Anyone who’s walked the Camino will know this – after you return home, weeks and months and possible years later, you get flashes of moments during your pilgrimage that, at the time, seemed inconsequential. Yet later, those moments take on new meaning.
That happened to me just now.
I remember walking out of Ciraqui early one morning, before sunrise. It was at a stage in the walk where I was in enormous pain from my knee. I was walking along a very narrow track, studded with rocks. An old Roman track. And each step hurt like hell, because I was treading on these big clumps of rock.
Because it was dark still, I had my headlamp on, and I could only see a short distance in front of me. But it seemed that this track just went on and on… It wasn’t going to end soon.
But then on the edge of the lamp’s throw I thought I saw a track running parallel. A paved track. There was brush in between though, and a big ditch, and I couldn’t quite see it clearly. I certainly couldn’t get to it.
I kept walking on this hard and difficult rock strewn track. That’s where the yellow arrows had pointed me, and they were still there, letting me know I was going the right way.
But still every now and then I got a glimpse of this level paved track on the other side of the brush and the ditch.
I finally found a gap in the brush and I climbed the ditch, and looked ahead of me. The track was paved. It was level, and it seemed to be running parallel to the rocky path.
But there were no yellow arrows.
I was worried that it might veer off and lead in the wrong direction, and then I’d have to back track.
So I went back through the gap in the brush and continued on the hard and difficult way. Each step excruciating because of my knee.
Finally, I thought: This is really stupid. The clear path must be a new path. It must be part of the Camino. So I found a way through the brush. over the ditch, and I began walking on the paved track.
Immediately my knee felt better. And I began to walk with greater ease.
After about a kilometre or so I saw a yellow arrow. It had been a new path, and it was the Camino, and all that time I’d been trudging along the rocky difficult path.
So this morning, it came to me out of the blue, (my PGS!) how like life that was.
We spend all our time struggling through difficulty, hauling ourselves painfully along a particular path because we believe that’s the right way to go – that’s the way we’ve been directed to go. And yet right beside us, within our sight, is a clear level path that we can travel on, without pain and difficulty.
But to get there, we have to believe.
And we have to overcome our fear.
(Sometime after my Camino, it’s still reaching into my soul and teaching me.)