Day 4 – A Pilgrim is always Grateful

Huge stack of large square bales.

SANSOL – Today I notice how the terrain is changing from the colder northern climate, to –I’m guessing–a dry Mediterranean landscape. Olive trees, vineyards take over from the wheat, rye and other field crops but to my eyes, it looks like the Texas Hill Country; home.  I see Live Oaks, even Mistletoe and lots of spring flowers, but sadly no Bluebonnets.

Red Poppies are everywhere

Live Oak…in Spain

It was good to walk alone, a nice contrast from the previous days.  I left later in the morning, and fell in with a completely different group of people.  Very few English speakers, so the solitude wasn’t that much of a choice.

Mistletoe…in Spain

It was good to be in my thoughts and sing…for hours.  I think about the grave we passed yesterday and the (translated) inscription, “I once was what you are, you will be what I am.” I’m reminded of all the people I’ve lost over the years.  Mom, Jim Cloninger, Papa (Charlie), Nonnie (Nelda), people who left a deep and lasting impact on my life then, but all the stuff they held precious  – where is it now?


Maybe I’m thinking about Nelda’s beloved Sun City home that sold this week.  All this stuff that she had collected and moved (and moved), now had to find new homes (and owners).  I have such cherished memories of her, and the wonderful grandmother she was to my children, but feel little for her stuff.   Papa with his love of computers, photography, guns, and after he passed, what became of them?

The Camino markers

I remember helping my dad and sister move out of the house I was raised in and found the research my Mom and done for her Master’s and asked Dad what to do with it, “toss it in the dumpster.”  He was right, or course, but still it didn’t feel right.  So much effort went into producing this research and paperwork, and 50 years later, out it goes.  The Dalai Lama has it right:

People were created to love, things were created to use.  The reason the world is in chaos is that things are being loved, and people are being used.

Maybe I’m thinking about stuff because I need to lighten my load.  18lbs is the max I should be carrying, and I’m pretty sure I’m below that, but it still feels like too much, at least that is what my back keeps telling me.

A priest in the documentary we watched about the Camino said that the “weight people carry represents their fear,” or maybe he said worry, but either way I know I don’t need as much.  The things I was worried about, blisters, knee or hip pain hasn’t happened.  My feet are fine, and my knees are functioning well, so far. But then maybe it’s not my back, but a bored mind because I notice when it is occupied by singing, juggling, taking pictures, or seeing how many steps I can take with my eyes closed (101 steps) the pain goes away.  Would any amount of lightening help?  Like an anorexic who sees herself as fat, will I ever be able to leave the camp of the latter of that Rick Steve’s quote:

There are two types of travelers, those who pack light, and those who wish they had.

I wish I had. I wish I could.

By 3pm the Camino can be a lonely path.

We cross the River Salado, another reminder of home, where the story is told of locals who used to wait by the river sharpening their knives.  When a horse-riding pilgrim let down their mount to drink from the salty (poisonous) river, the locals sprung to action once the horse fell, and flayed it “right then and there.”  Today we cross the bridge and we see no knife sharpening locals The river looks peaceful enough to drink.

Today I notice what I’m calling Pilgrim Fatigue.  “Buen Camino” is heard less and less from townsfolk as I pass through their cities. Stores have signs “Don’t touch the fruit”  (I guess fruit touching is a thing?).  There is the occasional price gouging, and a noticeable feeling of being less welcome.  This is the beginning of the busy Camino season, and I wonder how surly they will be when the Camino hits its peak?  And what will the merchants be like in Santiago?  Maybe they are knife sharpening decedents, who need a good horse flaying to set themselves right.

The Hick

But “a Pilgrim is always grateful,” as Mike & Paul, from Germany chide another pilgrim one night over dinner as they started to complain about the food.  It is a good reminder that we are guests, visitors from a greater mission who are just passing through.



3 thoughts on “Day 4 – A Pilgrim is always Grateful

  1. Really enjoying your reflections, insights and photos! “O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [BCP p. 831] Buen Camino!

  2. It’s been really fun reading through your first week (well, five days I guess) of the Camino. The way you’re writing makes me feel like I’m sitting right next to you and you’re telling me about it.
    Ryosuke and I are praying for you (of course) and that you get exactly what you need out of “your Camino.” I’m checking your blog every evening after work and will (hopefully) remember to keep posting comments, so YOU remember how much we all enjoy hearing about your adventures.

  3. Steve, I’ve just figured out where you are and what you are doing. What an amazing adventure you are on. Has this been a lifelong dream? I’ve watched a movie about the trail and now I get to read the adventures of my brother-in-law on that trail. I love the quotes you used in this blog. Both the Dalai Lama and Rick Steves have it right. Carry on and safe travels to you. Chris

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