Stamp and Confession

 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.

8 thoughts on “Stamp and Confession

  1. I too am on the downside of my cancer journey. Many challenges, some emotional healing to do, and integration may take sometime. Also found many angels along the way. Love you Carla.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carlita, You are so close! I love this post. I’m always interested in thoughts about what the Camino means to pilgrims. Your thoughts are particularly interesting as your Camino reverberates with your spiritual journeys. What physical difficulties you’ve dealt with. Oh my. I didn’t know what to worry about the most–probably those red lines. But maybe the eyes. Hurray for the courage to continue in spite of everything. I wish I were there to give you a hug at the Cathedral. Many blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara, I wish you were there, too. You’ve been a cheerleader in the greatest sense having been there yourself. It’s been more comforting than you know. I’ll feel that hug. Now…on to Santiago.


  3. Carla, For the many years I’ve known you, I have noticed that before another step up to a higher plateau, you have referred to thresholds. I remember the one you talked about after the trip to Peru in 2004, when you mentioned how it felt almost like a transparent membrane, that you felt you would bust through at any moment. This one on the Camino feels especially big for you. I’m so very inspired and have been oddly comforted by your successes, even as they are achieved at great physical exertion. You are taking a journey for us us all somehow. Can’t thank you enough for the postings and photos. Relishing each one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, Julianna…I so appreciate your words on thresholds and membrane, especially over time. I’ve always thought it takes someone–outside myself–to witness, reflect back and remind me of what I’ve forgotten or didn’t see. Thank you for being a sacred witness and friend. And I am so-o-o ready to move through another threshold. I feel like I’ve been hovering there for quite a while now, with the landscape just beyond still forming. A test in patience. If this challenging journey helped move things along…for anyone…then it’s well worth it.


  4. Julianna speaks for me. As I have read your posts I have felt that you were doing this journey for all of us. Thank you for doing it for me. You are a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, you know in those months before I set out I didn’t really know why I’d decided to do it…except it was something I was doing for myself…for a change…instead of so much for others. As I’m writing this note back to you a lot is bubbling up that I’ll save for a post. At any rate, I didn’t set out to inspire. But I’m happy if any of it touches someone to inspire their own.


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