I tend to keep a lot of thoughts to myself. Most of us do. There are things that we do not share even with our family or our closest friends. Sometimes, we’re just so busy, so pressured to get things done at work and at home that there’s little space in between to share what’s really going on in our lives.
There are two times when I relax completely. The first is when the woman who cuts my hair, Danielle, washes and massages my scalp before giving me a haircut. I relax completely in the chair and my defenses drop. The second is while walking the Camino. As we walk, our mask drops, and the “real us” emerges.
I walked with Bob today. He’s a great listener. We have had some wonderful conversations on “the Way,” which is what “el Camino” means in Spanish. The first Christians were called “people of the Way.” Only later in Antioch of Syria, were they given the name “Christians,” which means ones who were anointed with chrism like Jesus “the cristos” or anointed one.
People walking the Camino often tell more to a complete stranger over a few hours of conversation than they will share with a family members or a close friend over the course of a year. Walking frees the mind to ponder deep thoughts. The ancient Greeks had a school of philosophy called the “peripatetic school.” It claimed that we do our best philosophizing while walking. We see people walking, talking, thinking and sharing everywhere. The peripatetic school is alive and well.
When our day’s walk ended, our pilgrims gathered for lunch. Stephanie, an American from Maine, was seated near us. “Why did you decide to walk the Camino?” I asked. “My husband died in October,” she replied. Thus, began our conversation. So often a catalyst propels people to walk the Camino, seeking healing, silence, solitude and reflection.
We invited Stephanie to join us for lunch. She accepted. This is the Camino. There is always an extra place at the table. A true pilgrim always accepts. God often works through fortuitous events. We are wise to take advantage of them.
After lunch, we entered Santiago de Compostela and checked into the Parador – the world’s oldest hotel. Bishop Carlos took us on a tour of an 18th century building which is one of the properties that we are considering to renovate and establish as an Anglican Pilgrim Centre. We just need to raise lots of funds to make this possible.
We later attended the Pilgrim’s Mass in the great medieval cathedral. Bishop Carlos Lopez, Spencer and I vested in the ancient medieval sacristy and were invited to process in the worship service with the Roman Catholic clergy.
I’ve had similar moments in Santiago. I remember each of them. This is a medieval cathedral that is operating with as many pilgrims and visitors today as it probably has at any time in its 800 years of history. That’s impressive!
We joined the other pilgrims for dinner. The wine flows, and conversation comes easily. Our pilgrim band feels like a family. The Camino has a transforming effect.
With love and prayers from Spain,