Life on the Camino is so fluid, so transient. I am meeting such amazing people, experiencing such priceless moments, seeing such magnificent sights that I want to hold on tight and soak up all the goodness! However, i have to remind myself that when I hold on tight, my heart can’t possibly be as open for the next blessing.. And so I am learning more and more the importance of open hands – appreciation and gratitude for what I have, but not clinging on to one memory and closing myself to the next.
When walking across a country, every step counts. If I leave my drinkbottle after a rest and walk on 20 metres, it’s honestly not worth going back to get it. Trust me. I’m not even exaggerating (and I make sure I never leave anything!).
Today I came upon a crossroads.
Iley and I stopped at a beautiful little abbey early this morning and spoke to the owner, who taught us some history and told a few folk stories of the Way. One of his tips was a nun’s church a few kilometres up the road, where they let you ring the bell.
With the fluid nature of the Camino, sometimes we walk together, sometimes we find new friends, and sometimes we wander in solitude. By mid-morning I had made a new friend, and we came upon the crossroad: a detour up a hill to Zabaldika (where the church is), or to follow the river on the more direct path to Pamplona.
I actually started down the river path a few steps, before remembering that this is not a race! The journey itself is magic, and I have to be open to a few extra sacrifices if I want a few extra memories.
So, I turned is back and we went up the hillside.
The church was picturesque. It overlooked fields of gold wheat, rolling hills, and was sureounded by fragrant roses, lush green grass and tall trees. So many places I walk through could be movie sets for ‘paradise’, I swear.
I spoke with the delightful nun, who to my absolute pleasure was just a tad sassy. If I were ever to become a nun (please Lord, I love You but no!), I’d be one like her. She talked a bit about the church and history and made sure we all read the Pilgrim’s Beautitudes – which were printed out in two dozen languages!
Long story short, she wasn’t letting anyone up to ring the bell. Apparently it’s not actually something they like doing, because so many pilgrims still have a tourist mindset of entitlement and just come to tick something off the list, rather than experience the magic of God behind it.
I was a bit disappointed, but had such a sweet time surrounded by thick glory it didn’t matter too much. I went outside, took off my shoes and wiggled my weary toes, laid back in the grass and thanked God for His goodness and provision in taking me on such an adventure.
SIDE NOTE: Shout out to my brilliant boss Nicky Walheim, for also letting me come on said adventure! You’re a legend and I owe you a Friday night call in or two 😘
For some divine reason I am deeply, deeply grateful for, the nun came and found me outside lying in the shade with a smile on my face. She asked me why I really wanted to ring the bell, and I got to speak with her about encountering the presence of the Lord. Then, she spotted my ukulele strapped to my pack, and asked me if I would come and sing!
What an honour!
What a privilege ❤️
I followed her back in, climbed the stairs to the second level of the church and started strumming. I could hear a few voices below and was pretty nervous, so took my time and just started humming along to Amazing Grace.
I don’t know when it happened, but a hush fell over the church and I got to sing to my God in the home where women dedicate their lives to serving Him in Spain.
Becka, you would have been proud of me. It was a holy moment I will forever cherish, and an honour I do not take for granted.
Each day here holds so many blessings and surprises for me to search out and find. My hope is that the search becomes my way of life; I want to come home always looking for the good, always anticipating treasures, always searching for those golden moments that are so easily otherwise missed.