1st November 2009
Santo Belorado – Ages
“Here, far from the distractions and speed of the modern world. We find a slower pace and time, perhaps, to contemplate the inner journey.”
John Brierley – Maps to Santiago de Compostela – Map 11
In the morning I am very quiet, thinking about Anna leaving in the dark earlier, as I look at the little stone my brother gave me, my Cargas Y Culpas…
Today we climb, one more time before we descend to Burgos and the end of my and Pauls Camino. Matt has decided to stay and complete the journey to Santiago.
I find his decision difficult to accept if I’m honest (I still feel the tug…) but I am ready to leave now. It has been an incredible journey and I know I need time to allow what has happened to settle within me, these last two days of walking are a mixture of sadness and joy but today, especially, is very low key for me and I spend much of it walking alone, over the final set of hills before Burgos.
I’m running over the last ten days, in my mind, trying to make sense of it all, I listen to music: the titles and snatches of lyrics, make up my journal entries for today…
“And you may find yourself in another part of the world…
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife”
The questions I had all my life, the difficulty I have understanding normal living… how to live normally… it is still there, but now my connection to all the other people who are questioning normality, listening to the call of adventure, looking for other ways to live, fills my heart with joy… my new compass in life.
“I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision
For another five years of life”
…realising that all my mistakes are a part of me, that in some ways they get me here – now, that the path with no obstacles is truly not worth travelling…
“you came on your own, that’s how your leave,
with hope in your heart and air to breathe”
I am alone, we all are but I can be alone now, comfortable with myself… a real change, I do not feel lonely, when I’m on my own anymore.
“You say the hills to steep to climb…
You pick the place and I’ll choose the time
And I’ll climb
The hill in my own way”
I feel my confidence and self belief has been returned to me, climbing through these hills I feel alive.
So, it is fair to say, I am a bit lost in myself, when Jana (the German pilgrim I gave Paulo Coelho’s book to) catches up with me, with a huge smile on her face…
“I have nearly finished your book” she grins triumphantly. Jana is very down to earth, very goal orientated, so although she finds the book a bit too fantastical she has been trying some of the exercises contained in it:so for the past two days she has been trying the “speed exercise” Paulo’s guide in the book suggests that he…
“..walk for twenty minutes at half the speed at which you normally walk. Pay attention to the details, people, and surroundings. The best time to do this is after lunch. Repeat the exercise for seven days.”
Paulo Coelho – The Pilgrimage
…she tells me she was amazed by what she saw when she took the time to see it, she had been very focussed on her goal of reaching Santiago and slowing down has made her see that the journey is at least as important as the arriving… she says she feels more relaxed and happy with her journey, just from this simple practice.
Then she tells me she has that today she tried the cruelty exercise…
“Every time a thought comes to mind that makes you feel bad about yourself – jealousy, self-pity, envy, hatred, and so on – do the following:
Dig the nail of your index finger into the cuticle of the thumb of the same hand until it becomes quite painful. Concentrate on the pain: it is a physical reflection of the suffering you are going through spiritually. Ease the pressure only when the cruel thought has gone.
Repeat this as many times as necessary until the thought has left you, even if this means digging your fingernail into your thumb over and over. Each time it will take longer for the cruel thought to return, and eventually it will disappear altogether, so long as you do not fail to perform the exercise every time it comes to mind.”
Paulo Coelho The Pilgrimage
laughing showing me her raw, reddened thumb… I laugh too and tell her every time I remember to do this exercise, it shocks me how much time I can waste feeling bad about myself and again I feel for my warm little stone, safe in my pocket.
We talk a little as we walk the final mile down to St Juan de Ortega, she offers to take my stone to the cross at Monte Irago, I tell her I will think about it and that I’ll give it to her tomorrow if I decide to take her up on her offer. When we arrive at St Juan we find the Albergue is closed and we have to walk for a further two miles to Ages.
So we walk on, in the dimming light, just before we arrive at the village, we see Angela sitting at a crossroads, beaming from ear to ear, she is holding a bouquet of fluffy Dandelion seed heads in her hand, as we approach she blows on them softly… they lift, picking up on the air currents coming down of the hills…
” …they don’t know where they’re going, they don’t ask where they will land, but when they do they try to grow into flowers as best they can…”
She looks back at us, with light in her eyes and continues…
“…we are trying too hard…trying to do too much, maybe we need to remember we are human beings rather than human doings”
I my exhausted state I totally agree and we all walk on and together meeting up with Paul, Matt and Noel as we arrive at the darkening village.
The Albergues are all full but we are given mattresses to sleep on the floor in the lounge,
It’s so great that we get to spend this night together in a little private room…
Paul gives Reiki to us all, I read aloud from Paulos book and we all talk until one by one we fall asleep, laughing, happy, into a peaceful, healing sleep.
I lay quietly thinking about tomorrow, the last day, and as I slip into sleep, a passage half remembered from the Bible drifts into my consciousness
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
I picture Angela’s Dandelion seeds, ready to leave, blowing in the wind…caught on a dream…