December 19, 2011
Tonight, I had dinner with a dear friend, Anne Wallace. We have had a long history over the last 30 years, Anne and I. I tell her about my blog, how it is helping be mindful of all that I learned a year ago and to recover the sense of peace, the sense of purpose.
A year ago, on December 19, 2010, after a quick breakfast of bread, tortilla española and tea, and after saying goodbye to Pilar who seems to work 24-hour shifts, we walk out of Roncesvalles. The sign reads: 790 KM to Santiago.
Daunting! Will we make it? The Song of Roland comes to mind. Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew traveled here; up ahead el Paso de Roldan, who died here–one of 20,000 knights fighting the Saracens; all killed and Charlemagne came too late. the stones hold their stories under cover of snow. We walk with steadfast steps onward. Our destination is the village of Viskarret. In mid-morning, we stop at a cafe in Burguete and have a bit of cheese and some bread. I lost the flashlight that attached to my head somewhere in the snow en el Alto de Mezquiriz just past Espinal, the town where we stopped to have lunch. A woman stopped to chat as we were sitting in a park bench right outside her sister’s front door. She chatted about the States. She’s just spent a month in San Francisco, but now she’s here taking care of her nephews so her sister, a nurse, can work. Sisters. I miss mine.
We continue walking and as it gets darker, I realize I have lost my flashlight. Becky has her small hand held flashlight, though. She guides us as we walk into Viskarret in the dark and find the one albergue that is supposed to be open, closed. Disappointment greets us as we realize we will have to take a cab to the next town because there’s simply no other way — we cannot spend the night outdoors. We are stranded on a cold dark night in a tiny village and everything is closed for the winter.
A kind woman helps us by calling Pedro, a cab driver, who will drive us to Pension Uxoa in Zubiri. Pedro calls Nieves, who greets us, and she calls Araceli the owner of the Pension, who stamps our credenciales.
We fix dinner–shitake mushroom soup that Becky prepares; I am grateful for the food she is carrying for us. Nutritious. Simple. We are joined by two pleasant young men: one French the other German. The German, is tall and lanky; he has been walking ahead of us for 3 days now. It was his footsteps so clearly visible in the snow that we were following. No, he didn’t have a dog with him! It was two dogs whom he fed and they followed him for 20 km. He tells the story in broken English, laughing, at how the dogs would not go back but followed him even after he would shoo them away. The French man has walked all the way to the end of the world and back to St. Jean; he is now walking to Pamplona to take a train home to be home for Christmas. He shows us his credencial with stamps all the way to Finisterre and Muxía. He promises to make French onion soup when we meet again in Pamplona after he hears my story of how I craved the soup in St. Jean Pied de Port. The Pension kitchen is small and well stocked with pots and pans. Soon, we shower and prepare for bed. I jot things down on a notebook. I have vowed not to write. I want to experience the present without keeping a journal, without writing. I don’t know if I can do it. I yearn to write it all down. I keep the notebook to keep account of the money I am spending. The Pension cost 17 Euros. But the words spill out and I jot details, the promise of the onion soup, the dream from the night before,
Dreams last night had Justice and Destin, my nephew’s children at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center at an event. I am “working” on various planes. What am I learning? To let go. I checked email and feel guilty I am not home, writing, working on projects that are nor finished. I tell myself: Remember you are NOT writing, but being. You are NOT reading, just walking. Read the yellow arrows. That is all you need to read. I focus and meditate as I walk. The day begins with an affirmation and a dedication. I decide to dedicate each day to someone. Whoever comes to mind will be in my heart as I walk. The morning of the 19th, it was Justice and Destin who came to me in my dreams. I kept reminding myself: I am on a spiritual journey. I worry about the unrented house in Laredo, feel the pull of worries and concerns of home: my mom, my writing, my many projects. I must remember the affirmation: I am a spiritual being. I am the rich radiant substance of the universe. I am a student learning the lessons of El Camino. Trust. Allow things to happen. Be alert. Be present.
MEDITATION FOCUS: I am a spiritual being on a human journey on the Camino. I am a human being on a spiritual journey when I am out there in the world, in my daily life of teaching, committee meetings, writing, reading, working, living.