-UVALDE, Texas, May 24, 2022 – An 18-year-old shoots and kills 2 teachers and at least 19 children. The final death tally is unknown as many more remain hospitalized.
-BUFFALO, May 14, 2022 – A white gunman killed 10 Black people inside a supermarket in a racially motivated attack. He was charged and remains in jail without bail.
– NEW YORK CITY, April 12, 2022 – In one of the most violent attacks in the history of New York’s transit system, 23 people were wounded when a 62-year-old man activated a smoke bomb and opened fire in a subway. He was taken into custody the next day.
– OXFORD, Nov. 30, 2021 – Four students were killed and seven other people were wounded after a teenager opened fire at a high school in Oxford, Michigan.
– INDIANAPOLIS, April 16, 2021 – A former FedEx employee who had been under psychiatric care shot eight people dead and injured several others at an Indiana facility of the shipping company before taking his own life.
– LOS ANGELES, March 31, 2021 – Four people were killed, one of them a child, in a shooting at an office building in suburban Los Angeles before the suspect was taken into custody.
– BOULDER, March 22, 2021 – A mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado left 10 people dead, including a police officer.
– ATLANTA, March 16, 2021 – Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were shot dead in a string of attacks at day spas in and around Atlanta. A male suspect was arrested.
– MILWAUKEE, Feb. 26, 2020 – A gunman opened fire at the Molson Coors Beverage Co brewing complex in Milwaukee, killing five co-workers before he committed suicide.
– DAYTON, Aug. 4, 2019 – A gunman dressed in body armor opened fire in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people including his sister. Police killed the shooter.
– EL PASO, Aug. 3, 2019 – A man fatally shot 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. A statement, believed to have been written by the suspect, called the attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Authorities arrested the shooter.
– VIRGINIA BEACH, May 31, 2019 – A disgruntled public utility employee opened fire on co-workers at a municipal building in Virginia, killing 12 people before he was fatally shot by police.
– AURORA, Feb. 15, 2019 – A man opened fire at an Illinois factory after being fired, killing five workers before he was slain by police.
– THOUSAND OAKS, Nov. 7, 2018 – A former Marine combat veteran killed 12 people in a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. He then killed himself.
– PITTSBURGH, Oct. 27, 2018 – A gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue near Pittsburgh and fired on congregants gathered for a Sabbath service, killing 11.
– SANTA FE, May 18, 2018 – A 17-year-old student opened fire at his high school outside Houston, Texas, killing nine students and a teacher, before surrendering to officers.
– PARKLAND, Feb. 14, 2018 – A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and educators.
– SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Nov. 5, 2017 – A man thrown out of the U.S. Air Force for beating his wife and child shot 26 people fatally at a rural Texas church where his in-laws worshipped before killing himself.
– LAS VEGAS, Oct. 1, 2017 – A gunman opened fire on a country music festival from a 32nd-floor hotel suite, killing 58 people before taking his own life.
– ORLANDO, June 12, 2016 – A gunman fatally shot 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub, before he was shot dead by police.
– SAN BERNARDINO, Dec. 2, 2015 – A husband and wife killed 14 people at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino in Southern California before dying in a shootout with police.
– ROSEBURG, Oct 1, 2015 – A gunman stalked onto an Oregon college campus and opened fire, killing nine people before police shot him to death.
– CHARLESTON, June 17, 2015 – A white supremacist killed nine Black churchgoers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was sentenced to death.
– WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2013 – A former Navy reservist working as a government contractor killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. He was shot dead by police.
– NEWTOWN, Dec. 14, 2012 – A heavily armed gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children from five- to 10-years old, in a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
– AURORA, July 20, 2012 – A masked gunman killed 12 people at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado. He received multiple life sentences.
– FORT HOOD, Nov. 5, 2009 – An army major and psychiatrist opened fire at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas, killing 13 people.

…and this is only a list of the more notorious. There have been 27 SCHOOL shooting, and over 200 MASS shootings so far in 2022. The year is not yet half over.
Pete Schloss

Mass Shootings in 2022 | Gun Violence Archive

 

I like metaphors. They are tools that help me to understand, and also to explain to others my thoughts and experiences. Christine has observed over the years that I think in metaphors. Among my favorites are those with their origins in Nature. One might say that Nature provides me with a pantry from which I find a wealth of ingredients for the recipes that slow cook in the oven of my mind, finally emerging as my thoughts. Ah!! Another metaphor.

