AGUIADA / PORTOMARIN – Galicia is beautiful, so different from the other parts of Spain I’ve walked through. It’s not just the rural landscape, but also the languages that seem to switch from Spanish to Galician effortlessly. And then there is the food.
I now have had three days of good walking. I think Peter was right, I just had to push through, that or get into Galicia. It is nice to be able to walk all day just for the fun of walking. The mornings are cool and foggy, the afternoons hot and dry, and in-between, delightful forests of trails.
“It is better to travel than arrive,” Peter would remind me mid-afternoon, when I was really just wanting to arrive more than anything else. Travel is all good and well, but when you are hurting, arrival is awfully nice too.
Today I came down the big hill, after the supposedly last mountain range and wandered into Simon’s Place.
Simon did the Camino four years ago with his mother, and after several years riding motorcycle around Africa on a journey back to his home of Australia, he returned to be a presence for Pilgrims along the way.
There are moments when I realize the timeline of the life I was created to live had intersected with the life I am actually living. It’s not that often, or maybe it is, but I’m not aware of it. Anyway, wandering into Simon’s Place and plopping down on his couch, became one of those moments.
It was a ridiculously long descent that left my right foot aching, and the rest of me ready to call it a day. Actually, I was thinking about calling a taxi. Simon was saying good-bye to a South African who had walked the Camino 10 times since 2006, and she asked me to take their picture.
The thing I noticed about I Simon was he didn’t lead or even ever ask the same set of questions people had been asking me for 29 days. As I looked around I had my own set of likely often asked questions about him and his presence here, but I thought if he isn’t going to ask the standard set, then neither would I. I think we both appreciated the break.
“Our decisions come from either fear or love,” he said. I’m sure there was some preamble, but that’s the first thing I got in the notebook. “Or sometimes it is fear wrapped in love,” he added explaining that we are either searching for validation or exploring something together. He seemed like he wanted to explore something, and I didn’t need validation at that moment so I was all in.
In the light of what Simon spoke about I thought about my Project, and the process I was exploring to help her break out of the–I know I wrote doom-loop, but I it’s more of a—decaying orbit. My project is caught in the gravitational force of the Institution, and her orbit is failing.
“Intent matters more than actions,” Simon added. I had always heard that actions mattered more than words, but he believes it is our intent behind them. I scribbled:
Actions < Intent
For the next hour I participated in one of the most stimulating philosophical conversations I’ve ever had. I felt like I was on the set of My Dinner with Andre, except I knew my lines (and understood them), and participated fully.
I wondered about the intent behind my actions with my Project, and reviewed the When Helping Hurts model. The goal of WHH methodology is restoration of the life God intended us to live; the life we were created for. That is the point of restoration, not what I think the Project’s life should look like, but how God intended it to be lived and loved. I am not sure my intentions were always that pure. Sometimes it felt like a zero-sums game where I could only win if The Institution lost. I had set up a situation where my Project had to choose between us, and The Institution rarely lost, not when the fate of the continent was in the balance. The Camino tells me I must implement a scenario where the intent of my actions was to help restore The Project’s life toward the one she was created to live, not to force a choice.
I walked with Ko today, a junior in college from South Korea. Ko and I met weeks ago but had not seen each other in more than a week. She calls herself a “none,” meaning she does not practice any religion. Most of the South Koreans I’ve met are Presbyterians, so I was interested to listen to her observations about faith.
“They are all the same…” she told me. “right?”
“I believe the world’s religion have at their core the same goals, or ideals, to help their believers become the people they were created to be. How they get there is different, and those differences are largely cultural, based on the culture they grew out of.”
“What do you mean?” She asked. Ko is studying psychology and wants to help people by being a counselor. We put together a list of the religions and where they came from:
- India: Buddhism; Hindu;
- Japan: Shinto;
- Italy: Catholic;
- Germany: Lutheran;
- USA: Methodism
- Middle East: Islam …
“Well, it’s like this,” I begin telling her about the food of India, Thailand and Ghana. “The thing is, each of those food types start with the same basic ingredients: garlic, onions and ginger, but what they do with them and how they do it makes all the difference.
That is how I see the religions of the world. They all start with the same goals of peace and guiding people toward the lives they were created to live, but how they do it is a way that makes sense to the culture (they came out of).
This discussion gets Ko thinking about food, and that night Ko makes Korean noodles for dinner, I put together a stir-fry and along with some other Koreans, we all enjoyed a great feast that started with garlic and onions but sadly no ginger.
The last few days the number of people on Camino has grown. The last 100km is what is needed to be granted a Compostela, the certificate of a completed walk, so all sorts of new, fresh pilgrims have joined the trails. They are fun, excited, and a fresh contrast to the weariness of us who have been walking longer. It might be that we are in the final days of our walk to Santiago, and that the end is near is on our hearts.
Are we ready, or will it be like MaryAnna said, “Santiago will always be with us.”