The concept of identity filled my mind today. Who are we in our daily lives? Who are we when we are on Camino? Are they the same? Do we act differently? Do we expect others to stay the same or act differently based on what we do?
And is this identity isolated for 800 km (or more or less depending on your pilgrimage) or does it extend beyond your current physical location? Are we the beauty in our boots that walk or in the boots that take root in just one place?
I walked out of Carrión de Los Condes thinking about the lovely mass and blessing at church last night. It mattered not who we were. We pilgrims were given a blessing. While walking I caught up with Jote of Holland. She walked slower but we had delightful stops to rest and chat.
She is an independent marketer and decided to quit her last job. Before starting a new one, she finally decided it's time to walk. We laughed over snoring folks and empty fields. She fed a hungry dog. We will likely not cross paths again given the shorter distances she is doing but we connected. She hoped that my reunion with Stephen would be joyful. She didn't come across like a marketing person but that might be part of her Camino.
I ran into Sylvia again and we walked for an hour. She was picnicking with other Italians and shrieked when she saw me. She wanted to update me on her Camino. She met Annamaria who I told her about and slept on the altar of a monastery with her and another guy when the monastery ran out of room. I swooned at the thought of these two angels meeting each other.
Sylvia told me that she took a rest day in Carrión de Los Condes because she had a break down. She was walking so much that she realized that she wasn't diving deep into Camino as she had hoped. Her flight home was distorting her Camino. So instead of trying to walk the whole Camino, she'll walk what feels right and let the Camino work on her.
I'm so happy that she realized this. We cannot force the Camino to be what we want. The Camino is a metaphor for our journey to God. We cannot force that journey. We must accept the pilgrimage on God's terms as it's written in our hearts.
I found my albergue and separated. I said Ciao Bella and she was happy that I knew two words in Italian that didn't have to do with food. I said, "I will see you on the Camino tomorrow and every day we seek each other."
My left foot has been in great pain the last few days. I've popped that blister so often, it looks like I'm shooting up in a poorly chosen location. I immediately made a mess of my room as I searched for the Advil.
I ran into Mike again. He was sitting by the grape vines of the albergue. Not only has he eaten at El Patron in Altadena but his niece lives right by the Ralphs store I visit. And on Facebook, she seems to have 7 mutual friends with me. Small world!
And at dinner I sat with Dominique and Patric. We met walking into Pamplona and they've walked from central France. It was a joy to dive deeper into our talk during dinner. They decided to do this once they retired and the kids left the nest (see the Empty Nest blog post). We will likely overlap considerably on the Camino for at least a week, so it was fun to learn more about their faith and their inspiration to walk.
And during dinner, Lucy from Brazil waved as she walked to another table.
Which leads to the identity discussion. I connected with one new and the rest were prior Camino walk chats. During my rest, I thought "Have I been honest? Do I share truth with them? Or do I present myself in an inauthentic way?" What am I saying or doing when I say "I am _____"?
I've tried to be authentic. It's easy on Camino to be brutally honest. You may never see these people again and you don't have to "save face" with someone you'll see at church or the country club. I talk about Stephen and my journey of faith. It's all out there.
And you can also create a completely new facade, one where you can portray yourself in a certain fashion. Like Jan Brady trying to create a personae, or someone on vacation at a resort trying to impress others, you can say what you want.
And I know which way feels right for me. Camino can be liberating if we let it. What's more liberating than freeing yourself of your false self?
Our identities aren't pinned to us anyway. They precede us and follow after us. As an example, almost every person I've chatted has met Daniel and have been inspired not just by his challenging Camino, but also his astonishing soul, full of beauty, eyes brilliant with a light of love. We've passed him, and now his identity precedes him. And of course, after he visits a place, his identity remains behind.
I am no angel. I'm no saint. I seek God and want to live out the commandment to love each other as God loves us. I fail every day many times, but rather than feeling defeated, it's a reminder to just keep trying. It's an exercise, a workout, of the soul and heart.
And as my identity ripples through the Camino, with my wake colliding with those of others on their journey, the original wave of energy will mix and blend. I want that energy to be the authentic me, the one that was created in God's image, so that God's energy is what passes through this space, this time.
In that ripple of energy, in that vast wave of love, we can find reconciliation without limits to physical location and time. And true healing, true unity can spread across the shores.
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