A few thoughts from last night. We stayed at a wonderful albergue yesterday called Suseia. The hospitalera was the embodiment of hospitality, the meal she served was in the gourmet range (for 13 euros), and the dinner company was wonderful. We shared a table with six of nine French women who were traveling together. These nine women, probably most in their 50s, have been traveling to Spain to spend a week together every year walking the Camino for the last 6 years. They were kind enough to speak English with us, and were delightful conversation partners. They talked lovingly of husbands and children, but mostly they just affirmed their commitment to each other. While I couldn’t figure out the spiritual practice of any of these people, theirs was a deep and joyful commitment to their particular community of women.
Two – thirds of today was a wonderful walk. The last third I sort of lost my pilgrim spirit. I’m not sure I was particularly kind to a woman named Eva (from Sweden) who wanted to walk with us. My “Health” App on my phone says we walked about 19 miles. I think we overestimated our abilities. In addition, while we had ample snacks and water – we did not make time for a proper lunch break and rest. (Not a good plan.) Tomorrow should be a shorter walk with a bit more time to rest. We made our way through forests and plains, and though our guidebooks told us this would be a relatively “flat” day, I’m not convinced. We also walked through the town of Pamplona, the site of the festival of San Fermin and the running of the bulls. Were we a little bit more energetic, we might take a bus back into town to see a few sites, but right now the best I can do is sit here and drink a beer.
We did stop in at one church (San Esteban) at a place called Zabaldica, where we were able to ring an ancient bell and I sat next to a 13th century baptismal font. (Imagine those who have gathered around that sculpted stone object over the centuries!)
There too, the 9 French women sat and prayed. At the entrance of the sanctuary was a fascinating crucifix where pilgrims and others would write prayers on Post-it Notes and attach them all around the sculpture. It seems a fitting coming together of the ancient and post-modern world. The through line is that we always seem to yearn for someone and something beyond ourselves.