El Camino: Day 1 – Monday

We slept in. Sleep is just so darn necessary, especially for teenage girls. I can’t remember how many books I’ve read on spiritual disciplines that address the need for sleep in the earliest chapters. As we seek to be more attentive to God and God’s purpose for our lives, if we’re too tired in the moment it’s easy to miss out on one sign or opportunity or another. I can’t remember where I first heard it but long ago someone said when Adam and Eve went to sleep at night was when they first tested their faith that God would care for them while they lay helpless through the night. In truth, we practice faith whenever we sleep trusting that God is in deed in charge of the world while we are not. Again, bear in mind that one day earlier we left Istanbul, Turkey, following two days of high stress in the midst of a failed military coup.

It seemed someone ironic, then to begin our first day of walking by taking a taxi through town to the trail head. It was hard not to feel somewhat separated from our fellow sojourners most of whom, I’m most certain, had been walking for several days already. Be that as it may, however, we soon met and engaged our comrades only to learn that each one had a unique story and situation. And for us, it became easier to accept that our reason for walking El Camino was just as valid as anyone’s, given the lengthy sabbatical and most recently, the caper in Istanbul. The trail seemed to be the perfect place for us to debrief by sharing with others and to reflect on the life we had in contrast to the people of Turkey as they sorted out their political differences.

Walking felt good. In all (Israel, and Greece) we had rented 3 cars to help us get from one point to another. Cars are good for fulfilling personal plans and we were blessed by the freedom they provided us. Not everyone is so lucky to either own or rent a car, and are left to the timetable and mercy of public transportation or on foot.

So it was good to be outdoors, safe, to observe the beauty of northern Spain, and to be a pilgrim among pilgrims on El Camino de Santiago, each one traveling for his /her reason. I thinked we walked two or more hours before we stopped for lunch. Oddly, we aren’t carrying a book describing the trek from village to village, and perhaps listing available places to rest or eat. So we did a lot of asking.

The day was exceptionally warm, even for the locals. So we pushed as hard as we felt possible knowing that our luggage was ahead of us and walk we would, regardless of the sun. So it was just outside of town and we were told the next stop was over an hour away, and we were headed uphill when we spotted a possible place for lunch. We’ve come to refer to this first stop as the Hippy House, as the people…well, they just fit the mold. Tie-dyed loose fitting clothes, etc, yet ever so welcoming. We had the most delicious fresh salad and gaspacho as we shared our tale of Istanbul to eager listeners who seemed to understand our needs. We were invited to rest (ie, nap) after lunch, and followed by a yoga session. It was all so very fitting, but strange as it was definitely not on our list of expectations for the day. After about three hours we headed back on the road where the sun’s rays had been hard at work sharing its heat with the pavement underfoot. We drank and walked, and walked and drank. I think our endurance was more easily sustained by the fact that this was our first day.

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