Vulnerable pilgrim

You know how much of a get-up-and-go/love-this-Camino positive attitude kind of pilgrim I am (and as so many are). I see that feeling arise and stay steady ever again from the inside out, and even though the pains that left my body on the Meseta are now back again, settled in left knee and right shin, (thank you steep downhills!), day after day the love and strength and enthusiasm never wane.

So again it’s early morning out the pilgrim’s home door, out on the Camino before my camera works…

And the Way reveals fresh new sides.

As the dawn comes once again, a friend I wait for every day–one who always shows up and never let’s me down.

And the road pulls me further on. There really is a subtle pull to the Camino that moves your feet forward into a destiny.

Now I had noticed a biorhythmic pattern early on this pilgrimage. Often, generally about an hour and a half out from my end-of-walking-day resting place, my mind would suddenly turn totally silent and the crunch of pain-filled footsteps on the Camino was the only sensation and it fully filled me up. I would watch the scenery move by, almost like I wasn’t there, and I’d feel–the closest I can call it–vulnerable.

Other than being resource depleted–hungry and cold and tired and hurt–I had no idea why. For those physical things did not feel like the reason, more like the triggers. And then as I approached my destination, about a half an hour out, that feeling would disappear and the mind would return to regular I’d re-fill with lots of joy and energy.

I have not felt that for a long time now. But.

For some reason, quite unbeknownst to my conscious-verbal self, today, for the first time, not just end of day, but for the entire day–I’m feeling vulnerable.

And two weeks-old friends come passing by and one says, “Isn’t this beautiful?” And I say back, “I am saturated with beauty; I don’t know if I can take any more in.” And with that, I surprise my self. But that was real at the time.

Then I come upon a horse behind a metal fence (not this one) and I walk up to meet him and extend the back of my hand across the fence up to his mouth for him to get a sense of me. And we connect. For a movement.

And then he tries to bite my hand. And then he bites down hard on the hard metal fence and then he turns his head and puts his big brown eye right up next to mine and we stay in an extended gaze and I move on.

I have no idea why I did not approach him with humility and an apple–there’s a nearly infinite supply.

Feeling vulnerable…

Today is the first day we have hundreds of new pilgrims joining us from Sarria, for it is the last place from which a pilgrim can begin their walk and still travel far enough to be certified as a pilgrim by the Church.

Some long-distance pilgrims, known as peregrinos, (you know how much better they are 😏) and some hospitaleros (pilgrim inn-keepers) call some of the Sarria-starting pilgrims “Touri-grinos”, and these fresh newcomers have been bouncing along the trail in big fun social groups and passing me in droves all day. I think I am okay with that.

The spell broke early in the afternoon. On one of the way markers, pilgrims held a graffiti debate. One person had written that Jesus did not start his pilgrimage in Sarria! 😗 and one of the rebuttals was that Jesus probably did not walk the Camino!

Well… that was enough to make me laugh and that broke my feelings and I felt myself again. And humans, well, we can get pretty silly, yeah?

And I hooked up with Joe and Steve–two fun and funny guys–and we talked and laughed the walking afternoon and stopped at the store and pitched in and made a great pasta dinner together and had a lot of fun.

Later I realized that a one hour vulnerability window–about 1.5 hours out from the end of a 7 hour walking day–is close to the ratio of a day-long window 4 days out from a 36 day trip. Hmm. Interesting, at least to me.

And four days later, walking in the last half hour into Santiago with a large group of great and spirited and very happy friends, and talking it over with Aoife, I’ll realize what might be the root cause of that very rarely-surfaced vulnerability–I sure am human after all. But that’s just one more great Camino gift. And for another day.

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