Ask what you can do for the Camino.
I seem to be on a bit of a speech theme here, don’t I. Thanks John F!
But it’s occurred to me that we all wonder what the Camino is going to do for us, but have we given any thought as to what we can offer the Camino, or other pilgrims along The Way?
I remember sitting around a dinner table full of pilgrims one night early into my Camino. Day two or three I think. There was a lull in the conversation and I told the collected group that in the following weeks, each of us was going to meet an angel on the Camino. We may not know it at the time, it might take us years to realise, but we would.
My announcement was met with blank stares. I quickly excused myself from the table, went back to the albergue and fluffed up my sleeping bag.
But it’s true. I met angels. And I know of many other pilgrims who did too, although they may not put that label on those that helped them. But each of us is capable of being an angel, without even knowing.
About two weeks into my walk, I’d stopped to take a photograph and this young kid walked up. He kindly asked if I wanted him to take a photo of me. I gave him my camera, which was set to manual controls, and began to talk him through how to focus, how to set the exposure, etc.
Yeah yeah yeah, he said. I know.
Amused and curious, I watched him handle the camera. And he did know. I was impressed. Because only a photographer could have worked out how to use the camera the way I’d set it up.
We then walked together. I asked him how come he knew so much about cameras. He revealed that his camera was set to manual too – and in fact he was shooting film. It wasn’t a digital camera, he was actually shooting 35mm film. I was really impressed. Who shoots film nowadays, particularly a 19 year old kid?
It turned out he was a film school student and his real love was cinematography.
Ah, I said, you might just have met your Camino angel!
I then told him I was a film director, and an Adjunct Professor at the film school of an Australian university. Over the next 10 kms or so we talked, he asked a lot of questions, and I gave him advice. He then kicked on, moving much faster than me, but we crossed paths again several times during the next few weeks. And each time, he would ask for more advice, which I liberally dispensed!
Perhaps I was his Camino angel, I don’t know. But it got me thinking that so many pilgrims walk the Camino thinking they’ll get something from the journey. Perhaps though, without them even realising, their true purpose is to give something back…