Baby Girl came into bed at 6:30 this morning, and insisted on sleeping on my neck. But I didn’t mind. The wind was cooling the room, and the sky was the over-cast helmet of a day of rain. Perfect napping weather, except I had to crawl out of my cocoon and start the day. I smiled at my Sweetie as he read his iPad, the blue glow on his face. When I’m like this I’m all haimish and happy. Then, I get up and the spell is broken.
I worry. And worry and worry. Will there be enough? Enough to cover piano lessons, enough milk in the fridge for cereal, enough time to remember the project for school before they dash out the door? Will I have enough patience not to snap, not to shout, to jump in the air for the 40th time that day and pretend to be surprised when she stomps up behind me and yells “Boo?”
Who will pay for our retirement? What if something happens to one of us? Maybe I should go back to work and help out around here. It’s so hard to always say “no.” No, you can’t have that. No, it’s too much money. No, we don’t have time today. No, your Father and I don’t think it’s a good idea. So, no. Face falls, shoulders slump. “I knew you’d say that….”
For years now, I’ve been researching the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of Saint James), which crosses from France over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. It is my Sweetheart’s and my dream to one day walk it together. A common thread seems to unite the reflections of the pelegrinos (the name for all “pilgrims” on the route) is that the Camino is life, and life is the Camino. Everyday you get up and keep walking. Did you have great day? Super! Now, keep walking. Things going bad and everything’s wrong? Rats. Keep walking. Just like daily life with it’s tiny victories and humiliations — just keep walking.
But what is so illuminating about a physical pilgrimage, is that it’s pretty hard to hide our decision to stop walking. By Day 3 of your “Rest Stop” sitting in a Pub in some picturesque Spanish village, it has become apparent to everyone, including yourself, that you are going nowhere. In the river of daily life though, it’s easy to be caught up in some little ebb and happily bob along there until it is too late. The race was run and all you’ve got to show for it is a really awesome DVD collection, and a decent on-line gaming personae. Trying to avoid the pain of the step after step after step, you missed the entire journey. The gnawing in the pit of your stomach that you took the easy way out.
It seems I can walk the Camino without ever leaving home. (This is awesome, because with trans-Atlantic flights costing what they do, I feel like we’ll be using walkers by the time we save up enough. But who knows? Maybe by then it will be Wheelchair Accessible.) The question is whether I can keep going, step after packed lunch after messy room after bill to pay after step. And if I don’t look at the big picture, but just do the little bit in front of me, well, I think — I hope — I can. Just do the next thing and somehow we’ll all get to where we are supposed to go.
Update: I realized that I should have listed some of the Camino resources/reflections that I stumbled across that might be of some interest to you all. As Brother James mentioned in the comments, there is the excellently reviewed movie The Way, which is hovering at the top of my to see list. However, the rest of these I have had the chance to check out personally:
I just recently read this reflection by Dr. José Pereira, a Palliative Care Doctor at the Nothing More Beautiful Event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Edmonton on May 10, 2012. It is not a description of the Camino but a spiritual reflection of the impact the journey had on Dr. Pereira and his faith.
I was struck by several similarities to a programme on CBC Radio 2 I had stumbled on a few Sundays previous. The program was called Inside the Music and it highlighted the work of fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer (1956-2008) who walked the Camino and recorded his own work in various Churches along the way and collected in the album Camino. The description of “keep walking” was a paraphrase of (what must of been previously recorded) Schroer’s.
Finally, if you are looking for a well-written travelogue with some wry commentary on just how weird thing can get with a bunch of women, get a hold of Jane Christmas’ What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim. This book has a lot of great information on the nuts and bolts of the Camino, and some “funny now that it’s over” observations on traveling en masse with fellow females.