Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What is a Pilgrim?

San Nicolas de puente Fitero to Poblacion de Condes 20km
Poblacion de Condes to Carrion de los Condes 15.5km

Today is quite a weird day, as I was finished walking by 10:30 am this morning.  Part of this is the nature of waking up around 5:30 and being on the trail by 6-6:15, but part of it is that I only walked about 15 km.  My feet needed the break, but my heart wishes that I could have walked further.  Instead, I am currently at Albergue Espiritu Santo run by the Daughters of Charity in Carrion de los Condes.  I was under the impression that they had minimal facilities, but I am sleeping in a REAL bed tonight! (Not that bunk beds aren't real beds, but most of them are really low, so I end up hitting my head at least once, and my hair gets caught in the metal springed ones.)

My bed is the one in the corner.

Also, they have WiFi, a washer and dryer, and a kitchen!  I'm thinking of buying some fixings at the Super mercado and then making dinner, as I am getting a little tired of explaining my allergies.   It also tends to be less expensive, but we shall see...I am really craving meat, so it might be cheaper to go to a restaurant.

My breakfast this morning about 10km into my walk.  I was so excited to add bacon to my tortilla!  I just wish that cups of tea weren't so tiny!

Last night, I stayed in Poblacion de Condes, and met a young Aussie named Hannah.  She and I walked part of the way here together, and she is currently in the middle of a year abroad.  She is quite the character, and a typical extrovert.  She is also aspiring to be a writer, so she is asking everyone why they chose to walk the Camino.  Her favorite phrase seems to be, "bless his/her cotton socks," and she is pining for the group she had been walking with, as she had to slow down/skip a couple of stages when she hurt her knee. Originally, she wanted to walk further, but because she heard that her friends were behind her, she is staying in the same albergue as me.

The sign of the Albergue I stayed at.  There was one group of pilgrims from France who walked 52km one stage because the alburgue in their original destination was full.  I think I probably would have found a tree to sleep under rather than walk that far in a day!

Dessert last night. Yum!

After doing laundry, going around town, and then going to mass this evening, I did something stupid.  I let my guard down, and in the process, someone has stolen my iPod nano.  I shouldn't have thought that staying in an albergue run by nuns would be any different than the normal albergue, but it engendered just enough casual attitude on my part that one of my fellow pilgrims took it when I went to the bathroom about an hour ago (it is currently ~3:30am).  Of course, now that something has been stolen from me, I can't sleep, and I hope the thief can't either (the albergue was locked at 10:30 last night, so I know it is a fellow pilgrim). Honestly, I hope they are plagued with sleeplessness until they return the device, but likely, I will never see it again. I also pray that it gets heavier and heavier the longer they carry it in their pack and that the prayer to the Holy Spirit inscribed on the back makes it impossible for them to sell.  I will need to work on forgiving them (and I will as I walk tomorrow), but right now, I'm not feeling very charitable.

A picture this morning of the sunrise.  Most days I can't get over how beautiful it is and how blessed I am to be here.

But, that brings me back to the question I have been asking myself as I walk along these last 2-3 days.  What makes a pilgrim a pilgrim?  Obviously, it is not sinlessness or being without flaws, for both my behavior and the thief's preclude that.  It isn't even religiosity or being Christian, since I have met several pilgrims who were either non-religious or non-Christian.  And yet, all of us have been called to the Camino for one reason or another.  And, I have come to believe that it is a calling, for wanting to walk several hundred miles is not exactly the most sane action a person can do.  Some are here for financial gain, some are here because they have no where else to go, and yet, we have all been called. 

Everywhere here in town it says only 402-406km until Santiago, but there is no way to know who is right, especially since my mileage tracker and what has been acting as my watch has been stolen!  For someone who likes precision, the fact that every sign and guidebook differs is driving me a little batty!

Most of us are here asking questions...sometimes of ourselves, and sometimes of God, but we are asking questions nonetheless.  And, personally, I feel like I'm asking the wrong question.  As a researcher, I know that the best research happens when you ask the right questions--in fact, the wording of a question on a questionnaire can skew results drastically just because the wording can bias the interviewee.  That being said, I left home with the idea that I am here because I need healing and direction. I'm not saying that either of those are untrue, but the longer I am on the trail, the more I feel like God wants to show me something else--it is like an itch I can't scratch.  I would like to pray for whatever it is, but I honestly don't know what to pray for, and that is maddening as well.  In the process, I think that has become my working definition of what a pilgrim is--it is someone who is seeking the right question.  We may or may not get the answer, but hopefully we can get to the question that will shape our lives.

What are you seeking, and where might it take you?