“Nature abhors a vacuum” and “Nature Adapts” are two truisms that have recently been percolating in my head. Decades ago, while backpacking in the high elevation tundra of the Rocky Mountains I came to understand that extreme altitude with its sever climate and very short growing season does not deter Nature.

Nature adapts. Flowers grow and come to bloom faster than those at sea-level. Foliage hugs the ground, taking advantage of the smallest stones for protection against the frigid winds. Bristlecone pines live for thousands of years, twisting like arthritic old men in an effort to avoid presenting one side too long to the prevailing onslaught. The arctic tundra teems with life in spite of the challenges. And so it has been with us these past years under the assault of Covid.

Since retirement in 2015 Christine and I have gloried in travel, that is until Covid-imposed restrictions hit. With time on our hands, and like Nature, we sought to fill the vacuum. Christine devours books. She sews, creating marvelous quilts and hangings, one after another. She happily lends a hand with transporting the grandchildren to their various activities. She has adapted.

For my part I filled the pages of my “Thoughts” with the narratives of our former travels across the United States in 2010 by bicycle and our 2013 Camino hike across Spain. I “tinkered” with lesser and greater projects at our homes in Kansas City and Colorado. I exercise. This last winter I rediscovered skiing, and for nearly 2 years I have pursued the daily online study of German through Duolingo. As of yesterday my study reached 610 consecutive days. Like Nature, we apparently abhor the vacuum of being sedentary.

It is not only through action that we have occupied time, but also with imaginings. Evening conversations about where we have been in life and where we might be going. Discussions not only of places but of relationship. Our time under the shadow of Covid has been productive in its own way. BUT always there has remained the desire to return to our post-retirement road… “the next thing.”

In February of this year we were scheduled to take a cruise to Central America and through the Panama Canal. News of cruises that did not end well due to rampant onboard contagion caused us to rethink and cancel that plan. On impulse we booked a flight to New York City and just returned last week from 5 days in “The Big Apple” where we enjoyed fair weather and the excitement of the sights and sounds of Manhattan.

Included was a disappointing production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, staring Daniel Craig. Pictures and narrative of those wonderful 5 days may show up in a next post.

Returning to Kansas City we found that we brought back unwelcome souvenirs in the form of Covid infections. With moderate symptoms we are on the mend thanks to quick home testing diagnosis, being triple vaccinated, and promptly receiving the remarkable new prescription for the anti-viral, Paxlovid.

I turned 70 last month, entering with some trepidation the eighth decade of my life. (Yes, 70 is the start of the eighth decade, zero to 10 being the first one, 10 to 20 the second, 20 to 30 the third, and so forth.) The horizon of travel (and life) is uncertain, growing shorter and more doubtful each day. Like flowers on the tundra, the “season” to pursue what we love is limited. Thus we find that unconsciously we have leapt from a “next thing” to a string of “next things”.

The Universe willing, we hit the road next month for 8 weeks with our camping trailer, bound for Labrador and Newfoundland, Canada.

In late September I fly to Portugal with the intention of again hiking the Camino, this time beyond Santiago de Compostela on to Finisterre and Muxia in Spain.

Christine, who will be in the south of France, will join me in Barcelona in November where we will board a ship bound for the west coast of Africa, crossing the Southern Atlantic Ocean to Brazil, Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Finally, we have decided to return to piloting the canals of England, having reserved a 62 foot long “narrowboat” in April and May of 2023.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and Nature adapts. Apparently, so do we.
Peace everyone, and “stay tuned”. Pete

Kansas City, May 24, 2022.

My primary motivation in writing the 53-part reflection on walking the Camino in 2013 was to assemble the “chapters” into a book to gift to our 9 grandchildren. This is the sixth such volume I have created to share our life experiences with then.

The book, “The Way, Our Way”, has now been electronically assembled, lacking only an “Introduction” before sending it off to the printer. 280 pages in all and measuring 12”x12”, it is a project that I am proud to give them. We hope that in time the grandchildren (or great-grandchildren!) may find the words and images inspiring.

