Lavacolla is where, in the old tradition, pilgrims wash themselves before continuing on the last distance to Santiago. This is where I reserved a place to stay for the night. Shortly before the village there was an old church. A sign outside said: Stamp and Confessions.
I went in to stamp my pilgrim passport. Confession? There are many ways of washing oneself clean. I saw no priest. I’m left with any readers here as witnesses, which is more relevant to me personally.
I’ve never pushed my physical limits like I did with this journey. My body responded accordingly. With outrage, complaining…not so different than the psyche has when I push my ego boundaries.
A multitude of warnings, some I hadn’t previously documented: shooting foot pain, strain, exhaustion, consistently (alarmingly) bloodshot, watering eyes. Swollen ankles. Troubling but painless red marks moving up to my calves. The latter now gone. I can see my ankles again and my foot has quieted. I had no idea my body could send out so many forms of protest. I paid attention.
Over my adult years, I’ve continually pushed the limits of my mind and spirit, often intensely, choosing to put myself in unknown, often uncomfortable territories, scary places, different cultures. The spiritual realm has been wonder-filled, in hindsight beyond what I could have imagined. That aspect has always been easy for me. The places where the ego needs to stretch and get beyond limitations, small-mindedness, not particularly easy or graceful but in the end…freeing–always.
The first book I wrote was really about sorting out so much of what I’d encountered to that point, to find meaning, sometimes awkwardly. There was a chapter I called “Bootcamp for the Soul.”
Here’s what I’ve discovered: This very physical Camino has been another approach to the same end. Another bootcamp and way to integrate the whole.
Much, as I’ve written, has been mundane and difficult, a challenge. During the first communal meal…all the way back in St Jean…we were asked to say why we were undertaking the Camino. I said, “It’s a threshold.” People waited to see if I’d say more. But that’s all I could say. There was nothing else.
In this process, I found beauty in my surroundings and camaraderie in conversations over dinner or a roadside cafe stopping for coffee. I have been reminded what it is to be fully present.
I walked alone but found myself in community. There were times when I seriously needed physical help. I learned to be comfortable asking for assistance–and angels appeared in my path. I persisted within my physical strength which has brought me to this place.
These awareness are coming fairly swiftly. I just wanted to jot them down. They may be better formed and more conclusive at some later point.
This is my confession.
Better to capture and state now. I’m getting ready for the traditional washing–in this case a shower–and these random awarenesses may otherwise disappear down the drain.