It was cold when I set off this morning – 7°c. The walk was flat and uneventful, and the sun didn’t break through till almost midday. Coming into Baamonde I walked with Martin from Holland, my St Christopher from couple of weeks ago, and got to know him a bit better. He is a film maker by trade and runs his own post production company. He is taking snippets of film as he goes and probably turning them into something when he gets home.
This prompted me to own up to him – and now to you – about something I’ve been doing each day, but not mentioned so far. Part of my reason for wanting to make this pilgrimage, was to get back in touch with things in myself that I have lost or mislaid along life’s journey, and to rediscover a simplicity, a thankfulness and trustfulness in each day. I knew this would involve laying some things down, especially things I have come to think of as necessary. My default setting whenever I am left to my own devices, is to write.
Indeed, many people asked me whether I would be writing a book about my journey on the Camino. Well, I haven’t laid down the writing. You know about this daily reflection, but what I have also been doing each day is writing a sonnet. I thought this might be a good thing to do before I set off. It both satisfies my desire and compulsion to write, but is also the sort of thing I can compose in my head as I go along. So as an idea for a poem has come to me, I have conjured up a few lines, and then stopped on the path and dictated these into my phone.
Then when I stop for something to eat, or in the evening, I go over what has been written during the day and see if anything remotely complete emerges. Most days something has come to me, and I am even pleased with one or two of them. Anyway, I told Martin about this, and now I’m telling you. And my reflection on this writing is that as well as satisfying the desire to write and to create, it is also an example of something slightly more uncomfortable I have learned about myself on this journey, namely that it is possible to be driven even when you walk. What began as a journey believing that what I would discover is a simple delight in taking each step as it comes, has inevitably become a series of goals and targets as I plan how far to walk each day, where to stop for lunch and where to sleep the night. And which sonnet to write! I am at ease about this.
It hasn’t stopped me enjoying each step, and the poems themselves have usually been born of an observation or delight that has come to me as I walked and enjoyed the beauty of what is around me, and let things within me that have often been obscured rise to the surface. And of course, I knew it all along, you can leave many things behind on a journey like this, but not yourself.
I’m not sure I’m quite ready to share the sonnets more widely. They mostly need more work. But today’s, like many of them muses on my relationship with God and with the world, and is a sort of conversation with God. One sided. Mostly. But then we all need to learn how to listen.
Martin and I carried on walking together in the afternoon. I had been in two minds as to whether to stop at Baamonde after 20km or press on to Miraz, another 16. We decided to press on. So 36km today. The longest I have done so far. I reckon I am now less than 100km from Santiago.
I am staying at the Albergue run by the English Confraternity of St James. Arriving with Martin we were given a very English welcome, and one of the volunteers helping to run the place is from Elm Park. I also had a cup of tea. My first for three weeks. It was fantastically delicious, warming, satisfying and restoring. Tea really is a wonderful drink. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it.
The church in Miraz did not have a Eucharist this evening, nor in the morning, but at 7.00pm the church was opened by the volunteers and we had a brief service of quiet reflection. It was very lovely.
I had dinner with Martin and another Dutch guy, Case, in a restaurant down the road: soup, pork, almond flan, red wine and coffee. Also met up with an Australian couple walking the Camino.
It was cold this evening, and after such a walk I am feeling very tired. The Spanish Brandy with which we finished the meal was warming and welcome.