There were several things I didn’t take into account as I planned for the Camino.
One of those things was fixed schedule I had created by having flights one day after arriving in Santiago that I would need to make in order to meet my wife in Ireland. That fixed schedule meant that I couldn’t arrive too late or I would miss my flight but it also meant that I didn’t want to arrive too early or we would be in Santiago with not enough time to walk on to the end of the world but too much to pay for food and accommodations.
So with very little of our journey left, I had planned a very short day for us on October 1. We walked from Gonzar to Palas de Rei. A short day like this would have been very welcome at the front end of our walk but now it almost feels frustrating to stop so soon. Physically, while my feet hurt from growing so many blisters, I have lost weight and the walking is pretty easy, even when an uphill is involved. I’m enjoying the day, the walk, the present moment.
As we walked in the misty morning, cool but not cold, we came across a random café just in time for second breakfast. Approaching the little café I heard the unmistakable voice of the late Leonard Cohen. I became a Cohen fan while we lived in Canada and his music is very meaningful to me. As we walked in, the music stopped and I asked the owner if I had indeed heard that voice. “Si! Leonard Cohen!” he said. Bill and I sat down, ate an apple tart and drank café con leche while Cohen continued. It was perfect. That moment was a perfect Camino moment for me.
We walked by a little mission church and stopped in where we were greeted by an older man who offered us a stamp for our credentials. He sat down at a little wooden table and only as he asked for our passports did I realize he was blind. We put our credentials and some euro on the table and led his hand to where we had space for another stamp before thanking him and continuing on our way.
It wasn’t long until we reached Palas and a little embarrassing to have such a short walk. But then, as we waited for the afternoon check-in I recognized this was actually a gift. Slowing down as we approached Santiago was creating space to breath and take stock of what the Camino was doing to me. It was also giving us space to savor these last few days and be reflective before the gears shifted and everything changed. We enjoyed a pressed jamon y queso bocadillo, the best yet – I was in the right place at the right time enjoying the simplicity and the beauty and receiving the grace of the moment.
Later I wrote, “Ego was a big topic today. I am grateful for the opportunity to mortify my flesh on this journey. So many aspects of self to set aside. In the midst of this though I have discovered how much me is till so hungry for recognition and honor. I suppose I should not be surprised but I was. I need to keep tabs on this.”
Bill’s “cold” is worse and I am concerned about him but one thing I have learned for sure is that Bill will press on, no matter what.
All along the way, I have been doing Lectio Divina with the Lord’s Prayer. Now 30 days in, the exercise only gets richer and more meaningful. Words I’ve contemplated have been “Our” and “kingdom” and “as we forgive.” I have been struck by “our daily bread” as the Camino has come to embody this day after day after day – not too much bread, just enough, always enough, the Camino provides.
I find, here on day 30 that my emotions are living very close to the surface. I get teary in almost every church building we enter, I feel a deep longing for family that wakes me weepy, I laugh easily and am either amused or awed by every little thing. I did not expect this from the Camino. I do not dislike it.
From here, we only have 65 kilometers left. I still can’t imagine that. 700 kilometers feels like just a week ago, it’s ending too quickly even though we are ending very slowly. Another small day tomorrow and then two more to finish. As we get closer to Santiago it feels less and less like an ending and more and more like a new beginning.