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”
Neil St James is the route
Here is a poem I found
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