Time to set out. The planning and the
packing are over.The flight, like as not
thanks by Ryan ( let me charge you per
breath on my plane and you can sit
on the wing) is past and you
have got yourself to St Jean de Pied de Port
without major event.
What now? Excitement; Concern that this
is all too much; A feeling that it would be
nice to drop out and become a tourist; all
these feelings come to the surface, and many more.
The beat of the drum moves on consumed by the slow relentless
pace of events. It is almost like a conveyor, which is pulling you
towards that start in the morning.
The sense of moving on will be with you until you arrive at Santiago
or dropout. It is however a feeling that must be
watched. It is easy to miss out on some of the greatest experiences of
you life, because you are unaware of what is really happening to you.
This rhythm that I am beginning to write about must be channelled
to understand all that the Camino has for you. The rhythm is
important~ in part that is what you came to engage with. It is
different from daily life. It is an emptied out day. At home there are
so many things that demand your time. Most of the time there are too
many to deal with in one day. The day becomes overcrowded with the result
that life becomes one of pressure. On pilgrimage there are only a few
things that you have to do. They are :- get up, walk, have breakfast,
walk, stop for coffee, walk, have lunch, walk, arrive at the destination,
rest, wash, both you and your clothes. eat, go to sleep. You might
slip in a few postcards/email and visit a couple of sights along the way.
That's it. Nothing more. Leaving a great deal for time to reflect on life.
It is in this space that you begin to get to grips with
all those problems that you have been pushing aside for years
All those memories that are too painful to confront. They and kindred
things are like a suitcase that you have stuffed for years with parcels.
All with a label that says to be dealt with some other time. The suitcase
is bulging, held shut by leather straps that are about to give way.
All this bursts out. Now is the time to deal with it. The stripped out
day allows for this deep healing of the soul. But it doesn't happen yet.
The rhythm of pilgrimage is more than the daily round. There are distinct
phases to the days and weeks. On that first day as you set off up the
hill to Roncevalles you soon begin to feel the pain. You have been doing
walks for sometime now, but these have not really prepared you for
what is ahead and what you are now doing. This mountain seems
to get steeper and steeper and it keeps on, up and up you go. And oh!
my limbs are not used to this. Willpower keeps you going. How can I
give up after a couple of hours on this walk. What would my wife say
You are on you own. Shyness, and the good old reserve, stop you from
saying much to those who follow you up the hill. Anyway you husband
all your energy to get up up this bit. It must end soon, but it does not.
You will by now be aching all over and be short of breath.
Praise be the top at last and a shortish walk down to
Our Lady of Roncevalles. Rest and blissful sleep.
The next morning, Off again. A few pains coming with me today, but
I soon walk through them to that place where I begin to doubt that
I can do this. Last night on my bed I looked at the guide again and
began to realise that 55o miles is a very long way. I must have been
mad to have thought that I could do it. In the dark I fell asleep
thinking that I would do as much as I can, but I will be on the
bus before I get to Santaigo.
The Sun is out and I have been talking to the people who I had
dinner with last night. They begin to tell me a some of their story
and it makes me feel a little more comfortable. They are having
the same problems on this walk as I am, and they have
painful blister in the same place as mine. We go on together.
It is night now I feel awful. I cannot do this even though I want too.
Too far, too long, too much. All I want to do is sleep. So I do. I awake
a feeling a little refreshed, but I am stiff and ache from top to toe.
I will go to bed after dinner and tomorrow I will think about how
I can get home. I do not care anymore about how I will explain this
to my wife.I do not care about loss of face. I want out.
Sleep comes quickly.
Day three. I still have some pains, but I could walk a little this morning.
Besides that will take me to Pamplona and it will be much easier to
get public transport from there. As I walk things easy somewhat.
Again ,I talk to those who are around me. No much and not very
deeply, but it is encouraging. I start to notice the countryside as I look
beyond the painful place that I am in. It seems that it sorta helps. In
my prayers, which have all been of the nature of 'God get me up this hill/
to the next bar/ to the Albergue' I begin to have a few other ideas
pushed in that are not about my exhaustion~ thanks for this beautiful place,
for these people, be with my wife at home. As this takes place I start
to think that today may not be the end after all. Besides I have
walked near 50 miles; almost 10% of the whole pilgrimage.
I don't know if I can do the whole lot, but I can do more.
I stop at an albergue on the far side of Pamplona, where the
owner/hospitaler is famous for the way she works on and heals feet. The
fame is well deserved as she works wonders on me and my feet.
This is the end of the first phase. It has all been about the body. The
distortion of modern life that has made us more cerebral that physical
is being redressed. The body and mind are painfully reunited. The
body has complained every step of the way and has made the mind l
listen to it. A painful lesson, but a good one. This pilgrimage is about
becoming whole. In Christian terms this very good. The whole
point of the little baby in the stable is that God did not spurn our
humanity but he embraced it. The salvation plan includes the
body. In far eastern religions. The body is a nuisance, something to be
overcome and left behind. Not so with us Christians. The body is part of
my spiritual nature. When Jesus returned to heaven, he took his body
with him. So God has a truly human face. We are discovering this
in a practical way. Soon as the body gets up to speed and the mind
interacts with the flesh in a proper manner, it will open up a whole
new vista. More of that later.
This post is now getting too long so I guess there will have to be a
part 3 to this post. Back soon.