The book will not be available to the public, even though the contents have been presented over the preceding months on my website. Part 1: “The Way” it Began | Peter M. Schloss, J.D. – Mediator. (mediationkc.com)

Since I have shared the 53 “chapters” with you readers, I thought it appropriate that I also share my “Introduction”:

“The Butterfly Effect”

Dear Grandchildren.

Conventional wisdom holds that the keys to a life well lived are focus and dedicated effort toward a goal. I believe that to be true, but only in part. Life is also a lottery where chance often comes into play. Seemingly insignificant opportunities and events occur throughout life which later loom large as having been life changing. It is only when we gaze into the rear-view mirror of our experiences that we can fully appreciate how small decisions set into motion events with monumental consequences. Here is just one example from my life with direct consequences for your parents and each of you:

In June of 1974 I accepted a job with the State of Missouri as a Probation and Parole Officer. I was given the option of an assignment in either St. Louis or Kansas City. I chose Kansas City solely on the basis that I had never been there before.

On July 7th I arrived in Kansas City with my small dog, “Samson Socrates”. Everything that I owned fit in my 1965 Dodge. My only furniture was a small 1920’s oak typing table that was salvaged from the remodeling of an old Chicago suburban high school. It served as my dinner table, and an orange Coleman ice chest was my chair. I secured a very small studio apartment ($119.00 per month rent, including utilities) which had a “Murphy Bed” that pulled out of the wall, each night transforming my living room into my bedroom. The apartment was little more than a place to stay dry and warm. I knew no one in Kansas City. It was an emotionally bleak time spent mostly focused on work and my dog.

Samson provided me with some companionship. Taking him on long walks allowed for exploration of the neighborhoods and nearby shopping district. Occasionally, a stranger would stop to pet “Sam” and offer me some non-work related human contact. On one such evening’s walk a long-haired man who appeared to be in his 20’s called to me from the front porch of an older home that faced the busy Southwest Trafficway.  Over the noise of the traffic he yelled out, “Hey, what’s up?” I responded that I was just out walking my dog. “Want a beer?” I was surprised by the offer, and gratefully accepted.

We spoke, I finished the beer, and then as I prepared to leave, I offered my thanks. “You don’t have to thank me, this isn’t my party. The hostess is inside or out back.” I decided to extend my stay and human contact by seeking out “the hostess”. Other folks inside directed me to the back yard where I introduced myself to an attractive young woman. At her urging I became the beneficiary of a second beer, and we began to talk. I spoke of my arrival in Kansas City, my work, my travels, and more. She reciprocated, but mostly with questions that encouraged me to share more of my “story”. We sat beneath a huge oak tree as time stood still. The encounter lasted nearly 3 hours. It was with regret that I finally said that I had to be going. My spirits lifted as she asked if I might come by and visit again.

If you haven’t already guessed, that young woman was your Grandmother. We began to date, but not without a few “speedbumps” of my own creation. We married in June of 1977 and were blessed with the birth of our children, your parents.

What if I had chosen St. Louis over Kansas City? What if I had walked Samson in a different direction? What prompted that man to call out to me with the offer of a beer? What if I had not accepted? Think of how life changed for me, Christine, your parents, and each of you by my decision to seek out “the hostess” merely to say thank you. What if Christine had not invited me back for another visit? I came to know why she did. Years later she shared that she had found me handsome, fascinating, an adventurous soul, almost exotic.

The events from that day in 1974 were the flutter of a butterfly’s wing that grew into the adventure of our lives. You might ask what this has to do with walking the Camino in 2013? As you will read in these pages, a friend’s innocent suggestion that I see a movie, “The Way”, is another time that the butterfly’s wings fluttered.

In retrospect, my life appears an endless series of seemingly insignificant moments that grew into experiences of consequence. I hope that someday you may reflect on your own lives and have the good fortune to say it was the journey and not the destination that brings you to smile and embrace someone you love.

Love to each of you and those who you bring into the World.
Peace, and Buen Camino. Grandfather

Written at Kansas City, Missouri. February 2, 2022. (2-2-22!)

 

 

On May 23rd, while enjoying wine and tapas in a small Santiago bar, I shared some of my thoughts about the Camino with Irish Peregrina, Una Barrett. I likened the pilgrimage to Peter Pan’s “Never Land”, a place where an adult may return to the spirit of youth and childlike wonder.  “Tir na nÓg”, she replied, “It’s Irish for “The Land of Eternal Youth.’”

