Meseta Continued…

Thursday dawned cool (high 40s), partly sunny and breezy. With a hug and a wave from John, off I went into the cool overcast morning.

The biggest challenge came almost immediately in the form of a fairly steep hill.

But after that it was fairly smooth going the rest of the day. The rain clouds even continued to cooperate.

The breeze grew stronger as I walked and I soon noticed it was coming from directly behind me. It was as if the Holy Spirit were helping me on my journey with a strong tail wind. Whether it was the wind or my just feeling good, I had my best day walking of my entire pilgrimage, arriving at my destination in Frómista around 3:30, a full hour and a half sooner than expected!

What also made the day particularly pleasant was almost continually crossing paths with Frank and Margaret (Irish couple we met at El Molino…I may have called her Mary when describing our first encounter). For example, I was walking past a nice little park mid-afternoon when I noticed a lady stretched out on a picnic bench meditating (or so I thought). As I pulled my iPhone out to take a picture, she popped up and said, “We’ve been waiting for you. Come over here.” I said I would, but only if she returned to her previous meditative pose.

Her husband Frank is behind the tree.

Apparently word had spread that John was out of action because Margaret then made sure I dried out a windbreaker that was wet with sweat, got my daypack off so I could rest my back, supervised my drinking enough of my electrolyte water, and generally made sure I was all in one piece. Quite a funny performance.

The last couple of miles into town were down a tree lined path which was very peaceful.

John was waiting for me at the hotel, patiently icing his left ankle. Since Frank and Margaret were staying at the same hotel, we had dinner together at a small restaurant featuring home cooked Spanish food, and then, after John took a picture of Frank, Margaret and me, it was off to bed.

Frank and Margaret joined us for the rosary this morning (with John not walking we say it in our bedroom). Then off I went into another very cool morning.

I hadn’t walk 10 minutes when I noticed a big dark set of clouds in front of me.

Since the forecast was for no rain, and since we had been so lucky, I had left my rain gear in the back pack being transported to the next hotel and had only my water resistant windbreaker on.

I was getting nervous until I noticed a rainbow to my left…

…and thought, “Don’t worry, Bill, God will provide!”

With which it started to rain.

So I thought, “it really isn’t raining that hard…and there is a town about a half mile ahead where I could stop if I wanted.” And I just kept walking, knowing things would work out somehow.

When I reached the town, I did find a small open bar, where I went in, bought a cup of coffee, and then went outside in the hope of catching Frank and Margaret (who by this time had decided were personally responsible for my welfare).

Well, somehow I missed them, but I did get exposed to another random act of Spanish kindness. A customer sitting in the bar noticed I was standing outside in the rain, holding my cup of coffee. So out he came, towel in hand, which he promptly used to thoroughly dry a chair, and then motioned for me to sit down. Back into the bar he went, returning witin 30 seconds with an umbrella for the table I was sitting at. So there I sat comfy and dry, enjoying my coffee and then just sitting there, watching the clouds drift by, until I knew the rain was stopping. Back into the bar to shake the hand of my helpful friend, and then off again on the Camino… Knowing God had provided.

In one or more of the Gospels, the author is forced to deal  with the fact there were too many healing miracles to cover in detail.  Paraphrasing, he would say something like, “There were many more such hearings but there is not enough room in this book to cover them all.”

I bring this up because this is the way I feel about all the wonderful pilgrims we have met while on this pilgrimage. Smiles, short exchanges, surprise when a common interest is discovered, sharing of some small part of one’s self.

What I would like you to do is show you several pilgrims who have touched us in special ways.

Maria and Anton are from the Bay Area in San Francisco. We met them as we were walking out of St. Jean Pied de Port our first day of pilgrimage.  They have always seemed very pleased to see and be with us every time we meet each other again along the way.

Remember the French lady accompanied by a young (late teens) black I mentioned early in our pilgrimage.  Her name is Gertrude, his is Louis, he is her grandson, and we see them almost every day. We always exchange warm greetings and, if possible, help each other out (today she told me how she dealt with the same problem John now has).

Meet Claudia from Hamburg, Germany. We met her four days ago when they first joined the pilgrimage. Because she walks almost as slowly as I do, Claudia and I have had several long conversations about our lives (my mostly listening). Each day she gives me a piece of candy to eat when I feel tired. When she discovered John was sidelined, she informed me, “I vill be your guardian angel!”

And then there are Frank and Margaret from Cork, Ireland. Fun to be with, comfortable to pray with, a joy to have met.

And how did we meet? “At El Molino”, you will say. And I just smile. They ended up at El Molino because 5 kilometers into that day’s walk, Frank realized he had lost his wallet. By the time they returned to the hotel, recovered the wallet and finally made it to Hornillos, their room at Sol a Sol Hostal had been sold. They were desperate, so much so, that when someone said, ” There’s a place 12 miles outside of town. I could call and see if they have room,” Frank and Margaret , against their better judgement, said, “I guess we don’t have an option.”

Imagine this scene: 1:00 this afternoon, about three miles from where we are staying tonight, over lunch, Gertrude, Louis, Claudia, Frank and Margaret all discussing who really is my guardian angel.

I am so blessed.

Blessings to you all.

20 mile day tomorrow.