This post is a rewrite of an August 22 draft and today is October 14. I decided to wait to finish writing it and now I can complete it knowing the truth of the saying, “The Camino Provides,” and that there are miracles in kindness and healing.
Today started out with a light mist. Should I have read anything into the weather conditions? Should I have thought how storms sometimes come out of the blue?
Instead of walking ahead, I periodically caught up with Craig, on a slow pace, snapping pictures, writing a bit, looking and feeling the spirit of nature and humanity, how friendships and relationships take on different meanings on the Camino. I ate lunch in Zuriain, first by myself, then with Sylvia and Maria, two women from Madrid, walking from SJPdP to Pamplona, having walked many times before.
All the day I felt content. We had looked at the map and decided upon the Albergue Parroquial, a recommended stop run by Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart and a place to recharge spiritually. I was beginning to feel the lightness of my pack, my shoulders felt better and I was thinking where I would go when I was on my own.
I walked out of La Parade de Zuriain, our lunch stop. I hung back to tie my shoe yet again and was now walking alone. The Way was almost immediately on a highway and somehow I tripped, fell hard over my feet, or my boots stuck to the pavement or maybe my poles, I’m not sure exactly what happened. I landed on my knees, elbows, and cheeks. My eye glasses flew and the frame was bent out of wearable shape.
If I had been on a trail away from cars, I think I would have sat for a while and then could have recovered enough to continue for the short trip to the albergue. But I was on a main road with traffic. A few motorists slowed and the next thing I knew, a man with a family drove into the parking lot and helped me out of the road.
He spoke enough English and with my rudimentary Spanish, we could understand each other. I told him where I was going. He said the nuns would help me and he drove me the three Km up a hill. I’m not sure I have ever felt so grateful. I thanked him with gratitude and he refused money. A nun, Marisol, ministered to me, medical care, love, kindness, reassuring me they would take care of me. I had my Arnica pellets and salve and rest. I’m writing this from a private bunk room, at Zabaldika Albergue.
Because my injury was recent and the hospitalera was concerned about my walking today, Mary, one of the Nuns of The Order of the Sacred Heart, drove me to Pamplona. I really did want to walk, but felt that I should accept this offer of kindness.
Mary described her order of nuns as radical and progressive, a group of activists who work to make a difference in the world. I listened to her story and would have been happy to drive hundreds of Kms instead of just 10 from Zabaldika to Pamplona for more of her stories and company.
I know in my heart I have been the recipient of kindness and miracle. I was never once asked my religion or spiritual path. My spirit found love in the music and joy of the mass and group gathering and dinner.
The Camino Provides. I am here to learn. The kindness of strangers and friends. Pay it Forward takes on a spiritual meaning. That is what is found time and again on the Camino.
A week later, August 26: my body feels mostly healed and I am walking fine. After the nun gave me a room on second floor I limped down the stairs, but ate with the group and participated in the evening mass and singing. Marisol said she worried about me traveling alone, as I had planned and I should stop the Camino and go home.
At dinner a few days later, I relayed this story to another well-traveled peregrina, who shook her head and said the nun was out of touch with the times. This is an example of differences in expectations for women and men in different cultures. I did appreciate her concern about me, but, not enough to go home.
I’m grateful that Craig stayed with me, as we spent two days in Pamplona, and then moved on together. Not alone. I’ve hiked with my pack again and feel good. I was lucky to have a spare pair of glasses.
A footnote: Now it is October, 2016 and I completed 320+ Km of the Camino, from SJPdP to Logrono and Sarria to Santiago de Competela and by bus and foot to the End of the World at Finisterre and Muxia, the last 150 km by myself or with new pilgrim friends. Since I fell, my body held up surprisingly well.
I’m home now, with a new clarity and spirit and ready for another Camino. I am a very lucky pilgrim. Recently, I joined the newly formed Sacramento Pilgrims on the Camino. At the first slide show meeting, one of the pilgrims had a picture of the same nuns who helped me. This twenty-something pilgrim had fallen on the Pyrenees trail and was not able to hike very far, even after several days. The nuns and staff took care of her and she, too, was eternally grateful.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve read about and met pilgrims who have been injured or had to stop their pilgrimage and hoped to return another time.
I didn’t write about this in my blog at the time, because I was too self-conscious, but really it was an awakening to the kindness and generosity on the Camino, and how life can change in a second. Accidents happen to young and the experienced. And I am lucky.