In the post, “Signs of New Life,” I wrote about the insights that arose for me as I walked and rested along the Camino from El Burgo Ranero to Reliegos. Because my foot was hurting, I had to go slowly, and that made be more open to the Spirit. Here’s a little more about the end of that day, and my next day of walking to Mansilla de las Mulas.
The new albergue where I’d sent my daypack was at the entrance to Reliegos, and I was relieved to see it come up so quickly because I was limping. It was only about 2:00, early to stop, but it felt like the right thing to do. I had the whole place to myself. The beds were all regular beds, not bunk beds, and there were plugs next to every bed! I asked for some ice at the bar, and went back upstairs to ice and elevate my foot. The bedroom was a nice spare place to relax and stretch out.
Then I did some laundry, hung it out to dry, and walked a little farther into Religos to see if Bar Elvis was open. It was one of those famous Camino spots and it was briefly featured in the movie, “The Way.” Of course, it was closed for siesta time, so I didn’t go in. The graffiti all over the outside was wonderful, though. I really liked this advice:
When I got back to the albergue, a friendly young Peregrina arrived and claimed another bed. Her name was Alice, from South Africa. She was a divinity student at Oxford! Alice had just started her Camino in Sahagun, so this was her first night on the Camino. We became acquainted over dinner. She was so smart and wise beyond her years. We were the only ones in the dining room, and half way through dinner, I noticed that I was bending her ear. I must have been feeling a little isolated not having talked to a native English speaker for several days. Among other things, we talked about our call to ministry and her experience as a female divinity student at Oxford.
When I told her about my sore foot, she said, “why don’t you send your big pack tomorrow, and give yourself a Sabbath?” She said it with such disarming kindness that I found myself saying, “Yes, I’ll do that!”
An Italian guy showed up later that evening and took another bed across the room. We greeted each other and got into our sleeping bags, said “good-night.” Once again I was thankful for the company of pilgrims, and for the trust we had in each other. It was one of the best sleeps of the trip.
The next morning I followed Alice’s advice and left my big backpack in the vestibule for Jacotrans to pick up, and just carried my daypack. We walked together to the end of the village. I was limping, and she was full of energy and ready to conquer the world. I wanted to walk with her but she was way faster than I was. So we said good-bye. She was headed to Leon and the mountains beyond, without a poncho or a coat. I hushed myself and refrained from going into “Mom” mode. She could take care of herself. I was glad to have met her. She was someone truly called to ministry.
Later that morning when I stopped to rest, and picked up my daypack to put it on again, I was shocked by how light it was. I felt like I was floating down the Camino! What was going on? I felt like a great burden had been lifted off my shoulders. It had, of course; the extra 15 lbs. were with Jacotrans. But there was something more to it. Alice giving me permission to leave the heavy pack behind was rather profound. It’s what I needed to hear. It was an absolution.
Like the day before, when everything in the landscape seemed to speak to me of God’s presence, that slow 6 kilometers to Mansilla de las Mulas carrying just the daypack spoke to me of God’s forgiveness, and how light it feels to live without the baggage I usually carry around. I walked slowly and with joy to Mansilla de las Mulas. Thanks be to God, and bless you, dear Alice!