Indie Pilgrim
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Indie Pilgrim

Deserted Gardens and Lonely Roads

Day 17 on the Camino de Santiago: Rest Day in Burgos.

The next day, I woke up in Burgos nursing a relentless cough and pounding headache. Having been at a hotel, I enjoyed the luxury of not being ushered out with the other pilgrims in the early morning, and said goodbye to my friends who continued on toward the next stages. The following day, I would find a bus to skip ahead and rejoin them further on the Camino.

I had heard about a pilgrim’s albergue called “Albergue Peregrinos Emaus,” associated with a Catholic church across the river, away from the main part of the city. Normally, pilgrims aren’t allowed to stay more than one night, and seeing on our passport we had already had a night in Burgos, the host was not initially going to allow me and another pilgrim, David, stay there. She finally conceded for me, knowing I was sick — and later invited me to call David and let him know he could stay, too, because he was so gracious about being turned away.

Albergue Peregrinos Emaus was clean, quiet, and peaceful. The hostel closes early (8pm), with a Mass and pilgrim blessing at 7:30, a communal dinner paid for with donations from the previous day’s pilgrims, and a communal prayer. It was also the first time I stayed somewhere that the only common language was Spanish, rather than English.

This was one of the memorable albergues. It is named after the story in Scripture referred to as the “Road to Emmaus,” when Jesus appears to two followers who are leaving Jerusalem after his crucifixion. He walks with them, unrecognized, revealing the truth of the Messiah as he explains Scripture, and the disciples only recognize Jesus after they invite him to stay with them, and he shares a meal with them, breaking the bread.

The albergue is attached to a perpetual adoration chapel, where the Eucharist (believed by Catholics to be the true and full presence of Jesus Christ), is held in a monstrance to be adored in prayer. In this chapel, written on the altar, is the phrase, “Quedate con nosotros señor,” and rather than thinking of the disciples who ask Jesus (unknown to them) to stay with them, I think of Jesus asking his apostles to stay with him when he prayed in the garden before the crucifixion.

God desires to be with me even more than my strongest desire to be with him.

Though I am fearful of the road ahead, and the pain I know it will bring, the only way to Santiago is to stay awake — and keep on walking. We may be surprised to find what we’re looking for on a lonely road or in a deserted garden.

Reflect

  • How often do you invite God into your life?
  • What is the next best step God is inviting you to take towards Him?

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At Indie Pilgrim, we believe life is a pilgrimage — as we journey through this complex and wonderful world, we discover new paths to the sacred within ourselves. Indie Pilgrim explores sacred encounters in the extraordinary — and ordinary — experiences of life.

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Katy Zweifel

Katy Zweifel

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I am a Catholic, teacher, aquatics coach, radio DJ, world traveler, and sailor. I write about spiritual experiences hidden in everyday encounters.