I just met Mary. She’s another one of my angels, and she doesn’t even know it.
As I write this, it’s just after 11AM, and I’ve been walking with Domenico, sorting out our pride. So much for all the ‘personal/spiritual growth’ we’ve had so far!
We started out from Sarria with hoards of people. So many people. I’m fighting with myself to call them pilgrims, because I feel an indignation rise up in me that they are tourists; not pilgrims.
These people have just jumped on for the last few days – they’re trying to tick off a bucket list dot point, or go for a nice long walk.
We are the ‘real’ pilgrims.
The ones who have walked more than 700km to get here today. The ones who have scratched our bed bug bites, threaded needles through blisters on top of blisters, been under this blazing sun for so long our tans are set in deep and even the colour of our hats are fading (I’ve folded it in half to show you the colour it used to be 27 days ago!).
These newcomers with their shiny shoes and fat purses should move out of the way as we walk down the path. They haven’t earned those shells yet.
Oh hello, pride, you old companion!
I thought I left you back down the road for good.
Dom and I walked past the first six cafes. We got twelve (or so) kilometres down the road before deciding to brave the masses in order to reapply Vicks between my toes and have a vino. I felt anxiety mixed with frustration and a touch of haughtiness rise up as I faced a crowd of people milling around the cafe.
People were squished inside like they were at the front of the main stage of Burning Man, and spilling out on the street sitting on every flat surface – but not the ground. The ground is not for sitting on.
I saw wet wipes being pulled out and cleaning hands, faces, necks.
I heard the frustration of the cashier as English was stubbornly repeated at him; someone hoping if they ordered their specifically made sandwich twelve times he’d magically understand.
There was a line for the toilet, for the first time ever.
And my heart beat fast.
I’m glad I had Dom (and Jesus!) with me, because I can honestly say it was like a mild panic attack.
This has been my oasis, my road, my stretch of earth where every other walker has a similar understanding, mentality, purpose. Now, I am facing crowds of faces who do not understand; who do not want to understand, or even comprehend that there is something to understand.
This is not meshing well with me, and I realised today’s lesson (or this morning’s, at least), is to walk with humility. Oops.
We were in line for the toilet, and I smiled at a shiny blonde woman behind me, and half-heartedly asked if it was her first day.
She told me her name is Mary and it is! She was so excited! She’d just done her first fewkilometres and was so proud of herself, and I couldn’t help but join in her excitement as she began her walk.
My reluctant mind finally came into alignment with the joy and love that is generally in my heart, and I fell in love with this beautiful soul in front of me.
Here I was: judging those that had walked less than I, just because it was done differently.
And there she was, bright and free and joyful and open – asking me about what it has been like, and delighting and marvelling and celebrating in my completing 700km already.
Goodness, wherever did this arrogance spring from?
I am so thankful to have been captured by her twinkling eyes right there in the busy cafe, and have my heart taught a lesson deep down that I hadn’t realised it needed to learn over again.
Down to the last hundred kilometres from Santiago now. I am glad I am still learning; this journey will not be finished just because I have reached Santiago.
As I face more and more crowds, walkers, bike riders, pilgrims and tourists alike, I need to remember to keep an open heart.
Let’s hope this dashing of pride is the last I need for a while. Learning humility is never a fun one, but like lancing a blister, when I get all that poison out I can heal and continue on better than before.
Tried to post the video once more, but apparently the internet still doesn’t want to see it. Here’s my feet from a few weeks back again for effect (they’re actually pretty good now 👌🏽):