Our bodies

Every day I see hundreds of pilgrims.  They either pass me, or in the rare instance or two I will pass them by.

Usually I exchange one of the following greetings:  ola!, buenos dias, que tal, buen Camino.  And, usually, unless they have ear plugs on, it is reciprocated.

I also look at how their bodies are responding to the rigors of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

What I’m seeing is a growing number of noticeable limps. Each limp is different.

The limp may come from sore muscles.  Or, from blisters. Or knee problems. Or calf issues. Or something else.

The first thing to hit me about this is that our bodies can only take so much.

The second thing that hits me is that most continue to walk the El Camino even with their limp.

Sure some do quit. Some take break days to try to recover.  My guess is that most don’t.  Most continue on the trek even though their body is hurting.

So far I have been lucky. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. I have soreness — in the knees, a little bit in the calf, definitely in the feet, and clearly on my bottom.  But, as far as I know, I am not limping yet.

One thought on “Our bodies”

  1. Neil St James is the route
    Here is a poem I found

    The Camino

    When we started, we did not know – exactly – why we were doing it
    We had lives which were – more or less – satisfactory
    We had friends known much of our lives
    We had children – changed from chrysalis to butterflies
    We had things:
    things like machines
    things like music
    things like pictures
    things like shelves full of books
    things like money and pensions and security
    We did not have one thing – and maybe that was why we started

    When we started, we put one foot in front of the other
    We still did not know – precisely – why we were doing it
    The miles passed – many of them pleasantly
    Our feet blistered and were slow to heal
    Our ankles turned on loose stones
    The rain beat its way through our clothes
    The cold chilled the marrow of our bones
    Some nights, refuge was hard to find
    Some days, miles of hot dust had no fountains

    When the first few of many long days had passed
    We found – without words – that we no longer walked together
    That together we spoke in our own tongues –
    and often of things we had left behind where we began
    That together we shut out new experience with the wall of our togetherness
    That alone we spoke in other tongues and of our common experience
    That alone we were open – open with interest and curiosity.
    Often we met – with gladness – at the end of the day
    To know our paths went on together was enough

    When we got to the cathedral we sat down
    We saw – through the eyes of those long before us
    The blinding faith, the crucial thirst for salvation
    The tower slowly closing off the sky
    And we counted our blessings – several hundred of them
    Starting with the kindness of ordinary people on the way
    And with the warmth of other travellers on the road
    Travellers not at all like us – not in age, not in origin, not in interests
    But warm across all these distancings
    And ending with the friendship and love
    We had left behind where we began.

    When we got to the sea at the end of the world
    We sat down on the beach at sunset
    We knew why we had done it
    To know our lives less important than just one grain of sand
    To know that we did not need the things we had left behind us
    To know the we would nevertheless return to them
    To know that we needed to be where we belonged
    To know that kindness and friendship and love is all one needs
    To know that we did not – after all – have to make this long journey to find this out
    To know that – for us – it certainly helped

    written near Sanguesa, Navarra, September 2003

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