the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 15; June 15, 2016, Wednesday morning. Irun, Spain.
Today: Irún to San Sebastian, 26.5 Km.
People are good, aren’t they?
Report from the front line.
This is a joint post by me, Nick Tate, doing the typing, and Tom Gehring doing the talking and . . . the drinking of coffee. It’s not Pope Francis coffee, but it will have to do. It’s albergue coffee.
And more pilgrims are slipping into the dining area right now. At 4:00 a.m. in a small little albergue you can hear snoring, people going to the bathroom, and see zombie like people roaming the halls looking for something. Basically, everyone has arrived here at the starting point from all over the world, so we’re all on different time zones. It’s 4:00 a.m. here, but its 7:00 p.m. yesterday in Los Angeles.
It’s quite dark, or low light here in the dining area so as not to wake people. So, Heidi is telling us that she is here to build on her relationship with God. She’s probably 23 or so, but in albergue sleeping clothes at four in the morning, it’s hard to tell.
So, what’s our problem? Tom asks those, blurry eyed, sitting here at the table. Heidi says she anxious about starting the Camino tomorrow and can’t sleep.
“Are you nervous about finding God?” Tom asks.
“No, but maybe nervous about what he might say is his plan for my life, because I want to find God, and find my purpose. I don’t’ have a clue.”
And Victor, also joining us at the table, says, “well, I’m 55, and I’m here also to see what God wants me to do with the rest of my life.”
So Heidi looks at our basket of people sitting around the table, which by 4:30 a.m. has grown to about eight, if anyone is not searching for something. By the looks on their faces the answer is: no. And the comments start coming. Here’s a short list:
1. “I want peace about what I’m doing at home in Denver, I’m a doctor, and I hate the system and everything about it. I can’t understand where I went wrong. Is it me, or the practice of medicine?”
2. “I fell out of love with my husband. Why’s not important now, but I’m looking for direction,” said Emily from Paris in the sweetest French English you can image. (I nudge Tom). At least everyone is speaking in English (sort of), because, of course, Tom’s leading the charge.
3. “I want a closer relationship with God. No, actually I want to find him. I mean, really—does he really exist? I’m sorry, but I need proof.” Tadoosh, from Romania, seemed to get angry as he finished his answer.
4. “I’m burned out,” said Charles from New York. “Fifty years old, several stents, overweight, unhappy . . . “ Okay, maybe Charles went on a little longer but I couldn’t keep up.
5. We were saved by Chloe. “I’m good.” She nodded her head. “My life is good. I’m just having a hard time understanding why people can be so horrible. What with Orlando, Paris, ISIS, wars . . . ?” She trailed off. “You know, I am determined to remain positive about this human experience, I want to hold on to my hope and trust that people are good.” . . . Wow, long long pause by all the people at the table. It was like news reels were running in our heads. . . .
Chloe shrugged: “People are good, aren’t they?” This wave of sadness/depression seemed to wash over us.
And so on. This conversation went on until about 5:30 a.m. And I could see that the assemblage of people that would be having a pilgrims’ breakfast, and then starting the Camino would be about fifteen to twenty out of this Albergue. Most of us figured we’d all leave at about 6:30 a.m.
And that was it. Time to get ready. No trumpets. The snoring had subsided. The bathroom was still in action. And shortly,
. . . we would be taking our first step.
. . .
Tom Report from the front line, July 11th: Looking back at this post, it seems trite to me. All this looking for God stuff, and other issues. By now, 400 miles into the trek, and so strong, it’s as if God has spoken to all of us and said: don’t talk about me, don’t worry about me, just enjoy the journey, The Way, the path, nature, each step . . . step by step, enjoy your new friends, your adventures, the peace. You are where you are supposed to be. Stop thinking, don’t worry about anything,
I’m here . . .
and I will see you
. . .