I then came down into a tree covered area and met Emma and Karol from Slovakia. They are doing the walk from León and largely for spiritual reasons. Emma sounded like she had to walk as a lone adult, so I was wondering if there were sad relationship issues involved. I didn't ask but their journey was so courageous and beautiful that I prayed them a safe and profound pilgrimage.
If I hadn't mentioned it, Karol is Emma's toddler son.
I chatted for a while with Daniel from British Columbia who said that he was 68. This was his second walk. His first walk ended when his inflamed tendons got the best of him. He had walked the whole Camino Frances but had to stop within 40 km from Santiago. I pray him better luck this trip.
I chatted for a kilometer with two men traveling from upstate New York. They looked like they were in their 70s and were quite well read. They pointed out that this otherwise unremarkable little building has a Tudor coat of arms, suggesting that a monarch likely stayed here once while traveling on the Camino as an established trade route.
Soon I was surrounded by eucalyptus trees and this type of tree. I'll explain what it is later but let's just say that the fruit is simply all over the ground right now.
The rest of the walk didn't include more deep conversations but did have lovely sights. The prolonged me-time on this day gave me opportunities to think of my spiritual direction.
Where do I go from here? Why do I feel so called to work on a more spiritual level? What do Rev Zelda Kennedy and Rev Sally Howard mean when they see the Holy Spirit working on me?
Why is my path taking me to unseen places?
After I got to the albergue, I met a 73yo gentleman from Alabama who saw my USC shorts and mentioned that he was born in the Bay Area. He had a cross and I thought it would be interesting to chat with Jim further, but I really doubted we would have anything in common. Older, white Southerner? Not likely to understand my progressive Christianity I decided.
For now, I cleaned out my wounds and went to the Melides church.
This place had some of the most sorrowful and over the top dramatic Lenten pieces I have ever seen.
I reconnected with Elias, Jakob, and Conrad, and we had fabulous - FABULOUS - dinner of Galician octopus (pulpo) and navajas (razor clams). We couldn't get enough. I'm learning so much about these guys.
Maybe they remind me of my wanderlust laden self at that age. They're out on their own and want to know the world. And the adventures they're doing: the cousins - practically brothers - walking 1900 miles from Austria and Conrad cycling / walking alone from Pamplona.
Last I spoke some more with Jim from Alabama. I pondered what we could talk about in common given our likely different theologies. I asked him to describe his pilgrimage. It turns out he's Presbyterian, an elder, and... and he wants to find a way so that his grandson can marry a husband in his church. You see, Jim's trying to work with his congregation because he's convinced that the Reformation isn't over and that inclusion is the right thing to do. His gay 17yo grandson is as much a child of God as anyone else. During a post General Session meeting his heart was opened by the surprising support he heard from his congregation, even from people he assumed would be against inclusion. In the end, he lost six members, but gained six.
I was silently shocked by our conversation. It showed that I was using stereotypes to prejudge people. Here was a spiritual friend and I had, because of simplistic generalizations, relegated him to an Alabama church person I would not, could not, will not connect with. I chose a wrong path without looking hard for a sign.
In my stunned shame, I realized I still must rid myself of locking people out by prejudging. As Jakob said regarding another situation, if you don't try you can never win. Prejudging is a losing proposition from the first moment.
Much meditation and self awareness was expected for the next day.