The middle week

By Judi Taylor

The beginning issues of the first week have largely settled and next week’s arrival in Santiago seems still well in the future.

As Derek says we now have a daily ‘retreat’ rhythm of meditating with music and readings we each bring and walking in silence with them or not, or “Ma-ra-na-tha”, while continuing in our laboratory, to try our “experiments” and some of each others’ too.

We have come thru many weathers, the rain and wind one day really elemental as in “blow winds and crack your cheeks”. We were drenched as I hadn’t been since walking home from school as a child, exciting weather! Other days sunshine and morning fog and of course our great day last Friday when we sent our packs in a taxi and walked/flew over the mountain with day packs. An extraordinary day of all weathers on the very dramatic hospitales route, we did not want it to end…such stunning vistas, we ran out of words early.

We are living simply and very content, our daily rhythm now settling in, meditation and breakfast and off by 9.30, walking before enjoying 3–4 pm (pilgrim menu) lunch when we arrive ie the works for 9–10 euro, fruit in the evening an early night in our simple 1–2 star hotel accommodation. It is basta, great quality of enoughness, it is sufficient. The day pretty much the same, in recent days walking 18–30kms depending on where towns are/the elevation we walk thru etc…on some days we have a coffee on the way but often no possibility.

We are all amazed and delighted at what has been possible this past week, for myself not having walked with a pack for a very long time and not knowing at all if carrying 7 or so kgs would be do-able…I did not know if I was a complete imposter on day 1 so it is an enormous relief, some days it seems in the realm of miracle! I see now there was a lot of fear in me walking out of the Hotel Carbayon in Oviedo, would I be able to do this? This middle week seems to be about less fear, and a growing sense of gratitude and of confidence.

We are aware of so many people holding us in love and sending blessings on our journey. I wonder too about the collective energy of so many pilgrims over the years walking these paths, how might that be part of our experience?

Beate commented the other day “it’s going so fast!” Which was reminiscent of a remark at a friend’s funeral “it’s been so quick!” And certainly we are aware of the resonances between the Camino and our lives.

There are intimations of mortality in the cow skeleton picked over by the birds on the side of our path, and reminders in “Benedictus” from John O’Donohue
“Return home, more enriched and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.”

Our preparations for our pilgrimage were very much influenced by Joyce Rupp in her book Walking in a Relaxed Manner. The length of our walking days, our accommodation, our pace of walking, our times of prayer and of art-making/journaling and blog-ing (thank you Laurence for suggesting we do it) we are very grateful that 4 of us could whole heartedly agree on so much detail seeing the experience Joyce and Tom (Pfeiffer) shared. And very aware that after they returned home, within a short time, Tom passed away.

We do not know what the future holds, we know we wish to be present to the gift of days we each receive, as we are finding is possible day by day, to the moments given. Beate has shared with us 5 points of regret from her work with people in the last stages of life covering being myself, working too much, keeping friendships, expressing my feelings and having the courage to let myself be happy. A useful check list in our taking stock which seems to be emerging as part of what this time is about.

We are left to ponder the words of Paul Kittner in Gateway to Silence “the suchness of each moment is the infinite mercy of God”.

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