Happenstance or Providence
Very few Americans are walking the Camino this year thanks to COVID. So many people are afraid, and there are many regulations and restrictions for travel due to this flu which may have come from a Chinese laboratory. The world needs to know whether there’s truth to that.
Normally, I avoid Americans when walking the Camino. I prefer to walk with Spaniards, Italians and folks from France and speak their language. But Patrick and Danielle are a lovely couple from San Diego and the only Americans that I have met. So, I have enjoyed speaking with them.
They began their Camino in Irun, just over the French border in Spain. They walked the first part of the Camino del Norte, which I walked five years ago. It takes you along stunning coastlines in the Basque region and as well as the provinces of Cantabria and Asturias. They then dipped down and began walking the Camino Primitivo toward Santiago. This is where I met them.
Patrick had just been ordained as a Roman Catholic Deacon. He helps the Navy oversee their building construction. He has just finished a long formation process for ordination and wanted to walk the Camino to celebrate his ordination and take time to reflect on his life and spiritual journey.
Danielle was delighted to accompany him. They are a nice team. The most frequent response that I hear as to why people are walking the Camino is that they feel the need to step back and reflect on their own life. We all need this, especially in significant junctions of our lives.
Patrick wanted to be a carefree pilgrim – to walk with Danielle for as long as they desired and then find an albergue, country inn or hotel to stay the night. Unfortunately, government mandates only allow housing facilities like these to operate at 40% maximum due to COVID.
As a result, places to stay on the Camino are scarce. Fortunately, I’ve worked with On Foot – a wonderful English firm that has planned my entire pilgrimage and booked my accommodations.
After realizing that accommodations were scarce, Patrick decided to book a reservation for each night. He booked every place except for their stop in As Seixas. Fortunately, I had a reservation, since nothing was available. Patrick had tried everything. I offered to call Kim and Sue, who were my hosts, to see if they had room.
Normally, they would have had to say that they had no vacancy, but due to the pandemic I explained to Kim and Sue that Patrick, Danielle and Christophe, a French friend of ours, had been walking together throughout the day. Kim and Sue conferred and offered to take Patrick, Danielle and Christophe, because we were a bubble. A government exception that allowed my friends to stay the night in an terrific “casa rural” or country inn. Had Patrick and Danielle or Christophe made the call on their own, they would have been turned down. The bubble saved us.
Was this happenstance or was it providence? I believe that it was the latter. God provides in mysterious ways. Walking the Camino will assure you of that.
With love and prayers from Spain,