Finding the courage to acknowledge and let our old patterns go, even as we are unsure of what our lives will look like without them.
Trabadelo was a small cluster of buildings along a winding river right at the base of the last mountain range that we would traverse before the end of the trail. A few nights before, we met a man in his late twenties from Tasmania who had walked around the world on his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He had started nearly two years ago and had walked up through South and Central America into the States and Canada. He then flew to Russia and walked all the way across Asia and Europe to Spain. He planned to end at Fisterra where my friends and I planned to finish. Having now walked several hundred miles ourselves, we were in awe of his seventeen thousand mile journey. He was an interesting character, reminding me of a charismatic person I had known in my life before the Camino. I was drawn to getting to know him even as he gave me very mixed signals. This pilgrim gave me a great gift. He revealed to me a relationship pattern that had left me lonely. He helped me to see how I could choose more accessible people to be part of my life. As a familiar relationship paradigm played out at lightning speed, I realized I was not bound to continue a pattern that had not worked for me in the past. When this pilgrim woke me at 4 am to tell me he was walking ahead of our group and would not be stopping where our group was stopping, I said goodbye. Though it was tough, I allowed myself the chance for the first time to not follow this pattern. It took days to find peace with my choice, but the land and Flowers along this stretch gave me the courage to listen to my newly minted wisdom.
Accessing the strength to keep moving forward and leave behind the people and places in your life that you have loved yet know are not part of your onward growth as a soul.
On the top slopes of the entrance into the region of Galicia lies Oâ€™Cebreiro, a small town tucked in the clouds. It was a place that I stopped at for only a brief moment before moving on down into the valley beyond. The group I was traveling with had swelled to twelve, but suddenly the group was breaking into pieces. This was a complex moment, when I had to make a choice about whom I would travel with during the rest of the trail. I decided to move on with the two American guys and the three British boys. They were walking about 10k further than where the rest of the group was spending the night. As I walked down the backside of the village with this new smaller group, I was overcome with sadness about leaving the others behind and began to cry. One of my friends waited with me in the shade of a tree as I let the tears pass. I came to understand that this sadness was really about all the moments in my life when I had to leave behind people that I loved but knew I needed to part with. The sorrow was for all the loss, even in the face of the truth that it was the wisest and strongest decision for my soul. This essence of Galician Flowers is there to support us in all these moments of letting go, as well as to help us heal all the old scars of such moments we may not even know we still carry with us.
Moving with kindness and grace on your spiritual journey, even as you travel alongside groups of souls who are not, or have not been, on such intensive internal courses.
When our group entered the last stages of the trail, many elements of our day-to-day life were now second nature to us and we were thrilled to be so close to the end of our pilgrimage. One of the elements that we were not prepared for was the massive increase of people on the trail. One trail fact is that at the end of your pilgrimage most pilgrims go to the cathedral in Santiago to receive a compostela. This document establishes that you have walked the trail. It has religious significance for many. In order to get this certificate, you must walk at least the last 100km/60 miles of the trail. Hence many people only walk the last 100km.
Around the 100km marker in the region of Galicia the trail became clogged with teens in shiny gold sneakers, side shoulder slung backpacks and cans of soda as trail drinks. This was a jarring shock to all of us who had traveled from France and beyond. Before this point, when you can across people on the trail, they were like fellow warriors. There was a bond that might have been simply a nod of acknowledgement, or a lengthy talk, but always one of comraderie. Now we pushed through crowds of chatty teens who barely noticed our passing, or groups of couples that walked only with water as their bags had been bused ahead to their next destination. This was a new element and it took much patience and centering to stay connected to the arc of our journey.