Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Painful memories - July 6

The last time I walked into León, I waited for Stephen’s train to arrive. When we met after four weeks away, the longest we had been separated since we moved in together, I greeted him and asked if, after we check in at the hotel, he could take me to urgent care. 
That walk was so painful. My blisters were not only hurting but I felt that they might had gotten infected. A check by a medical professional seemed appropriate. I was walking so slowly. And retracing the steps of that day just reminded mw over and over what pain was like on a Camino. 
Thankfully my pains on this Camino are less severe and more manageable. But the wariness remains. I am more careful with each step. I might have more confidence when not injured, but the memories persist. They don’t go away.
Pain works that way it seems. We humans are built to remember pains so that we can learn to avoid the behaviors that cause them in the future. Sort of like positive punishment (not negative reinforcement) in psychology. 
I wish I didn’t remember these pains. I wish I didn’t remember all the emotional pains in my life either. And, from the stories I hear on Camino, it sounds like others are here because of a lot of emotional or spiritual pain. Unlike other forms of behavior, we might not have caused the psychological pain. So we are stuck remembering it without any easy way to learn from it or to seek closure.
I like to think that our Camino or spiritual journey helps us grasp this problem. By letting go of our pains, we don’t have to live in a fruitless psychological trap of positive punishment. We can remember that even though we cannot completely control our lives, we can turn at least to learn to trust again. The Camino provides, we say, and trust can break the grip of pain and punishment. Trust that the Camino provides.

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