for tapas, and it's kinda like Restaurant Week in the States: all the bars compete for the title of best pinchos. After showers, we visit 3 of last year's winning bars, washing down their amazing concoctions with local beers.

Back to the hotel for Norm to meet up with his wife, and I take my second long, hot shower and wash my clothes. Seeing all of the dirt and caked mud and small stones and grass and stuff coming off of myself and my clothes as it settles into the white caulked tile floor of the gloriously large and clean shower make me realize just how dirty I have become. My guilt over the mess I leave for the maid service (I try to clean up, but it's still quite evident a homeless person has been here) make me think of my dirty heart. It's so easy to rationalize: I'm not an evil person, I'm not mean-spirited, I do good deeds. I don't seem too bad when I compare myself with other dirty people. But when I enter the presence of God, like this modern immaculate hotel, my filth and stench is revealed for what it is: real and deep-seated. I thank God for chipping through the protective coating of my heart to reveal to me my need for him. It's a relief to know I stink and God still loves me. I pray for forgiveness and vow to quit comparing myself to others, but to compare myself only to God and true holiness.

Then, I meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Minnesota and we go hit a few more bars.

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