As of today I have walked 351 miles across Spain since April 22. It turned out to be the hottest day yet and the steepest since the Pyrenees now that I am in the mountains entering Galicia, but man it is beautiful. I love walking in the mountains.
The scenery and the food, both for the better, are not the only things changing – the people are. The Camino seems to have one of two effects ,sometimes both, on people physically. You either get stronger and more confident or the trail begins to beat you down. As I walked today I passed many folks with bad and painful limps, usually caused by blisters – in some cases really bad one. I have already spoken with a few folks should due to injury were not able to continue. A fear that I believe passed through all pilgrims minds and prayers. I find it was at its worst in the mornings, when I would wake up and think “can I really do this today?” Within an hour or so it would pass and the next thought would be “I’ve got this” and by the end of the days walk I sometimes found myself thinking “I can go further.” Luckily I have only done it once as that is a great way to end up hurting yourself. Knee, back and blister trouble is caused by the trauma of constantly beating your feel against the earth as you walk so sometimes stopping is just what your body needs for the day, there is always tomorrow. (quick funny: I mistyped trauma and it auto corrected to Trump 🙄).
The other possible result of doing this day in and day out is that you become stronger and more confident. So far I have been blessed to fall into this category. Literally every day I feel better then the day before and hills and distances that slowed me down a couple of weeks ago no longer do. Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts sometimes or my wind can be hard to find.
I have always taken my physical strength for granted but it is the psychological and spiritual strength that one must muster that shocks me at times
Lets be very clear here, I am doing this to myself. In the real world people deal with real hardship and trauma perpetrated on them my others, society and the world simply because of who they are and they still find the real strength to move forward and put one foot in front of the other. These folks truly amaze me.
Tomorrow at sunrise I will (God willing) reach the “Cruz de Ferro” or the “Iron Cross,” traditionally this marks the highest point on the Camino. It actually doesn’t that happens about 10 minute down (or up) the trail. For me this point metaphorically marks the point where it is “down hill from here.” While this is not literally at all the case it works in my little mind.
Two thirds of the way in and I am very grad to be here and understand the real privilege it is to have a family, a parish and a job that allows for this. I can also say that I very much look forward to returning home in two weeks and spending the rest of my sabbatical with my very patient and generous wife.
Here are some pics from the last couple of days – enjoy