Camino: A Journey of Extremes

Ancient Convent of Sancti Spiritu of the Order of Saint Francis in Prazo do Convento (Galician for the plaza of the Convent) in Melide, Spain.

We took a rest day today. It was sorely needed. When we arrived yesterday I was in such pain I cared only to arrive. To my shame, it was a relief that my daughter felt the same. We rested. How often does God bring us to the brink before we stop, assess, rest?

El Camino has been a journey of extremes. When we started it was 98 degrees. This morning, it was 45. We have climbed to barren, rocky heights that take one’s breath away-literally as we climb, figuratively at the beauty of this land. We have been sheltered and secluded in the depths of valleys under tunnels of boughs, enclosed by stone walls draped in vibrant flowers.

We have slid down narrow, muddy slopes praying for no rock slide. And have been coated with dust that bursts into clouds when untying laces.

Most of the time we walk, just the two of us. Or alone as we trudge up hills. Sometimes, as in leaving Portomarin, it is so crowded we stop at a wayside for coffee to let them pass. Often we talk. Sometimes we just listen to the exquisite silence that fills the soul with peace.

Most people seem to be on some sort of spiritual journey. Most pause, at least to get a stamp in their Camino passport and to enjoy the historical aspects of the village churches. Others pray, creating a tiny island of peace and solitude amidst the crowd.

I try to find the silence. To listen. To become a stillness amidst the chaos. It is easier to do now that I am older. Now that pain enforces stillness.

Yet, God is good. I have been fortunate. And my daughter has planned well. She is a blessing. She waits patiently when I am slow. Rests when I am tired. Is quiet (mostly) when I am grouchy from lack of sleep.

We both needed this well-timed rest. I had to use the cane during the night just to get to the bathroom. But, I am lucky. Other than the anticipated right leg from toes to hip, I’m holding up.

On day one I strained a ligament in my left ankle that made it excruciating to wear my well-worn hiking boots. After several days of wearing walking shoes and with the aid of special wraps that help me to flex my foot with less strain, I am now able to wear my boots again. Such instant relief!

Today we spent long silences in local churches and a leisurely lunch in cool breezes. Both body and spirit are ready to resume. Tomorrow, we conquer the next long passage.

3 thoughts on “Camino: A Journey of Extremes

  1. Great job Susan, you have inspired me to do this Walk with my son. Keep on fighting, you have RA, RA doesn’t have you!

    Sandra Buchholz
    Founder and CEO
    Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation, Help fight RA


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