Songs on the Road – San Martín del Camino to Astorga

Similar story to yesterday, but we were better prepared. Rain most of the day, a little less wind, a little more attentive to how we dressed and prepared (at least for me). So…after 15 miles…a little happier. Things I am grateful for today: my warm gloves, a wonderful café/bar after about seven kilometers, beautiful landscapes, and a place to buy a new poncho at the end of the day. We have now essentially left the meseta and are climbing into the hills of Galicia (though we are not yet officially in that province).

Though I didn’t listen to any music today, I have been doing it at the end of long days as we enter our last hour or so. Some song lyrics have come up that spur my imagination and touch on life here and I thought I would share some of them and what they mean to me.

The first is Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” Don’t be fooled by its seeming silliness. I love this part of the lyric:

A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the Third World
Maybe it’s his first time around
He doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning into infinity
He says, Amen! Alleluia!

“It’s a street in a strange world.” It is a confession of strangeness, of not-being-at-home. But it is also a proclamation of insight, “he sees angels in the architecture.” Literally! In the face of the newness, the wonder, the fullness, what can a person do except proclaim, “Amen! Alleluia!” The only response to wonder is gratitude.

Another song I have enjoyed along the road is Sandra McCracken’s “Abiding City.” Based on a old hymn, as so many of her songs are, I both rejoice in this song and reject it. The idea is that what is now in this world is not what will be, that God is bringing something better. The problem I have is that a full embrace of her idea might mean a rejection of this world. I don’t buy it – God created and will bring this world to fulfillment. But there is something about this song when we are entering a new city, entering our destination for the day:

Spirit heal our neighborhood
Until your kingdom work is done
Teach us what is just and good
As we look for the city that is yet to come

Oh lift up your head
For the day is near
And we have no abiding city here

A city filled with gold and light
God the builder and the architect
When our faith is turned to sight
Oh I cannot imagine it

Oh lift up your head
For the day is near
We have no abiding city here

As I look around, I see goodness and joy. I see gratitude and vulnerability. I experience hope. Christians might say that “God’s reign” is breaking in, already in front of us. That is what I have been feeling as I have met people, heard stories, stayed in albergues, and entered cities and towns. No “abiding” city. But a transformed world.

Finally, the song I asked Jenny Read to sing at my retirement gathering keeps coming up on my playlist. There are lots of words and ideas in this song, so perhaps people don’t get it the first time. It is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s, “Something Tamed, Something Wild,” and it is a kind of theme song for my life these days. Here are a few of the thoughts she shares:

For every time that I’ve been
Foolish when I’d wish that I’d been wise
The power of regret still gets me
Right between the eyes.
And sometimes I want to weep
With nothing but the tears of a little child
What else are there but
The lessons in your heart?
Something tamed
Something wild

So the things that matter to me
Now are different from the past
I care less about arriving than
Just being in the path
Of some light carved out of nothing
The way it feels when the universe has smiled
What else are there but
The beating of your heart?
Something tamed
Something wild

As I walk along, there is plenty of time to think about regrets and lessons. There is a lot of time to think about what matters most and how things I used to cling to have dissipated. And sometimes, most times, there is nothing to think about – as Mary Chapin Carpenter puts it – all we can do it “just be in the path.” Hmm.

If you would like to hear any of these songs, here are the YouTube links:

You Can Call Me Al

Abiding City

Something Tamed, Something Wild

Author: Jim Zazzera

I find myself thinking about the past, wondering about the future, and doing my best to live in the present.

4 thoughts on “Songs on the Road – San Martín del Camino to Astorga”

  1. Thank you for sharing. Awesome pictures and thoughts. Glad you were better prepared for the weather. Buen Camino 💞


  2. Very insightful, and I love that the wonderments and conclusions and confusions are wrapped in music. It is so much easier to bury oneself in a job and all that needs to be done, as opposed to living life by looking at it and wondering what it is all about. Why get up in the morning? What’s the point? And then there is the side of “How could I NOT leap out of bed and embrace life? Look at all that is here—people, beauty in architecture, nature.” If I just be in the path, as you say Jim, maybe I will finally begin to learn what life has to give and why life has been given to me/us.


  3. Love the song lyrics (thanks for sharing the links ) and the pictures. Prayers for warm hands, hearts, and thoughts, and dry days 😉


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