Holding faith in the emptiness before the dawning of the next chapter when you will find your authentic and supportive community.
This dusty town was the place I slept after a particularly long and hot day. Much of the walking was along a dishearteningly ugly highway. Since the Camino has been in existence for over a thousand years, itâ€™s route across the country is usually the most direct way to get from place to place. The modern Spanish government has not been blind to this fact. Roads, like the busy N120, have been constructed alongside the trail in a many places.
After a day of noise from cars and a longing for a more peaceful track, Belorado was a safe harbor. I found this a challenging stretch mostly because my body was now in full revolt from my ever-quickening pace. I had this feeling deep in my bones that there were young people I was meant to meet up ahead, so I pushed myself to walk farther and farther each day. This had caused my achilles to bunch up like tightened rubber bands and brought on tendonitis with each step. The church in the town was covered in large nests. Beautiful long legged storks had fashioned these nests to sit atop the spires. Somehow I need to remain calm in the face of another dayâ€™s journey towards community. I ate pasta, slept, and awoke at 5 am to begin my walk in the dark. It was a Saturday. As I took off into the outskirts of town, young Spaniards were still in the streets, awake from clubbing the night before. To them I must have seemed an apparition that their addled senses could not understand. That day I walked 50km/30 miles. I hardly stopped to eat. The road just fell away before me. At midday, I saw the city that was my goal and I knew I would reach it. That night, I met two American guys, who were part of the group that I would travel with until the end of the trail. They later told me that I seemed positively rabid to talk to them. I was rabid, for the part of my journey without community was thankfully over.
Finding the inner kindness to listen to your body with compassion.
Hontanas was the first place I spent the night in the very distinctive region called the Meseta. The trail runs through the Meseta for about a week and a half. The Meseta is known to be dry, hot, treeless, and very flat. The towns are very compact in this area and sit like islands in the midst of golden heat. Of all the geography that the pilgrim encounters on the trail, this one is the most talked about. People note its intensity. Most have a strong reaction to the empty vastness one way or another. For some, it clears the mind. For others, it is endless tracks of the same as far as the eye can see. Hontanas was a town in the middle of the Meseta. For miles all that could be seen of the tiny hamlet was a church spire that look as if it were a few feet off the ground. The land was like being at sea; grass waving and the clouds reaching right to the edge of the earth. As I got closer to the town, the houses and old streets came into view down in a little valley, tucked against the edges of the only hollow for miles. This sweet and mellow town seemed unperturbed by the constant change in weather that brought blazing sun one minute and then torrential rain the next.
When I stopped in Hontanas, it was clear that the pain in my legs, or my ankles to be more specific, had finally caught up with me. I arrived at midday and would have liked to press on, but my body said no. I had to trust this wisdom. In return I had a very precious talk with a woman in the albergue and met up with my new American friends again. Let me tell you, listening to my body was not an easy task, but just as Hontanas was cradled by the Earth, this point on the trail compelled me to cradle myself. The restorative work I did that night was essential for all that would come for me in the following days.
Breaking down the behaviors triggered by fear that cause us to push our physical and emotional selves beyond balance.
This Essence combination came from the Flowers collected around one of the more challenging moments on the trail in terms of my internal journey. I had met up the previous night with both the American boys and a much bigger group of three British guys, two British girls, two Germans, an Australian young woman, and a man from the Netherlands who had started the trail at his front door. It was suddenly a different trip, filled with laughter and companionship.
But I was still a bit edgy about slowing down from my spartan pace, so the next morning I walked beyond where the group had arranged to meet for the night. I donâ€™t exactly know what possessed me to do so, but it meant that I walked in the blazing afternoon heat, ran out of water, burned my legs so badly that they bled, and generally felt physically scared for the first time. When I arrived in Sahagun, the albergue was empty. I felt bereft of my new community. I knew that I had pushed too hard and I needed to look at the personality pattern that drove me to that. The next day, I slowed my pace dramatically and walked only a few kilometers so as to meet up with the group again. As I sat in the grass and waited for the group to catch me, I realized that I was ready to look at the pattern and let it go with kindness. I think this Essence will be helpful for any that find themselves in a similar place.