Where do I begin? I’m now 72 very full hours of Camino life behind blogging and those 3 days have been filled with 3 months worth of stupefying sights and insights. I guess I’ll start with where I am in this moment and work my way backwards.
I have returned to a restaurant where I had one of the most memorable meals of my life last night. I am feeling melancholy because I am now sitting here alone after a brief Camino “roadmance.” You see, on my very first day, I met a man, Claus from Denmark. And, we have spent every waking and walking moment together since. Until this one. Claus is walking his Camino by moving on and I am walking mine by staying behind. I knew I needed to stay an extra day here in Pamplona to attempt to commit to paper a few thousand of the tens of thousands of words we have spoken over the last 76.4 kilometers in conversations that have felt Trinitarian, in nature. There were times I didn’t know if it was me, Claus or God talking.
Oh, the irony. My intention for this pilgrimage was to walk it solitarily and meditatively. I imagined miles and miles of one foot in front of the other, slowly but purposely, creating distance between the daily world I know and the one I’ve only glimpsed in numinous glances of truth seen slant. I was looking forward to hours and hours of solitude creating space to more easily feel the presence of God and more readily hear Him speak in the silence.
I knew I would be sharing a “Pilgrim’s Dinner” and bottles of vino with fellow peregrinos in the evening after a long, hot day and a short, cold shower. But, in all the previews of the movie in my mind of my Camino, I was walking alone. Quieting my thoughts. Soaking in the silence. Learning from the solitude. I certainly wasn’t wasting all those precious contemplative hours talking to someone when I could be listening to God.
Well, God and My Camino had other plans. During my first “Pilgrim’s Dinner” at the Orisson albergue, I overhead a conversation that piqued my ears. I did my best to join the discussion but I was too far down the table so I returned to talking to the pilgrims on either side of me. Just as I was eating the last of the crumbs of my lemon “sobao” sponge cake, I felt a hand grasp my forearm. When I looked up, I recognized the smiling eyes as the man who caught my ear earlier. He said, “I would enjoy talking more with you. Would you like to walk with me in the morning?” I felt the briefest of hesitation inside as I wrestled between my plans of walking solitarily and trusting the Camino. Then, I quickly responded, “I would love that.”
I am already at my 500-word limit and I need 5,000 or more just to come close to expressing even our first day together, much less, all three. I’ll do my best by including pictures. I don’t mean to tease you, but I’ll have to save the majority of it for the book. But, I can tell you this much. Claus is a psychotherapist, gifted listener, wise soul, and God sometimes speaks with a Danish accent. :) I was listening for God in the silence and He showed up in the form of a man. Go figure.
One thing this has taught me is not to waste time planning, imagining or orchestrating my days ahead. God’s plans are always better and usually nothing like my own. I hope to spend the rest of my time here in Pamplona writing down what I learned while journeying with this messenger from the One who sees me and longs to talk to me so he sent a man to walk the earth with me. Why was I so surprised? After all, there is precedence for God doing that sort of thing. :)
I will end with one moment from my journeying with Claus. I was sharing a heartache I had experienced and he asked me, “Where is your anger?” I told him that I didn’t have any because I understood the reasons behind the deceptive actions of this other person and could see God’s redemption in the bigger picture. Claus would’t let me get away with that kind of spiritual bypassing. He told me to run up the steep hill we were climbing and not to stop until I could feel the anger in my body. So, I ran and I ran and I huffed and I puffed and with every breath the anger and grief and shame came to the surface until it lodged in my throat and trickled out my eyes.When Claus reached the top, he took a picture of me and said, “I finally get to see Lisa and you’ve never been more beautiful.” From that point on, he helped me recognize when I was hiding behind “strong Lisa” and he made it safe for “real Lisa” to appear in all my weakness and unknowing and mixture of dark and light.
I’m going to miss that man but one thing we witnessed over and over again together was the power we have to write the story we want to live. I may have to write a few days of melancholy to be true to my emotions but between my letting go of old stories, writing new ones and God’s surprises that are always better and more imaginative than mine, I can’t wait to turn the page and read the next chapter of My Camino.