The Camino Adventure: Day Seven
Sunday September 29th 2019: Pallas Del Rei to Melides
Aches & Pains
First off I learned a serious life lesson. I just can't party like these Catholics haha. The previous night we got to celebrating and Chuck and I got to drinking some white wine with dinner. Like I mentioned earlier wine is cheaper than water here and it's served with everything. The wine tastes smoother and is far more delicious than the stuff you get in the States. It's just I'm not really a wine drinker. There is also a lot of sugar in it and I'm a diabetic so I especially need to take it easy with wine. But here's the thing... Chuck is a wonderful storyteller and an amazing person. So when you're chatting with Chuck you're a captivate audience. And when Chuck is pouring you another glass as he's expounding it's easy to accidentally drink three, four, five glasses of wine. Which is what happened to me.
I got sick that evening and threw up a bunch and the next morning I woke up dehydrated and with a wicked hangover. Not my finest hour but again these Catholics drink wine all the time. I'm being tongue and cheek about this but I think perhaps the Camino is an excuse to drink for them haha. So back to my hangover before we started the day: I sit down and nothing looks appetizing but I force myself to eat some surprisingly delicious eggs. Though when I started to munch on the amazing Spanish bread the crunching sounds of the crust were like a cement grinder in my head haha.
We also discovered some very sad news: my new friend Cheryl, her brother in-law had just passed away back home in the States. I gave her a hug and we both wept a bit. It breaks my heart that she's going through this pain while she's here. But in a way I'm so glad we sparked a friendship the previous day so I could in a small way be there for her. I prayed for and her family throughout the whole day.
After breakfast and as we were getting started slowly my knee which I injured yesterday began to lock up in the worst pain. I had resolved to power through it but everyone in the group that noticed my limp wouldn't stop fussing over me. I popped an ibuprofen and barreled down the road;in hopes the pain would subside but also so I could be a bit alone and not have everyone bother over me. Then person after person that recognizes my limp, many could barely speak English, offer me treatment after treatment: from meds to ointments to eventually giving me a spare knee brace. Not once did I ask for help, not once did I cry out in pain. People just saw me limping and leaning heavier on my walking sticks so they wouldn't let me refuse help. It was like having a stream of mothers rolling past me on the Camino. An Irish Dad and his daughter were the first outside my group. I had met them the day before and Catherine, the daughter kept saying my name in her adorable accent and it immediately disarmed my machismo. Then couple after couple, group and friends all brought me a bit of attention. Finally another group of Irish ladies offered me some medicine and gave me the spare knee brace I mentioned. I eventually placed my knee brace outside my pant leg just to stop everyone from continuing to offer me more assistance. These Camino Angels have completely restored my faith in people.
Micah, Ron & Patty the leaders of Immaculate Tours forced my hand and said they wouldn't allow me to walk any further for the day. I had only put in five and half miles and it was bumming me out hard. Then they called in the big guns as I was refusing the cab. They had Father Michael talk to me. He convinced me that taking a break for the rest of the day will assure I can walk tomorrow and into Santiago. Since if I hurt myself to bad I won't be able to get my certificate at the compostela, the proof that I walked the Camino.
There's a lot I've been discovering about The Camino that makes it such a unique pilgrimage. According to Chuck there are three major pilgrimages: Ephesus, Rome and Camino. Ephesus is where the Apostle Saint John was buried. Rome is where the Apostle Saint Peter settled and finally the Camino is where the Apostle Saint James bones are laid to rest. You see Jesus Christ had three particular disciples that were closer than all the others; Peter, James & John. James & John we're brothers, in the New Testament they were nicknamed by Jesus as the "Sons of Thunder".
Now the fascinating thing about the Apostle Saint James was that' James' gospel was all about you have to work so that your faith is matched by your life. It's not enough to say you agree that we should love one another or think good thoughts about others. The proof is in the pudding so to speak according to Apostle Saint James. So the Camino is an inner work that transforms your outer life.
At the beginning of the day I for the first time since Katie divorced me placed my wedding ring on. I walked a couple miles and placed a stone I had kept from our Portland apartment on a Camino mile marker. On the stone I had placed the date of my Camino, the twelve years we were married and Katie's name. I wouldn't be surprised if someone saw it and thought it was a grave stone. And truthfully it was. I cried as I placed it down but I felt lighter. After this point I took my ring off and for the first time I didn't miss the weight of the ring on my finger. Though I might change my mind where exactly; I believe I'd like to place my wedding ring at the statue of Saint James in Santiago. The greatest thing The Camino has done for me is help me properly grieve the lost of my wife and best friend. I'll always love her and a part of me will always long for what we had. But the Katie I loved for all those years died. If the Lord wills, I believe, I will find love again but the Katie I thought I knew and loved is gone forever. The Katie I loved would of never abandoned me and or of betrayed me. And that reality soaked in completely today. I've been clinging to a person that no longer exists. While I'm not without my flaws failing to love someone or a lack of devotion are just not apart of my DNA. I'm loyal, faithful and a believer in the goodness of the people I love. This is why The Camino has balanced my inner faith with and outward truth. People can be so good, kind and relentlessly loving. I'll continue to pray for Katie. But I don't want her back anymore. For what we were and what she was to me died. And this is my funeral and new life experience. I miss the relationship norms but I won't sacrifice a familiar comfort for a lack of passionate authenticity. I'm feeling more and more that God is making me a new kind of whole person. So while I'm fighting aches and pains today God is with me, and I have all the reason to be bold and fearless as a lion! Fearless to love myself and others and fearless to live life alone or otherwise.