Saturday, April 30, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela Day 8:

Beyond a doubt, this was our most beautiful day yet on the Camino!
The morning opened with a cold mist permeating everything, but the fog gradually gave way to brilliant sunshine and it felt like spring again! New hope and vitality filled my heart!
We planned to go from Sarria to Mercadoiro today, only 18 kms, very close to Matthias’ recommendation, and
totally manageable compared with how far we’d walked other days. I left my pack in the albergue foyer for the transport service to pick up and, free from its burden, we started walking through the city, up100s of stairs!
One thing became quickly apparent: many more peregrinos were joining us this morning!
They were everywhere: it was like ‘rush hour’ on the Camino! Sarria was 120 kms from Santiago, about a week’s journey by foot, and this being Semana Santa = Holy Week, many Spaniards were starting here to complete a mini-pilgrimage.     
We walked through a mix of farms and forests. Streams overflowed all around us: spilled over the walls and onto our pathway. Sometimes we crossed the waters by centuries-old bridges, stepping-stones or simply waded through. The trees, giant oaks and chestnuts, exuded character and seemed to speak out of the mist. Susan from Paraguay called them ‘talking trees’. I likened them to Tolkien’s ents in The Lord of the Rings and fully expected them to pull up roots and start walking with us.
The mist burned off, the sun shone clearer, and as we walked, I felt how much Erica would have enjoyed this natural beauty and suddenly really missed her company, her presence with us. At times, the Camino’s natural beauty verged on perfection, but this only seemed to make her absence all the more prevalent in my mind. Like how can there be such perfection when she is no longer here?!
Again tears flowed as memories quickened and past and present came alive together.
‘But,’ I heard the wind in the trees say, ‘This is for healing: the leaves of the trees are for healing the nations…
and for you and your family!’  
And that’s how and when Revelation 22:2 became my verse for the day!
As we walked through this morning, I felt Erica walking with us as I’d not known before, somehow still here, among the talking and walking trees of life, together with me on this pilgrimage to heal.
And that’s when the Spaniard, who’d still been sleeping when we left early, biked past; and the 2 German guys too.
In fact, I awakened to the fact a lot of other peregrinos were passing me. Was I slowing down again? The only guy I’d passed was a very white-haired 75-year old grandpa, probably the only guy older than me on the whole Camino!
So… time to move a little faster?!  
No… time to inhale a deeper breath, take it all to heart and enjoy these God-moments of life!
As it turned out, we had more than enough time! We even stopped for lunch and arrived at our next albergue early. My pack arrived safely. We settled into our room – had it all to ourselves! No caliente = hot water for showers, and  when the sun went down, it got cold and our stone albergue room grew even colder, but Michael found a space heater  and warmed ours up. After supper in the dining room, we even scrounged some cardboard and wood, built a much-needed fire and Michael and I played a game of chess, something we hadn’t done in a long time. 
Like I said: it was the most beautiful day!

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