MEMORIES OF THE CAMINO
MEMORIES OF THE CAMINO
Saw nothing down below on the way to Vancouver –
a more or less straight line for nine hours or so.
Sat above a wing, beside a door, paying more
for the privilege, my legs need to stretch for these
longer hauls – all part of the call on me by
Mister P, some while ago, some day that was.
I watched a documentary on the Camino de Santiago
(Saint James), the ecstasy and the pain of
half a dozen pellegrinos taking to the road from
St Jean Pied du Port, French Pyrennees,
across Northern Spain to the Saint’s city, in whose
cathedral lie his bones (such is the belief).
I watched – I’d done the same eight years before,
just the walkers and their stories changed.
The filming of the route, the sunrise starts,
all so familiar; and, as I did those eight short years ago,
I wept to see the camino take in hand the lives of
pilgrims, comfort them and help them grow –
which may sound trite but understates
the lightness of their hearts and minds
after looking out for others day by day;
each one a gift to humankind because they’d
taken, revered, the gifts of pilgrimage,
planted them deep inside, promised not to forget.
And the tears that flow or flood or brush the rims
of tired eyes set on the square, watching out for
friends met on the Way and maybe left some
days or weeks before, are tears of thanks for the
very being of the trail, the fight to carry on when
the body aches, the constant stream
of walkers, each with a story none else has,
a pre-camino past, knowing that it has all passed,
for the road alters everything, and for good,
and few are disappointed; for most, they learn to
obey the teachings of the Way, to walk with the Way,
in the rhythm that belongs to them and them alone.
To watch all this again, eight years on, images of
pilgrims I’d met and grown to love, and images
of days when I’d walked alone, both weighed down
with pain and buoyed up with the feelings of a king
checking out his domain, when wellbeing seeped
from every pore for a score of miles, often more.
I swore I’d do it all again, take the pain, limp
along the path, retracing steps, hear laughter
in echo. For sure, I wouldn’t be the first to hobble
all the way, though faith would play a larger part,
to deal with doubt. I note how I reach out, already,
to hope and prayer and smile at my entrapment.