Last night’s dinner was both enjoyable and informative. There were about twenty five pilgrims seated along two long tables and the conversation was lively.
It dawned on me about half way through the meal that only about 10% of the pilgrims we encounter now started in St. Jean Pied de Port. Most of the people we started with have now ended their pilgrimage, either for planned (Frank and Margaret had always planned to stop in León) or unplanned reasons. The vast majority of people we ate with last night had just started within the last week. I guess that’s what makes it so special when you run into someone who you know started about the same time you did.
I should also add that several people we have spent a good deal of time with and who we know are going to Santiago (like Fr. Paul, Anton and Marie, etc.) are just on different schedules than we are on right now and there is at least a chance we will see them again.
The other thing I was reminded of last night is that everyone has a story. A young woman from Holland sitting across from John felt a call to walk the Camino while at work one day and left within the month. She says she is trying to be open so she doesn’t miss whatever it is she is suppose to receive, encounter or discover during her planned three week walk from Burgos to Santiago. She is traveling by herself.
The lady sitting across from me is also traveling by herself. She is 71 and hails from Vancouver, British Columbia. She is retracing the path she and her husband walked two years ago before he died unexpectedly.
Finally, a couple we met earlier in the day has been walking a little longer than John and I. They started in Amsterdam and have been walking for four months. They like being on the Camino because it is easier to find a place where you can rent a bed (all too often they had to sleep outside while in France). Why are they doing this 1500 mile walk? Because it seemed like a good idea and they love being out of doors. Oh yes, they have their dog traveling with them.
I am sure there are other stories John heard after I left the dinner right after dessert so I could be in bed by 8:30. That probably sounds too early to you but it was heaven for me.
The last thought I had before drifting off to sleep was that one of the many ways walking the Camino is similar to the way I view life is that I have no desire to relive any day of our pilgrimage. I know I will have some wonderful memories, and I believe special memories are eternal. But I have no interest in going back. At the same time, I feel a sense of anticipation over what new adventures might happen tomorrow. It is a good feeling.
As to what actually occurred today, I regret to say you will have to wait. We just finished 11 hours of walking, set a new step record (66,301), I am exhausted, and I haven’t even done my laundry!
We are in good spirits. We know we are loved.
Blessings to all.