“Buen Camino”. The wishes from the old man just having stamped our pilgrim passes feels honest, and full of warmth. His eyes tell that this is important to him. The intensity in the presence of the moment sends a shiver through my entire body. We are here. In Sait Jean Pied du Port. To walk the first parts of Camino Frances, over the pyrenees into spain, toward Santiago de Compostela. Tomorrow, our walk begins.
It is still dark when we enter the small bar for breakfast: a cafe au lait, a croissant and a cheese pie. It is raining, and still pilgrims come in a seemingly endless stream of vagabonds joining the route leading up to the Pyrinees. To start the walk on Camino Frances.
The rain fades into fog, as we gain altitude, and we cross the mountains embedded in clouds. I reflect on the beauty in engaging with other senses than seeing to experience the mountains. Feeling the scents of the mountain, hearing the sounds of the hills with its heards of sheep and horses, tasting the blackberries and the mist on our way up. The landscape is hidden in clouds, and only in brief moments we get a view of the marvelous scenery stretching as far as the eye can see.
The metafor is striking. Much of the time, our inner landscape is hidden from us. In brief moments we get a glimpse of the grandeur behind the vail. And we need to train in navigating our interior selves using other ways than cognition. To invite a wider presence, of all senses, of the intuitive self and the deeper levels of knowing. In that, we will start experiencing life as magical.
We wake up at the monastery in Roncesvalles the following morning. Life in simplicity is incredibly liberating. To wake up. To put on the single pair of long pants (the morning hours are chilly). To chose the merino wool t-shirt I have for walking (the other one I use for the evening hours, while the walking t-shirt dries up and gets aired). Pulling the only warmer shirt in the backpack over my head. Tie my only pair of shoes. Put the backpack on, and start walking. While the day slowly dawns, shifting the landscape from dark to light. The lack of choices help increase presence. Help me experience what actually is, in this present moment. And that present centered awareness makes life so incredibly alive. Makes details stand out in their full beauty. Make magic.
An hour later we find a bar serving breakfast. (and that is a relief. We are getting quite hungry). I overhear Karin’s chat with the bartender. “I don't know where my mind is today”, He says after mixing up oat milk with almond milk. “...probably in outer space”, he says. “Wow, that's a beautiful place to be” Karin replies. That becomes the opening of a chat that soon turns into a deep conversation. Lastning maybe 2 minutes. Holding wisdom from the ancient philosophers and teachings.That we are all part of a greater whole. With the universe as our home, and our playground. The bar owner puts his hand on his heart. “Everything starts here, in meeting ourselves. In knowing ourselves”, he says, with a deeply conscious tone in his voice, and a light of truth in his eyes. “Otherwise we will get lost in the outer world”. They thank each other, and move on in their separate paths in life.
I have the sense of just having witnessed a deep and magical meeting between two souls in deep connection, in separate bodies. Both being part of the same greater whole. This is the kind of meetings that take place on the Camino.
I spend a few hours that day walking with that conversation. How to really meet ourselves. How to embrace what we meet, not to get lost in the outer world. And I feel deeply grateful and humble that this is the gift we have been given to give. To help people meet themselves. Not to get lost in the outer world.
The rest of the days flow in a similar manner. Simplicity. Walking. Deep conversations and meetings with others. Magical conversations with nature. Both leading to healing meetings with myself.
Conversations with a Spanish nun telling her story. Tasting of ripe wild grapes, almonds, blackberries. Meditation in sceneries of nature i have never dreamt of. Food tasting so sweet after a day of walking. Coffee and a croissant in the shade, while resting my tired feet. Water from springs along the way. All this on a pilgrim route having been walked for a thousand years. With a group of people I now will have a special bond with. We will return, to discovering more of what it is to be human.This was a healing and opening walk. Or rather, it is really so much more than just a walk. Camino de Santiago is an unforgettable and unique journey for the body, the mind and the soul.
Thank you, Camino Frances!