Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Camino 2017-10-3 When Doves Cry

Only two more walking days! By Thursday afternoon, I should be coming into Santiago de Compostela. This fifth Camino pilgrimage will be completed, and the journey ends; this fifth Camino pilgrimage will be completed, and the real journey continues.

There's no way, as you pack your stuff every morning, that you can truly know what your day will bring. For most of us, it's planting one foot in front of the other, an instinct we've done since toddlers. For others it involves equipment or assistance. I packed up thinking I'm getting really close and in my original plans was going to do this three days in two. 

I'm glad I changed plans because I like how things turned out. Met and chatted with some interesting people at the albergue. Walked more slowly than I am inclined to do. Saw things that might not be seen.

I left Pontevedra with a quick reminder to be alert. A couple of older German guys whistled at me to notice the arrows after I crossed as I was more interested in the nice view of the Ponte de Tirantos bridge than the Camino route. It's hard to hear sometimes when you're in your own head; I remembered to not feel embarrassed but to think of them as angels telling me showing me the way, my Camino from Lourdes had messenger angels and this Camino was no different.

I walked alone for an hour before I ran into Julz from Australia. You may recall her in yesterday's blog as the one with a backpack that needed adjustment. I asked if she was doing better and she was. She's still adjusting the straps but the feel is much better. We began to walk together and, as it turns out, we walked the whole day to Caldas de Reis.

We stopped at a lovely cafe and sat under an arbor of grape vines, sipping orange juice. She cracked up when I brought out potato chips. I said normally I have to refrain from the salt because of my blood pressure but on Camino I need the electrolytes. She thought it was great that we both love potato chips and that no wonder we get along so well.

Throughout the day we enjoyed the views, uncountable chestnuts on the ground, and grapes. Some of the grapes on the vines were so juicy and beyond delicious. At another rest break, we pulled over briefly among the oaks and chestnut trees. I chatted with some older French Camino walkers who pointed out that the chestnuts were a favorite stuffing for their Christmas turkeys.

We got ever closer to Caldas de Rei, with signs showing that we were also getting oh so close to Santiago de Compostela. We almost passed a special park that Jorge told me about and she found out from a tourist office. Ellen, from Bend Oregon, had had dinner with Julz back in Arcadia (between O Porriño and Rebadela) and ran into us. She had just come from the waterfalls so Julz and I turned back and went over a few hundred meters to the falls.

They were lovely cascades, flowing even at this dry time of year. The water was cool not cold. We took off our shoes and I went right into a spa tub like hole in the rocks. The water was heavenly.

She and I enjoyed the cleansing waters. Julz found them healing and laid back into the waters. I immersed myself fully and felt like a new person. Water, by immersion or by sprinkles, can do that if you believe so.

After the hourlong detour, we continued on to the last bit. Her albergue was 45 minutes away while mine was 1/2 hour past hers in town. I mentioned in passing the stone I left behind every time at the Cruz de Fero. Since this Camino didn't pass it, I still brought a stone and will leave it at the Cathedral.

The stone represents the burdens we carry in life, the heartaches and pains, the luggage that weighs down our backs. They're so small, yet we feel their weight getting heavier with each passing step. I leave the stone during the pilgrimage to release the weight, to give myself some relief, to leave the stone at the foot of the cross so that Christ can carry the burden for me.

I explained this and realized Julz was in tears. We wept together even as other pilgrims walked past us. I reached down to the ground and offered her a small stone to carry.

Julz found her albergue and I continued on. I had a pleasant dinner of fried fish and clams in spaghetti that tasted like paella, along the river bank. Ellen walked by and I thanked her for her reminder. I then caught the Rosario and Mass at the church.

Doves are symbols of hope and peace. They bring with the rainbow a promise beyond the storm and flood. We don't expect them to hurt. And like Prince's song When Doves Cry, it jars us when they do. But no creature or person goes through life without tears. That's part of living.

And yet the dove even in tears can be full of hope. Somewhere beyond the rainbow, there's always hope.

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