The Camino out of Sarria is fraught with peril, especially for the peregrino. It's a danger because this is a popular starting point for the Camino. You see, the minimum number of kilometers needed to get a certificate or conpostela from the cathedral of Santiago is 100 and the nearest larger city on the Camino Frances is Sarria. The number of pilgrims basically doubles at this city.
So all these new pilgrims come in, fresh, clean, no injuries, no blisters, no sunburn, many in your groups, many arriving in luxury cars or buses, no experience yet on what awaits them. What once were reasonably quiet paths suddenly because filled with noise, often times with mobile phone talking, cigarette smoking while walking, music playing out loud walkers. Danger lurks around every corner and someone might suddenly find themselves with a burning risk starting in Sarria.
And it's not the new pilgrims starting here at risk. Those who've been walking for greater distances are risking their Camino.
You see, it's so easy to mess up all those hard learned lessons on the Camino by reacting to all these newcomers. It's easy to resent them, to judge them, to judge their every action, to criticize their methods, to wail about what they're doing to "your Camino".
Yet it's their Camino, not yours, that they are walking. We must walk our own journeys while they walk theirs. We already had to process the difference between cyclists and walkers. It'd be a shame to forget those lessons and start all over again with those coming in at this point.
I fight this much on my Camino. It's tough to take in. I had to do it when I suddenly found hundreds joining me in Saint Jean Pied de Port because I started further away in Lourdes. It's not easy to set aside criticism.
But we must, if we are to allow them their chance for transformation. We don't have a monopoly on life changing journeys. And certainly not everybody has the luxury or privilege to go walking for weeks or months at a time. If they are to find their spiritual time meaningful, we must give them the space and time to do so.
"Do not judge others. Then you will not be judged. You will be judged in the same way you judge others. You will be measured in the same way you measure others. You look at the bit of sawdust in your friend's eye. But you pay no attention to the piece of wood in your own eye. How can you say to your friend, 'Let me take the bit of sawdust out of your eye'? How can you say this while there is a piece of wood in your own eye? You pretender! First take the piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to take the bit of sawdust out of your friend's eye."
We aren't asked to evade judgment outright but to judge carefully and with a full understanding and mercy that recognizes our own humanity and sinfulness. Without judgment, you technically cannot forgive. So we judge but with love and care not to do so with a log in our eye.
We walked from Sarria to Portomarin. We were almost run over by cyclists outside of Morgade cafe. We saw countless cattle, gorgeous foggy farms, and bountiful smiles. We watched people drinking wine and beer for breakfast and a number smoking while walking. We even got to the 100km marker, which to us long walkers was an emotional moment.
As we approached Portomarin, I realized that the route was changed. We were diverted. And good heavens, unlike my prior Camino, the reservoir was totally filled. You see the city was literally relocated up a hill stone by stone when they dammed the valley. Last time, I could see the original bridge and buildings. This time I just saw a boater's paradise.
After a walk around town, we ran into Rob and Joey once again. Then they introduced us to Grant and Etricia from Winnipeg. At mass, we ran into Peggy once last time before she plowed ahead to try to finish by Thursday night. Our meals were filling (though there were fried eggs on my spaghetti ).
We ended the day watching high school girls playing red light green light in the plaza in front of the church.
And hope that we did so with heart as open as the skies and seas. I hopped over many a log today. I hope I didn't miss the one lodged in my eye.
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