On May 31st, with cabin lights dimmed, Christine and I were relaxing aboard our west bound flight. We were crossing the Atlantic. We were heading home.

Una’s words came back to me as I gazed out the window at the clouds below. With the benefit of the plane’s Wi-Fi I was able to find passages from J. M. Barrie’s 1911 novel, “Peter Pan and Wendy” that spoke to my heart. I began to type.   

May 31st. “Tir na nÓg” (Gaelic for “The Land of Eternal Youth”)

“”Second to the Right, and Straight on till Morning.’ That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to Neverland.” (From “Peter Pan and Wendy”)

Scarcely could there be better directions to the Camino. Over the last 6 weeks I have learned that it is not so much a place, although it is a place, as it is a Way. It is not something realized through a book or from a video, it is an experience that unfolds within. The things which were important at the start; selection of equipment, route planning, communications, became laughingly insignificant. Destination yields to Journey. Appreciation for the qualities of those dear to you gains sharper focus. One’s “guard” drops, and the door to new friendships opens wide. Expectations give way to Acceptance.

For some the Camino may remain a vacation, an adventure, or an item checked off of a “bucket list”. For me the Camino was a blossoming rebirth of the happiness, innocence, and affection found in childhood. My Camino also included anxiety, discomfort, pain, and illness. However, without the full range of experiences, good and bad, there could not have been growth or appreciation of the Camino’s “gifts”. These included sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures, which were a sensorial symphony that played every day. Also included were intense spiritual experiences, and friendships which were like a morning Espresso; deep, intense, and rich but fleeting.

At the risk of inadvertent omissions, I acknowledge those friendships at the end of this note; a final “thank you” to the people who gave special dimension to my Camino. We walked the path side-by-side, shared a table, ordered dinner and wine from a Pilgrim’s Menu, enjoyed and endured Albergues, and of course frequently exchanged the sincere declaration, “Buen Camino!”

These were friendships that carried with them the uncertainty of not knowing if a parting would be followed by a separation of a day, a week, or a lifetime. Reunions on the Camino were often unexpected and flowing with simple joy. This was the kind of delight that is more typical of a child’s excitement upon seeing a beloved but long absent grandparent. For an adult, such warmth without reservation was a rare gift.

Is it any wonder that my hesitation may be misunderstood when I am asked, “So, how was the Camino?” What can I possibly say that offers justice to the question, let alone the experience?

I carried my backpack over 800 km on the Camino. Difficult at first, but it soon became second nature. I have wondered what I might carry with me from the Camino into everyday life. During an evening prayer service in Rabanal, a monk urged us to be mindful that Christ walked the Camino disguised as a pilgrim, careful not to reveal his identity. Perhaps a metaphor, but the message worked on me. As I encountered pilgrims, I found myself thinking, “What if she…, or he…?” I became a bit more sincere, a little kinder, less inclined to judge, and more patient. Perhaps that is the best thing for me to carry forth from the Camino, that the Spirit lives within each of us, and that I must act accordingly.

There is more from the Camino that deserves to be preserved in my life: The childlike wonder that we are born with was stirred anew. It should not again be allowed to dim. Each day should be a search for a new joy, and when found it should be shared with others. There is within each of us the capacity to do our best, and in that to do good by others. Happiness has its source in these things, and when found gives the soul wings.

From “Peter Pan and Wendy”:

 (Wendy’s daughter Jane speaking to Wendy) “What do you see now?”

(Wendy) “I don’t think that I see anything tonight.”

“Yes you do, you see when you were a little girl.”

“That is a long time ago, sweetheart.. Ah me, how time flies!”

“Does it fly, the way you flew when you were a little girl?”

“… Do you know, Jane, I sometimes wonder whether I ever really did fly.”

“… Why can’t you fly now, mother?”

“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”

May I never forget… “The Way”.
Love to all of you. Have Fun, Do Good, and Be Safe. Buen Camino!
Peter Schloss.

