This past Easter Sunday, I was not able to be at the service at Max West, helping with brunch and sharing and enjoying one of my favourite times of the year. Instead, I was in Spain, walking a small part of the Camino to Santiago de Compostela – the way of St James of a field of stars. Just for four days – a taster for hopeful further adventures and an ambition to walk it all. Little by little.
I was with my sister Linda who, like me, had never done this before and who, like me, spoke very little Spanish. Our saving grace was that we were also with a friend Barbara, who was fluent and had walked the Camino before but had not covered this particular section – from Puenta La Reina to Logrono. Four days, 53 miles.
I had been inspired and motivated by several things. My niece completed it all, in five weeks, a few years ago and I was hugely impressed. Several other friends had also tackled it, all at once or in little sections over time. Then I saw the film The Way, here in church, a few months ago and I decided to have a go. My newly retired sister was thinking the same.
It was only four days of walking but a wonderful experience. The weather was kind. While you were enjoying uncommonly hot weather here, Spain was warm and sunny and occasionally cloudy – perfect walking weather. The pilgrimage took us through almond groves, vineyards, meadows and fields of corn, olive groves, forests and woods, tracks and paths and tarmac roads, up steep hills, even steeper hills, over bridges and rivers and streams. All of it through history, monuments, fountains, churches, dusty villages with stories to tell of hundreds of years of pilgrimages.
People we met were kind. There is care and respect and a gentle warmth between everyone on the Camino – pilgrims and locals alike. We all had a common purpose and on the path, in bars, at water fountains and in the hostels where we shared breakfast, we exchanged stories of why we were here and our journeys so far.
The delight of being in and surrounded by nature and history, purposefully going somewhere but letting your mind and thoughts wander for long swathes of time, was very special. I loved the chat with pilgrims and with Linda and Barbara at night but mostly walked on my own. It was you and the path. That was it. We talked a lot about what pilgrimage meant to the three of us, but it was too early in the adventure to come up with a simple clear idea. A work in progress. A privilege.
On Easter morning, I was thinking about you all at Max West and phoned the Social Group to wish them all a Happy Easter as they prepared your brunch, from high on a beautiful hill overlooking a valley surrounded by hills and olive trees, drinking a diet coke, 3 hours of walking done, the sun shining. It was lovely to think about you all, the church family, at home and at Church.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter. J S