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I'll be among the first to head for St. Jean.


Year of past OR future Camino
My wife and I left Lisbon for Santiago at six in the morning. We’d been planning this Camino for two years. It was September and still warm. An hour later the sun flooded the city streets with gold. We walked for five days in brutal heat and then caught a train to Porto. We stayed nine days to recover and rest. When we set off again the weather had cooled. Porto is like no other city. It has a history to match its unique character, typical of an imperial gem. During our stay we visited the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis. I saw this painting there. [O mártir cristão. by Joaquim Vitorino Ribeiro1879]
Is she asleep? Looking at it closely you see that her eyes are firmly shut and her shirt has a tear in it, next to her right arm. Her skin is pale and there is no colour in her cheeks. She seems to have passed into the next world peacefully, a look of calm on her face, her hands resting on her chest, her fingers bent. It is a very striking work of a life cut short. Why? How? Why did the artist paint this beautiful picture, so sad and evocative? For me, it represents our mortal being and the immortal -saintly- part of who we are. Religion, philosophers, artists and writers have been preoccupied with this equation for centuries. I’m not fixated on it, and this is not about being negative or a half-empty glass or depression or the musings of an idle mind. It’s a contemplation of what it means to be alive: today, in this skin, in this earthly body, in this increasingly alien world racked by a modern plague. I lament the price it has exacted from us. So, how does a painting like this fit into the present reality. I don’t know…. it’s from another time and another world. What I do know is that my reflections from Porto to Santiago, as I read them one more time, continue to sustain me and to unfold new feelings, day by day, week by week. And I do know that when it is all over, I’ll be among the first to head for St Jean.
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Year of past OR future Camino
A thousand thanks Raggy. I have regretted since that visit not noting the name of the artist and the title of the painting. Very negligent of me. That fills a significant gap in my journal. Merci. Thank you. Ευχαριστω!

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