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Pilgrimages

It had been a particularly long day on the Camino

I had set off early and had missed breakfast leaving Arzua. It was nearing the end of my days on the trail and I was feeling a little emotional about the whole thing. When I had started, I hadn’t really grasped the whole experience, but now I was entrenched in the simplicity of it all. I loved the people, loved the environment, I just loved it all. Despite the ache that had developed in my pelvis, I had headed out of town, while emotional, happy that I was about to achieve my goal.

Heading into a forest, the hill that was ahead of me, looked like it could have been walked quite easily. After some of the earlier hills, this one looked like a walk in the park. Forgive the pun. I headed into it, and halfway up, my pelvis was feeling like it had the weight of the world suspended on it. My legs ached, my lungs hurt and I just felt defeated. I stood for a long time, just looking down at my boots, looking at them and the dust that I had collected over the km’s I had already covered. I didn’t want to go on. It was just too much for me.

I looked back thinking that that was the way. I looked ahead thinking that the path forward was just too long, and too hard. Either way, I suppose I was right. I remembered a book I had read on your thought process and recalled how what you think you believe. My mind was totally giving up on me!

From behind me, a soft voice spoke. I couldn’t hear the words initially but the closer she came to me I realised that she was speaking in broken English and recognised a Spanish accent. I felt like a fraud being on this path since my Spanish was just so weak. Here I was, feeling sorry for myself, in this lady’s country and she was speaking to me in my home language. Very well too!

All she said was: the hill levels out just past that tree over there. It’s not far, and then you are on flat ground. She smiled at me and walked on past. She was wearing a backpack, so I assumed that she was a regular on the trail. I think I assumed correctly. I waited a while and watched her trudge up the hill. Even if I had tried my best, she looked like a walker who would outpace me on a flat trail. She reached the tree ahead, turned to look at me and waved, and then disappeared over the rise. Smiling, knowing that she was right about her assessment of the hill ahead, I gathered myself and started up the hill. Arriving at the tree, there ahead of me was nothing but flat road.

My Camino angel had disappeared from my sight, perhaps she was a figment of my imagination, perhaps she just walked really fast?  Either way, I was looking at the rest of the trail with a renewed vision, and I was taking another step closer to living life with gratitude and purposefully.

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