Ottawa Citizen columnist Robert Sibley has a new book out.
It’s called The Way of the Stars, Journeys on the Camino de Santiago.
Sibley is a fine writer but the topics he usually covers do not interest me. When I received the book today, I thought, well, good for him. We don’t know each other but I always feel a kinship with writers. I wish him success.
It’s a slim book so I flipped to the first chapter and read the first few lines. Here they are:
“In Roncesvalles I prayed for the first time since childhood. I wasn’t very good at it. I felt self-conscious and embarrassed. The words and ritual gestures had grown rusty with disuse, and, it must be said, disbelief. i made the effort nevertheless, imitating others as they crossed themselves and genuflected in front of the altar. In part it was a matter of wanting to be polite and not look out of place.”
This opening struck a chord within me. I’m not sure why. It reminds me of a trip I took to Mexico almost 10 years ago. I was at a resort south of Cabo San Lucas. During my stay, I made a trip to La Pas. While touring, I stopped in front of a church that had been built in the mid-1700s. A mass was taking place. I didn’t understand it but I knew exactly where we were just based on the cadence and where the altar boys were standing. It struck me that although the mass has evolved over the years, it has remained the same at its core. And no matter where you are in the world, be it a church or hall, a country where you don’t understand the language, we celebrate our faith in the same way. That thought always leaves me with a peaceful feeling, a safe feeling. (With what’s happening in my newsroom today, perhaps I need to think of a Catholic mass more often).
Anyway, I’m going to take this book home. I want to see if I have anything in common with Robert, the same way I had something in common with the parishioners of an old church in a foreign country.