Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Camino 2016 06/05 - Changing Landscape

So now we are clearly on the Meseta. Wide open plains, small villages, the tune "Oklahoma" rattling inside the noggin. It's a rapid transition that sometimes catches people off guard.

Other transitions happened to me , I realized, without noticing right away. In addition to swinging over to the flattish plains, I'm not shedding and adding to my journey. This applies both to the physical and to the emotional pilgrimage.

Physically, I'm now content with the weight of my backpack. Invariably, almost every pilgrim packs too much and begins leaving items behind. I didn't overpack initially but I did decide to leave things that I had gotten while in Paris and Lourdes. 

I in fact overpacked on something I was quite intentional about: I brought too much Lourdes water. I didn't realize that the soda water bottle that I had purchased in Paris was 2 liters in capacity. I filled it up in Lourdes which meant that I was carrying 4.5 pounds of water that I wasn't even drinking. That's on top of a desired maximum 20 pound back pack!

Now, unless I intended to force feed this healing water into every peregrino I met, it was simply not likely that I could share that much Lourdes water. So, on the day I was desperately thirsty (05/21), I drank some of the water to both reduce my pack weight but also receive the healing and hope for a less painful journey.

And on the night after the traumatic walk over the Pyrenees, I drank more of the water. And when the blisters arrived the next night I drank more. I'm now down to just a pint which, as I've mentioned, I've been sharing.

The symbolism didn't strike me at that point but now that I'm in transition on the walk, it's starting to become apparent. The beginning of any pilgrimage involves ejecting unnecessary items so as to be ready for the next phase, making room in the heart for the newly illuminated. (The last phase is union, integration, divine oneness).

I ejected the very item I wanted to share.

What does that mean to me? Now that I'm moving into my second phase of pilgrimage, things are starting to make sense.

I'm starting to think that even with our best intentions, those best intentions too can weigh us down, be a burden, strangle us. Those healing waters were adding to my ever growing misery. I had to get rid of that water, to save myself for more. A broken pilgrim won't have as many opportunities with an abruptly shortened pilgrimage.

Moreover, I drank those very waters of healing. I drank it so that I too could be healed. We aren't rock stars on the Camino. Every day I met people who struggled. Even those who had fewer issues still had issues. We all have problems and can benefit from recognizing them. Of healing ourselves. The pope tweeted just this morning that even the saints were not superhuman. They just loved God fully.

So as I reflect today, the events of the last weeks - obfuscated by the realities of pain and physical duress - are starting to make sense. 

Emotionally, I'm transitioning as well. I noticed that I've walked half of my 920km. That blew my mind. I feel like I just started. Paradoxically I feel like I've been away for such a long time. I miss my husband Stephen terribly. I'll see him in 5 days in León and we walk the final 322km together. I imagine that I'll be both  at peace with his arrival and also challenged, as he's not accompanied me on pilgrimage before. I can barely wait.

The day started with a gorgeous hike up a steep hill out of Castrojeriz. The climb was comparable to Echo Mountain back home though at half the height. It's also equivalent to the castle walk I did yesterday. Of course, I didn't have a backpack. I get to the top and run into Therese of Saint Louis.  We had some laughs resting and I sallied on.

I walked past three villages before getting to Fromista. I enjoyed time at church, rested, feasted, tended to my feet, marveled at a church built in 1066 here in the middle of nowhere.

And I'm wondering what else might start making more sense as I continue on.

Thank you, thank you for joining me this far on this pilgrimage. As I reflect on this changing landscape, I'm down on the ground humbled by your willingness to walk with me. Forgive me for not thanking you enough, as your prayers have given me strength. And together, we can pray for and help those who need our mindfulness and our willingness to journey. 

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