What on earth am I doing?
This was the question that resonated with me all day. What on earth am I doing? What on earth am I doing walking the Camino? What on earth am I doing on the Journey? What on earth am I doing in Spain?
This is how the Guide Book described the way today: We pass through a flat somewhat featureless landscape with little or no shade (A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago, John Brierley, p. 158).
Is it any wonder I asked: Dear God, what on earth am I doing?
The start of the day
The start of the day was promising. I walked past a statue outside Carrión de los Condes with this inscription: En la vida eres un peregrino al la eternidad de Dios. he translation is: In life, you are a pilgrim to the eternity of God. This reminded me that we are but pilgrims here on earth as we eagerly wait to go to our heavenly home.
The sunrise was also beautiful. The colours mesmerize me every time. And, this a bonus, the road was level. How little did I know that this level road will almost be my spiritual demise.
No more blisters, but an aching shin
I have shared with you the many joys Lefty and the blisters brought me, right? Well, the blisters have packed their bags. Today, another resident decided to visit … it was that muscle by the shin bone. Only two inches of it started to hurt like there was no tomorrow. Tears ran down my cheeks. I was in agonizing pain. The pace got slower and slower, and I wondered: what on earth am I doing here?!
The Mobile Café
The 18 km stretch of road was truly barren. There were a few trees beside the road in the beginning, but they are a thing of the past now. The only other oasis on this God forsaken (I was having a tough time now) was a Moble Café … a busy one. I took refuge on a cement bench a few meters past the oasis to give my shin a rest. Luckily, the ibuprofen cream was in my backpack … it helped a little. After a 20 minute rest, I hobbled on … 7 km to go.
The longest 7 km on earth
By this time my spirit was down in the dumps and I wanted to go home. The Camino de Santiago can go a warm place. Well, it was a warm place. The temperature pushed the mercury to 27 C and with no wind nor clouds nor share it … it was hard. I looked to fields on the left and on the right. They were beyond barren. It looked like the people farmed with rocks.
5 km more to go. Not even the thought of a shower and some food lifted my spirit. The landscape, barren landscape where people farm with rocks, did nothing for my spirit. “But what about the beautiful blue skies,” you ask. Beautiful blue skies look a lot different when the hot sun is beating down on you for hours with no shade of breeze to cool you down. I even resorted to counting my steps … the first and only time during the Camino.
Yet, a good end to the day
I was relieved when I reach my resting place for the night. Before I even checked in, I ordered something to eat and to drink. That coke never taste that good. And the food, beyond delicious.
After a little rest, even though it was still very warm, my spirit started to improve. I went to the cafe at the hostel and ate three ice creams and drank two coffees while sitting in the shade. The lady who worked there was from Paraguay. Since I lived for there a few years, we spoke a little and she asked if I still remember who to speak Guarani.
A final thought
This journey reminded my a lot about the challenging times we go through on life’s journey. There are times when we ask, “God, what on earth am I doing here?” Our spirit may even feel defeated. And like Christ on the cross, we may even utter, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And yet, staying on course, even when the spirit feel broken, at the end of the day we will be refreshed.