There is something about El Camino I have not delved into yet, or better – someone – who is there all along the way, breath-taking, yet silent; always changing, yet immutable over the centuries of our human history of pilgrims. God’s company in its power and beautiful perfection, and a strongest call to people of all faith and walks of life: nature.
As I might have mentioned, I am not really an outdoorsy king of girl. I have never been. Actually, some of my worst memories are connected to different adventures out in nature. Like when I got lost in the water, among hundreds of people swimming in the Mediterranean. More than swimming – walking – as the place we were was extremely kid-friendly and the water got high hundreds of feet out in the sea. I was around 6 years old. I lost sight of my brother, and could not see my parents on the shore – even though I was possibly just 30 feet from the water’s edge. I think I stood there, floating on my water ring, looking around, tears in my eyes for a really long time, so much so that the lifeguard approached me and just told me to get off my swim ring and walk out of the water. He did not even bother to get me on board as the water must have been really shallow. Lucky as I am, where nature adventures are concerned, I stretched down my legs but could not feel anything under my feet. On the contrary, I almost went under. Which, I am now sure in retrospect, must have been one of those holes that are frequently found on the Mediterranean sea bottom. I don’t even remember how I got back to my parents – my mind keeps no records after almost going under. But I know it took me several years to get back in the water! I guess this is how my outdoorsy personality got squashed, and it looks like I only developed my indoors personality…
California somehow resurfaced that lost personality. Too much beauty to always stay indoors.
Then El Camino. Or better, Galicia – as we walked only the last 65 miles. This small coastal region overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and as such is extremely green and wet. Its hills are gentle and its past still lives on. We walked through thick forests and up and down immense fields enjoying the morning fog and the ever-changing sky. We passed through small stone villages that look hundreds of years old, and relished in the silence we found. And I must admit, words come short now to describe such experience of immersing ourselves in the beauty and power of nature, a faithful companion on the way, which was meditation itself, and a hymn to the greatness of our world and its Creator.
Who would have thought, that I could ever enjoy nature, the sun and rain, the forest canopy, speeding up the hills or walking into the fog. Yet I did, and it was prayer, it was joy and gratefulness. It was the greater adventure of the pilgrimage, that is, life.