This isn’t your normal Greenwich vacation. Nantucket. Martha’s Vineyard. Cape Cod. That’s more like it. This is grueling, especially with blisters all over my feet.

But the Camino teaches you much that an ordinary vacation never imparts. One lesson is persistence – pushing on when you don’t feel like it or want to go further. It’s literally one foot in front of the other, head down, marching forward. Resilience and persistence are gifts that we all need to strengthen and develop.

As I walked, I continued to listen to Johnny Cash reading the New Testament aloud. I have now listened to the four gospels, the Book of Acts, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and his First Letter to the Corinthians. I’ve listened to each book in it’s entirety at one time. What a treat. His letters, after all, were meant to be read aloud, not silently as we read them outside of church.

Paul is such a bright, forceful, persuasive, and passionate Christian leader and theologian. I’m struck by his brilliant thinking and complete devotion to Jesus, whom he never met. I hope to organize a Bible study this winter to explore Paul’s writing. There is so much to ponder and learn from him.

A strange thing happened this afternoon. I stopped to take a break. My feet were killing me. It was almost unbearable. I had a Coke with ice – my favorite Camino refresher. Then I took two ibuprofen and ordered a pilgrim lunch of soup, a mini pizza and an expresso. (This was the only thing on the menu!) When I returned to walking, 90% of my pain had disappeared. I had the distinct feeling that someone had been praying for me.

I’ve taken two ibuprofen, drank plenty of Cokes, rested and ate and yet never experienced such a dramatic sense of seeing pain dissipate. Hmmm!

As soon as I started my trek again, I ran into a lovely French couple from Marseille – Serge and Patrice. They are both now retired and are lovely. For the next 90 minutes we conversed in French, and I realized how meaningful it is for me to meet and speak to people in different languages while walking the Camino. The Way becomes a fascinating language lab for improving language skills, encountering amazing people in the process and learning from them.

Inside one of the churches along today’s trek, there is an ancient inscription that was found while renovating the building recently It dates back to 862 A.D. to an earlier church that sat upon this location. The inscription is the first inscription outside of Spain that mentions Santiago and makes it clear that by 862 A.D. the Camino route that I trekking to see where the Apostle James lies buried was known to many. Such history!

With love and prayers from Portugal,

Marek