Dedication: To you who I name, and to those who I forget to name, the Camino wove you into the fabric of my life. Do not underestimate your contribution or my gratitude: Kris, Maggie, Bernard, Roberto, John, Lene, Jacobien, Henk, Christine, Gabi, Sabine, Gerri, Paul, Martin, Heika, Ed, Sam, Brent, Michael, Tony, Geraldine, Jenni, Jack, David, Carole, Ramona, Kalina, Regina, Alan, Deb, Dick, Bonnie, John, Patricia, Philip, Alex, Vickie, Kate, Patrick, Karin, Sven, Claudia, Jay, Mark, Chance, Olivia, Stephanie, Marcia, Tess, Lisa, Rose, Mike, Angie, Marianne, Gurtz, Javier, Jessica, Marign, Yosmar, Una, Eric, Andre, Raphael, Begonia, Neus, a Monk, a barber in Vega de Valcarce, a Pilgrim from the 11th Century, and of course my very good wife, Christine.

Some of you I have named will read this, but for others this dedication will be a message in a bottle. If you can pass it on to another who might not otherwise receive it, then the bottle will have reached that shore.

Finally, a special thanks to Albert Hickson. In the earliest days of publishing these posts to my website, Albert began sending me near daily comments, suggestions, and corrections. His contributions were voluntary and unsolicited. Albert is 73, retired, and he has walked the Camino more than once. He and his wife of 43 years, Viv, live near London, England. We had never previously known of or communicated with each other.

Pete

 

May 28-31, 2013. Barcelona.

When did our Camino begin? Was it in 2011 as we exited a movie theater, inspired by the characters in “The Way”? Perhaps the beginning evolved during our discussions over the following year. More concrete: Maybe it was when we began buying our packs, hiking boots, and of course our “sporks”.

When we made airline reservations, was that the start? Or was it at Mass in Kansas City on April 5, 2013 when Father Bill and the congregation of St. Francis Xavier Church bid us farewell and the priest entered the first “sello” in our pilgrim credencials.

Any of these may have been the start of the emotional Camino. I believe that the physical Camino began when we landed in Barcelona, Spain on April 8, 2013.

When did our Camino end? Emotionally, as these hundreds of pages attest, it hasn’t. It could be said that our physical Camino ended with our arrival in Santiago on May 22nd.  However, part of the experience of our Camino was embracing the broader magic of Spain.  That alchemy continued with our return to Barcelona.

May 28th.

 A pre-dawn taxi transported us to Santiago’s international airport. We were checked in and at the gate by 7 a.m..

The two-hour flight made a mockery of the 6 weeks that it took us to transit that distance by foot. Once on the ground we returned to Ana’s hospitality and the comforts of her centrally located Guesthouse. Kris Ashton also secured a room at Ana’s for the day preceding her return to the States.

Our belongings stowed in our rooms, the three of us proceeded the few blocks on foot to the Sagrada Familia. We had learned from our experience in April that reservations to tour the Basilica were prudent and depending upon the day, necessary. It was a Tuesday, yet the park in front of the church was active with tourists, vendors, and entertainers.

A quick walk around the Sagrada Familia disclosed progress in the construction accomplished over the 6 weeks since we first gazed upon its exterior.

The organic stonework of the Nativity Façade on one side of the Basilica and the linear sculptures on Passion Façade still amazed us with their stark contrast.

The first view of the interior was breathtaking.

These images only hint at majesty of the colorful stone columns that transform into an overhead canopy. It is like an otherworldly forest, everything drawing the eye up in wonder.

We had purchased tickets to climb and tour one of the towers. While somewhat physically challenging, Christine also had to suppress her discomfort with heights in order to enjoy the experience.

It was obvious that we were touring an active construction site.

Beneath the Church were the studios of the architects who work with computers and models to execute the transition from inspiration into reality.

There was also homage paid to the genius of Antoni Gaudi. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries Gaudi did not have the benefit of computers to aid him in creating designs that were founded on his favored elements of circles, ovoids, and parabolas. Instead, he tied strings, weighted with small bags of sand, to give vision to his thoughts. Gravity created the non-linear flows which were reflected in a large mirror underneath the “string-cathedral”. It was from this that Gaudi was able to test and draft his concepts.

