Now we are headed for our last stages of this fun, challenging and unprecedented (for me), as well as breath-taking and uplifting journey.
We are off from Ponferrada towards the last mountain ranges of the Way, within which we will remain all the way to Santiago de Compostela and the Cathedral there which holds the relics of Jesus’ disciple, Saint James. The goal begins to loom.
No matter how you see the world, or what you believe or do not believe, when you walk this far on this Way, the ringing of the bells in every town begins to give you ears and the road gives you eyes and you seem to know that after all these two thousand years and all that water under the bridge of human history–some great/some very messy–that such a presence of a Saint from 2000 years ago (whether it has been invoked by a million open human hearts over centuries and/or if it is actually historical and physical) no longer matters to me for that presence has become real for me and it is really something. Big.
So we continue on the Way–one of at least a million who have walked this Way before (and more than a million who will walk it next). And for each one of us, I feel quite sure, it has always been and will always be, unique and shared with others, and new and fresh and valuable.
We can feel the beginning of the end of the journey. The distance of any one day seems insignificant. Yet it all adds up. It’s in the steadiness of walking day to day that we see great progress of hundreds of miles and watch as destinations come sneak up on us.
As we get ever closer to our geographic goal, I realize that if I learn to step into that ever-present goal each moment that I walk along the Way (no matter how hungry, tired, hurt, or late in the day it is) then it will still be there for me after I get home. It’s all practice for being in the moments of my life, no matter circumstance. People give that many names–meditation works for me.
Out of Villafranca early for the big, long walking, high climbing, muscle-tightening, view-inspiring walk up O’Cebrero…
We enter a whole new kind of place–like nothing we have seen on this long walk before.
How cool is that, that after all this Way, the Camino can keep giving us new turns!
Higher and higher we climb… And the world is green again.
Our path follows this clear trout stream for over half a day.
And we keep going up and up.
Every hour or so we pass through old stone villages, sometimes stopping for a coffee or a coke–gotta keep those muscle cells fueled with fast firing energy.
And now we enter the last region of Spain through which we will pass, in which we will remain all the way to the destination church and then the sea: Galicia.
Galicia–this wet ocean wind-and-moisture-driven place is so much like Ireland. Even the culture here is Gaelic.
And I walk these highlands with my lovely young friend from Ireland…
On the way up, we walked pretty fast (for me) and we shared true stories of the transforming gifts of recent days… and some philosophy.
Here’s a censored version of the take-home lesson from our walk-n’-talk:
“F%#* the internal self-critical judge that does not easily accept ones’ self!”
And before I knew it (though it was almost evening and we got the last two beds up there!) we were at the mountain’s top.
And I was too tired to take any pictures…
And what a sunset that it was. Shoulda been there… 😌
See you in the morning!