rainy days

Tonight I’m staying in Lugo, one of the larger cities along the Camino. For the past week I’ve found myself in a group of peregrinos that stops in the same cities and albergues each night, and we’ve had a lot of fun each night going to dinner and unwinding after each day’s walk. I chose this walk for the peace and solitude it offers, but I’m glad to have met these people who offer some conversation and laughter as well. (Some of them just complimented me on my ability to sleep through noise, which has served well these past few weeks). Soon we’ll go out and find a restaurant that offers the “Peregrino Special”, a hearty three course meal offered for only 9-10€ to those walking the Camino.

I have 100 more kilometers or 60 more miles to go until Santiago. Now the most demanding sections of the trail are behind me, and hopefully the bad weather is too. For three days this week, it rained constantly. During that time, I struggled through 50 miserable miles. Every day I was soaked to the skin within an hour, and rest breaks had to be quick so that I would not begin shivering. Wet socks meant more slipping and sliding, and much bigger blisters. There were times during these days that you might say I was not the happiest pilgrim on the Camino.

Those rainy days, while not the most enjoyable for walking, were an important part of my walk. They were a lesson in putting my head down and keeping-on, yes, but they were also a lesson in mentality and attitude. On the last of the three, I was trudging through the rain up what seemed to be a never-ending ascent. I stopped for lunch and coffee at a seedy little bar about halfway to my destination, and then walked back out into the rain.

As I spotted the next trail marker, my thoughts drifted up and ahead instead of back down into the puddles at my feet, and I asked God for some clarity about the future. What could have been another miserable 9 miles turned out to be some of the best of the trip so far: I started looking ahead and imagining where my calling might lead, and the ways I will learn to love and serve the world. For the next few hours I was consumed in what I will call “holy day dreams” and the miles flew by. Renewed with a sense of vision and purpose, I threw my hood back to enjoy the rain on my face as I strided into A Fonsagrada.

The lesson of the rain
Is the blessing of the sunshine.
The lesson of the climb
Is the joy of the summit.
What I learn in the quiet
Gets me through the chaos.
Reflections on the walk
Direct me on the Way.

PS: An old Spanish man who is a notoriously loud snorer just checked into the albergue, much to our dismay. Vinci, an Italian pilgrim whom I’ve gotten to know, just passed me a pair of ear plugs; the old Spaniard is the kryptonite to my capacity for deep sleep.

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