I could write an entire post (or two) about the Sagrada Familia. In fact, I did during our 2018 visit to Barcelona which was part of our walk on the Portuguese Camino. Rather than recount the narratives and those many images, here are links to those posts and pictures from 2018:

The Sagrada Familia Basilica | Peter M. Schloss, J.D. (mediationkc.com)
The Sagrada Familia. A Supplement. | Peter M. Schloss, J.D. (mediationkc.com)

That evening we joined Brent, his wife Marilynn, and some of their Barcelona friends for dinner. It was a wonderful sharing with a true “Camino brother”. Sadly, Marilynn passed away on New Year’s Eve 2019. May she rest in peace. Before her passing they had returned to the States from the home they made in Barcelona. Brent now lives in “God’s Country”, otherwise known as Idaho.

May 29th.

Christine and I resumed our embrace of Barcelona with a fond reunion.

In the 1990’s we had been volunteer representatives for AFS, the foreign exchange student organization. One of the young adults who we had the honor of knowing was Neus Santacana from Barcelona. Over the years we kept in touch with Neus. She joined us for the day and evening as we toured “her city”.

May 30th.

When we flew back into Barcelona from Santiago we saw mountains near the city that seemed to rise from the surrounding land like shark’s teeth. From the tiny windows of our plane I could also make out buildings that appeared to be built into the cliffs. Upon inquiry we learned that this was the Montserrat (“serrated mountain”) Range, rising over 4,000 feet above sea level.

The buildings were the Santa Maria de Montserrat Benedictine Abbey.

An easily navigated train ride took us 30 miles to the cable car station.

We boarded the 83-year-old conveyance for the dizzying ascent of nearly 4,000 feet to the Monastery.

Founded in the 11th Century, and rebuilt in the 19th and 20th Centuries, the Monastery is world renowned. It is home to over 70 monks, and can now be reached by road, train, or cable car.

There is also a cog railway that took us farther up the mountain to the remains of the ancient Chapel of Sant Joan and ruins of hermitages, some believed to have been inhabited by Sant Joan (John) and Sant Onofre.

The precarious stairs and passages were once the only access to these remote habitations.

Hermits are believed to have lived in these mountains as early as the 6th Century. Chapels were known to have been established by the 9th Century, and more formal monastic communities not long after. Monks were held to extremely strict vows beyond those of poverty, obedience, and chastity. Among those requirements were total detachment from the outside world, complete abstinence from meat, arduous regimens of fasting, self-flagellation, and denial of virtually all worldly comforts.

In addition to the grounds, panoramic views, and history, highlights of a visit included witnessing a performance by the Escolania de Montserrat boys’ liturgical choir and seeing the 12th Century La Moreneta sculpture also known as the Virgin of Montserrat.

The choir is a 700-year-old institution consisting of boys who are educated and boarded at the Monastery. These 50+ boys are between the ages of nine and fourteen and perform each Monday thru Saturday at 1 p.m.. On Sundays and Holidays they perform at noon and again at 6:45 p.m..

By some accounts, the 38-inch Virgin of Montserrat dates to early Christianity. Alleged to have been carved in Jerusalem, legend holds that it was discovered in one of the nearby mountain caves where it had been hidden from marauding Saracens.

More likely it dates to the 12th Century. For hundreds of years the statue has been venerated by commoners, royalty, popes and saints. On March 25, 1522, St. Ignatius Loyola laid down his weapons and armor before the statue, thus beginning a period of asceticism before later founding the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits).

We returned by train to Barcelona for dinner, packing, and a night spent in sleepless contemplation of tomorrow’s departure for home.

May 31st.

Our packs were secured in duffle bags for the flight home.

Rare for us, we were traveling first class. This was largely due to an accumulation of frequent flyer miles. The perks included access to the private lounge area, stocked with alcohol and snacks at no additional charge.

Thankfully, we were isolated from the airport crowd until it neared time to board our plane.

The real advantages of first-class seating came in the form of large comfortable seats that fully reclined into sleeping position, and of course liberal servings of adult beverages.

We resisted casting aside our pilgrim identities. Onboard the plane we each continued to wear our shells, and I my beret.

Heading into the clouds with the last views of Barcelona below us, I was well into my second glass of white. I gazed out the window and reflexively pulled out my tiny iPod-Touch. One finger-stroke at a time I began to type, “Tir na nÓg”, “The Land of Eternal Youth”…
Peace Everyone, and Buen Camino. Pete
Next: Epilogue, The Final Chapter