There was rustling in the room. Someone’s headlamp blazed as they sought their belongings. I got up. This weariness settled over me. My energy was low. My feet ached just landing on the cold tile floor. Standing was difficult yet those feet needed to carry me 24km that day that amazingly became 24 miles.
I eased down off my top bunk. Grabbed my shaving kit and went to the bathroom, shaved, washed my face, put on deodorant, my fresh shirt, and then made my way back into the dark quiet dorm room, filled with sleepers yet. I picked up my sleeping bag off my bunk, my backpack, boots, socks, and stuff sack off floor and carried them all through the door into the brightly lit entry area, where, the previous afternoon, the host had labored to teach me to say my age.
The trail followed undulating ups and downs and views filled with such beauty, we would just feel astounded. It was beauty that began to soak into my soul.
I needed this having journaled: “I’m weary Jesus. Weary. I don’t like my job. I don’t love my work. To have these months when I’m no one’s pastor is rich. Simply rich. I want to just learn what it means again, or maybe for the first time, to BE me, to be alive. Walking so far daily seems so big and it is in many ways, yet, finally here I get the space to sit, to write, to be, to feel this breeze and the warm sun.”
My community’s words rang into my heart:
“I’m so excited for you. You have blessed our family and church community more than you know and we send you on your adventure with every ounce of LOVE we can muster; knowing you’re being carried on the wings of Eagles! Each and every day, live in the moment, enriched by every connection..cherish every step, every vista, every doorway you enter. No doubt you will touch lives, as equally as you will be touched! Keep brining your unbounded Joy and cherish the moments of quiet and solitude. We LOVE YOU — Endless blessings! Love, Dave. I’ll pray for you everyday XO.”
Yes. Cherishing the steps, brother. Breathing in the vistas. Resting in the hope.
“Step by step, His hand goes with you. He is such a good God. He places us where we can become more like Him. Debbie.”
“You are a Godsend to our family and our church. You have been incredible in being a mentor to us and to me, especially. You have taught me so much about how to help others. Love and blessings along your Camino. God with you! Scarlet.”
Such a gift to have this kind of support in the middle of my own soul-search. I was grateful for these real relationships with such precious people. I wrote: “Thank you for all the words I carry in this book. How joyful, and loving of you to love ME enough to send these people with me in word, in prayer, in heart, in life.”
Today’s perfect temperatures were around 70F. It was partly cloudy all day which meant the sun was not always blaring down on us
We walked together today, but mostly in silence. On this day I had this deep need for space, for inner space and external space. The journey led us up along a bluff, then down under the freeway through a sleepy village and up onto a small highway along which we walked for around six km.
Then we were along the coastline again, a beach path and dropped down into a large city. Nannette just lay down on the sidewalk promenade so grateful to have arrived somewhere. When we asked, we found out it was Castro-Urdiales our first destination.
We got so happy. High fived. We went into town. I went to find insoles for my boots at the pharmacy while Nannette had a café con leche.
We hiked on along the coastline to Islares because it was an Albergue that sat on this bluff overlooking this incredible view.
I’d seen it in the guidebook before departure and decided that I was definitely staying there.
We arrived, registered in the albergue, and I went to a local pub to write, eat olives, drink a beer and be. I came to an entry my oldest brother had written. He began: “Thank you for being a wonderful brother.” He had me there. Tears came to my eyes. While together at the beach prior to my departure, he and I had shared this amazing walk and talk along the beach at Seaside. He wrote, “Loved our walk and talk today, it was the best ever. I am so glad, happy for you to have found yourself. It’s wonderful.” There was this gift: his writing looks like how our dad’s handwriting had looked, and the way he expresses himself was similar to how dad did as well. Our dad died over thirty years ago. Gratefulness flooded me there in that bar. That was where I had ordered another bowl of olives but had asked in this German-Spanish mixture. I had been hearing enough German, that the two languages were in the same “brain bucket.” The bar tender had laughed and laughed, and gave me the correct Spanish.
As I sat there, in walked Gunda, my friend from Germany, whom I had not seen for a few days. Seeing me, she had exclaimed, “Brian! Helmut just said, ‘I wish to see my Brian and my Markus again!’ And I find you!” We embraced and I walked with her down to where they had a cabin at a campground. Not finding Helmut at their cabin, she showed me their great swimming area. So, asking her permission, I striped to my shorts and jumped in and swam while she watched my shoes and shirt. Then Helmut came there and seeing me broke into this huge smile and embraced me, wet and all. He told me what Gunda had already said. We arranged for them to join us for dinner that evening at the bar near our albergue.
“You are a couple now,” said Claudio, of Nannette and I, when he and Lorenzo arrived, “And we are your sons!” Thus we became the “Camino Family!” That evening found us and Gunda and Helmut at dinner for this rousing, joyful, loud, story-filled evening. I was starving. In all we had walked 24 miles that day, and I was so hungry. You’ll notice my plates of food, a salad and a three-meat entree. Yes, I ate it all!
Sleep came easily that night.