In 2012 my husband Charlie and youngest son Luke then age 13, traveled to France, then Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago. We were joined by a close friend and family members (in order of appearance) Jeremy, Allen, Brandon, Yvette, Josh, Cece and Delora. I came across this piece tonight as I was looking through my Facebook page. We met Jen on our 30th anniversary as we celebrated at El Molina, a Casa Rural on the Meseta. We met her again at O’ Cebreiro, at Mass as we turned to exchange a sign of peace. A month after we returned home I wrote her this letter. I do not know if it ever was sent.
Will you go back Jen? Memories of our conversations on the Camino come back to me, like whispers in my ear…sometimes brought by the wind and sometimes in quiet rustlings of the leaves as I relish the shade under a tree on these hot summer days.
Will you go back, Carol? The journey was such a physical challenge for me that I did not allow myself to stretch and reach into my soul. I had hoped the time walking would allow me to clean out those dusty cobwebbed rooms and make room for the fresh and new. But my time walking was just that…walking. It truly was about physical survival, about placing one foot in front of another so would get to a place where I could lay my head and rest. At times even sleep eluded me as I thought about walking, placing one foot in front of another, getting to the next place.
Now I see that is how my life has been up to now. Always watching my feet move forward. Through school, career, family, kids, retirement. I have been slowed and even stopped at times by an incurable disease that wants to take my mobility…yet I keep shuffling my feet. They are antsy, not done walking.
Once I belonged to a woman’s group that explored many forms of prayer. As we were meditating one evening I felt that I could not stand. I looked at my feet to see nails driven into them, binding me to the floor. Jesus came before me, blooded from his own crucifixion and said: “Stand up woman, and walk”. He took the nails from my feet and freed me.
I must go back, Jen. Maybe not to Spain or the Camino. But I must get to the place where I stretch and reach for spiritual survival. Where what matters is not the walking, but filling the clean rooms with beauty and grace and mercy and love and tenderness and joy and thanksgiving.
Where will you go next, Jen…
In this writing that poured out of me, I have found my Camino. I have no idea why I pulled up your name just now and started this writing. May the Peace of Christ, made flesh and blood in the miracle at O Cebreiro, reign in the vacant rooms of your heart…and dwell in the places of love and joy life as brought you. Carol