My Camino Story pt 8

29th October:  Najera – Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Each Day we are born again…

At the beginning of each day,
after we open our eyes
to receive the light of that day,
As we listen to the voices
and sounds
that surround us,

We must resolve to treat each hour

as the rarest of gifts,
and be grateful
for the consciousness
that allows us to experience it,
recalling in thanks
that our awareness is a present
from we know not where,
or how, or why.

(From the Poem “Each Day” by  John McQuiston II)

I wake up… today we have a long slow climb up to 2400 ft, on tired legs and feet.  I have tried to avoid too much talk of blisters and soreness in this story but that is not because they were not there, every day starts with a surgical routine of dressing and bandaging our poor feet…


It is a very grounding experience and especially this morning it reminds me of my earthly nature…

My head is still spinning from the last two days but I don’t have time to dwell; today everyone is up early  making unreasonable demands of the little coffee machine in the Albergue.

It was still dark when we left …to set out towards Granon (17 miles away) and no one takes a day off (except for one American guy who mysteriously seems to leave last and arrive first every day, we speculate that  he may be using taxis to complete his Camino)

After yesterdays intensity, I am grateful for the joking and easy going camaraderie of our multi-national group of pilgrims, I spend less time talking alone with Anna today and more time  catching up with Paul and Matt who share their highlights of the way so far…


The Three Peregrino’s

Matt has found it hard going on his legs, but the pleasure of cooking for the others and the joy this has given to his fellow pilgrims shines through for him as a recent highlight, he is now talking of wanting to carry on to Santiago as well.  Paul, who despite his jokey demeanour can be quite a shy, private person, has loved the sense of belonging and easy sharing within the group, his smile is so broad, but he is clear about the need to return home, as we planned, when we reach Burgos in three days time.  They ask me about my experiences  and I start to tell them.  It is difficult to convey the force of feeling I have experienced over the past few days … a transformation has occurred within me, I am convinced that my purpose has been crystallised into a clear instruction to stay here, to just keep on walking…

intoxicated… captivated… elevated… the words leave my mouth I realise that I need this conversation so much, the sense of  friendship and understanding that greets my attempts to describe the experiences, further grounds me, and  reminds me of my choices…

for the past few days…

 intoxicated… captivated… elevated…

…these joyous feelings had swept me away, and gradually, as we climb the hill, the lightness I felt yesterday is replaced by a more solid sense of reality…

My ankle hurts … old emotional pain…still there just below the surface…

There is no denying the very real physical pain I feel in my ankle, but, as I continue to walk with Matt and Paul I feel my pain eased, through their companionship and the act of engaging in each others stories…

When we rise from sleep let us rise for the joy
of the true Work that we will be about this day,
and considerately cheer one another on.

(From the Poem “Each Day” by  John McQuiston II)

There is a shift in my consciousness; I realise I have work to do, that the question about whether I continue on this Camino still lays unanswered in my heart, it has become too tangled up with Anna’s life and the life that Peter lead, walking the Camino and now, I feel my halo slip, as I realise there is the added tinge of envy,  that if I leave Matt might go on to finish the Camino ( Camino?) before I do.

At Lunchtime our tired, but happy, group reaches the days peak…


… and then we descend and head  towards Garron… but everyone is so tired that we stop in a newly built Albergue in Santo Domingo de Calzada.

That night I attend the first catholic mass of my adult life, I am transfixed by the theatre of the service, in particular the concept of transubstantiation that occurs during the sacrament,  the mass is given in Spanish which adds to my sense of wonderment.  I am caught in the moment as the Priest offers the chalice heavenward, reminded of other ceremonial uses of the cup and the cups symbolic meaning as representing our spiritual and emotional lives… I feel that the priest is talking directly to me asking me to allow god into my heart, the phrase ” the path with no obstacles, is not worth walking”  drifts into my consciousness…

Life will always provide matters for concern.
Each day, however, brings with it reasons for joy.

(From the Poem “Each Day” by  John McQuiston II)

Outside I overhear  two English speaking pilgrims discussing the actual words said by the priest and with a jolt of humorous, self deprecation… “but I thought he was talking to me?”,  I am reminded of the gulf of difference between what I imagine is being said, and what is actually being said…

I realise I have to be careful not to get to swept away by my desire for magic to happen…

Back at the Alburgue as I walk dog-tired upstairs to the bedroom there is a printed motto hanging on the wall…

“Que la alegria profunda del coraron sea la brujula que guie tus pasos”

This time I ask for a translation and one of the pilgrims from outside the church tells me it roughly translates as…

“Let the deep inner joy that you feel be the compass, that shows your direction in life”

I love tone of this instruction and I use the sentiment to this day to check my life’s direction…

Anna tells me that she needs to walk alone tomorrow after today’s big group experience, I tell her I understand  and we both agree to meet up in Belorado tomorrow evening.

As I lay in the dark,  feeling the 9 days and 125 miles of walking in every part of my body.  I realise I have not told her that, today I have felt the halo slip from above me as I felt the ground beneath me.

Wings can only carry you so far on this journey.

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