Day 29 and 30 – Gontán to Vilalba, Baamonde and then Miraz

 After my 3 am bed bug awakening I sat up read bible, prayed – suddenly more effectively, and then prepared to leave. I left at 6. I walked in the pitch dark. The moon was full so it was my light. Beautiful morning. Also a bit frightening in the forest and dark. My tiny flashlight was helpful in a limited way.  I was thankful that I don’t watch many of those horror movies when the really dumb adults go check on the noise in the dark basement, or find themselves wandering in a dark wood and, of course, don’t survive!

The sun came up behind me. It was beautiful.

The walk of about 40 Kms was great.

It took me by paths and small roads. Through deep woods. I stopped in cafe for tea and patata in Villalba.

In Baamonde, I stopped at the local “Dollar Tree” which in Spain is not hidden behind euphemisms but honestly known as the Chinese Cheap Store.  I bought underwear and long pants, knowing I needed to have everything machine washed to kill any bed bug remnants.  I arrived at the albergue at noon and gave all my clothes to be washed left wearing my new Chinese clothes. No shirt for an hour. After I got clothes back, I felt like perhaps I was bed bug safe. I ate some food at 2.

Then for dinner Nannette planned for four of us to have a meal together.  She had two bags of salad and asked that I go the store to get some other ingredients for the salads.  I thought “That won’t be enough salad,” which actually ought to be a signal to me!  Every time I have thought that I know better than another, it never ends well.  But rather then questioning my ‘logic,’ I thought I knew better.  So this other pilgrim, Anna, and I walked to the store and she and I came back with ingredients enough for salad for a multitude! We bought two more and heads of romaine. Two red peppers. Two Avocados. Cheese. Guacamole. Two bags chips and two cans olives!   There were plenty of laughs about the amount of food we returned with.  Never had a table so overflowed for four!  We had plenty of leftovers which we made available for others, and left at the Albergue after I had eaten  some for breakfast.

Inside, however, I felt stupid.  I felt such shame.  I stood outside in the sun leaning against a wall that was older than America, writing about feelings which were as common to people as breathing.  In addition to shame I felt afraid that this journey was nearing its conclusion.  Attached to that was the feeling that not enough had changed within me to warrant the conclusion of this walk.  I had to reconnect with the bed bug message the Lord had given me to not “stay in bed with all those thoughts!”

That night several of us made reservations through this albergue with the next albergue in Miraz.  The folk at this place would deliver our packs for us, so we could hike just with what we needed to carry for the day. It felt like I was becoming a “cheater pilgrim!”  But I was so grateful for the anticipation of a day without my pack.

That night I was able to connect to Paige, who was at church and she took a picture of the band and then surprised me with this picture of the whole congregation.  

That came in as everyone at the albergue was heading for bed.  Seeing this picture with the enthusiastic, smiling faces, was such an encouragement to my heart.  Jesus reminded me with them — my negative thinking is mine alone.  No one agrees with those thoughts.

The next morning after my salad breakfast (!), carrying a small red shoulder bag and wearing a fanny pack courtesy of the Chinese shop, I carried water, my journal and pens, and some food for the day.  It was dark as I left, and I got lost on my way out of  town.  Instead of finding the Way, I found my way back to the albergue I had just left 15 minutes earlier!

So, I left and tried again, and this time found the Way.  It was Dark. Dark inside and out really. I still had not worked through all the feelings of the night before.  The familiar inner narratives spoke to me in the 45F morning weather.  Stupid. Failure.  Lost.  Descriptions of how I felt about myself.  But over against these familiar voices came the gentle, deeper, calmer, richer voice of the Lord speaking to my heart.  The Lord urged me to replace the lies with truth.

On this day, the 29th day of my journey, I felt the start of a blister on my foot.  I stopped twice to lubricate my foot with vaseline. I passed a family harvesting potatoes from their field.  I stopped and sat on this marvelous rock wall, meeting a dog whom I named Jorge and with whom I shared bits of sausage.    “Jorge gets his life. He barks. Meets people. Is really encouraging.  And is engaged in the moment and loves to receive gifts,” I wrote.  I took a lesson from him.

Sitting on the wall, in the sun, laughing with Jorge, and journaling, light soaked into my darkness, laughter into my thinking, hope into my soul.  It is amazing what sun, warmth and breathing can do for the spirit!  Rather than allowing myself to get sidelined by the false expectations of what I was “supposed to be feeling” at this point in time, I chose to just intentionally keep placing one foot in front of the other.  Again it was the classic move to “stay with my feet,” which seemed to have been my theme.

I stayed until the sun hid behind a cloud, and then walked on.  I had to stop twice to remove pebbles from my boot and then it hit me, as if a new thought, that “All of life is a path.”  I have probably said this before, but it struck me that day as new, as new as this random door with flowers, that we all get to “walk daily.  And every choice affects the way we journey.”

I wrote that day:

“I am at rest.  It has been a challenging morning with the blister pain, getting lost, and nearly falling to pieces.  But on this rock wall, with fresh oil on my feet, with a new sense of hope and purpose, a confidence flowed into me.  I know that Jeremiah 29:11 (“I know the plans I have for you…”) is true and that quote on this page is so true also:  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them who love Him” (1 For 2:9).  So, I walk and wait.  As I wrote out questions to God about my path, this life and my future, here’s what I received:

“Child.  you are worried and bothered about so many things, when only one is necessary. Choose Me child.  I am the “One thing” to choose above all else.  All of life will fall into place .”

I guess I was really wanting final word so frequently — but there is none.  The truth is You say “Trust. Wait. Be.”  You say, “Be still and know.”  Help me, Lord to be faithful to your great voice.  Let me make you the only thing that matters in this life.

I feel a little dizzy being in the last 100 km of this journey…

About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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