I start walking. The morning brings another difficult climb. My mind starts to meddle in things. Maybe I need a rest day... Maybe I don't finish it this year. I can't believe that my mind thinks that I would let it sabotage me with so little to go.
I decide it's time to listen to a dialogue I had with my shaman before leaving for the camino. I plug in my earphones and allow myself to be completely absorbed in what I'm listening to. I'm surprised about how much i have forgotten about what we discussed but I'm also pleasantly surprised about how many things we discussed seem to have naturally emerged through the camino. I'm also shocked at how different the experience of walking is when I'm listening to a recording at the same time. On the one hand the walking really helps to embed the dialogue in me. On the other I become unconscious of walking, not present to it or what is going on around me. I finish listening to the recording as I enter an ancient forest. Wise old trees greet me, their roots entwined together. Two old ladies offer filloas for a donation as we walk by. An old man with piercing blue eyes walks alongside his best friend a beautiful german shepherd. It's such a different world here. Unlike the Spain most people imagine. We get to our destination early find a little albergue then go back out to eat callos Gallego.
For the first time on the camino I have a proper siesta. I wake up feeling completely refreshed. Like a new person. I walk out into the town wondering where my feet are going to take me. I have absolutely no idea. I arrive at the local church: parrochial de Santiago peregrino de triacastela. It's 7.00pm and the pilgrims mass is about to start. I figure that if my feet have taken me here to arrive at this time I might as well go in and attend the mass.
At first I think the priest is loud, bossy, patriarchal. I then think he is mad. I think about stratergies to extract myself from the building surreptitiously. then I finally get it. He is a spiritual maverick. Progressive. He is alive. He has his own mind. He totally gets it. He is what every priest should be. He sets about determining the nationalities of all the pilgrims and arming us with papers on the camino as a spiritual experience in our own language. He jokes with us. He warns us this mass is not about just listening we are going to have to participate fully. This involves me standing at the front representing the English speaking community with four other key language representatives and regularly being asked to the pulpit to read.
He reminds us:
Our spiritual life is stifled by habitual behaviour
We need to enjoy life (Christians always seem too miserable to him)
Jesus wasn't a theologian but he knew more than most of them
We have to accept and love all people whatever their beliefs
The camino is a journey within to find your true self
Wow! This guy was blowing my mind. He had thrown out the rule book and was doing a mass like I had never experienced before. It was so special. We all held hands. When it came to shaking hands as a sign of peace he insisted we hug each other. He gave me the biggest hug ever. Lifted me up off my feet. I just couldn't believe what was happening.
Just when I thought the camino was ending - new life was being breathed into it. I'll never forget this church, father Augusto and this incredible mass.
what a blessing.
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Location:El Cebreiro to Triacastela