Today I walked 20 km, from Fromista to Carrión de los Condes. Most people stop here even if they feel strong, because the following 17 km go through a kind of nature preserve and there are no hostels or water fountains, very tough for pilgrims who have been walking since 6 or 6:30 in the morning.
I’m staying at a hostel called Santa María de los Caminos, an albergue run by nuns. They are very young and kind. When we arrived dusty and sweaty with our backpacks and dirty boots, they had set out orange juice and cookies for us. The way they greeted us is a lesson in how to treat people. A little welcoming refreshment isn’t hard to supply, and it provides a nice treat to people who could use it.
Every day on the Camino I either meet someone new or I run into someone I haven’t seen in a few days.
The Way of St. James is a continuous flow of people from all over the world–Romania, Japan, France, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, the U.S., Australia, and more. Someone comes into my life and then passes in a day, so I work at paying attention in the moment.
All that matters is enjoyment of the present moment, because we might not ever see each other again. Or we might meet again the next day, so it is always important to treat each other with kindness and respect.
Today I met José from Mexico. When I noted that his pack seemed to weigh a lot because I was walking faster than he was, he said it was because his pack was filled with all his sins and fears.
Most of us on the Camino are carrying fears, and some of us carry the memories of past mistakes. But whatever form the Great Creator takes, she forgives us the moment we come into the world. I don’t believe in original sin. I told José we all carry fears, that he is no worse than anyone else.
As far as fear goes, walking through wheat fields under the blue sky with a falcon overhead will burn off any lingering anxieties.