In our heads, we thought today was going to be one of the easier legs but we were wrong from the word GO!
Within the first 5 minutes, we were walking up an incline at what felt like at 60 degree for 3.5 km. Then the fog and mist were completely surrounding us just before the drizzle started. We had light rain on and off for most of the day. So on went the ponchos, then off came the ponchos, up went the umbrellas, down came the umbrellas. At least we got to put our rain gear to great use 🙂
Next, we trudged through mud before getting lost and needing to backtrack because we missed a track turn off! Which subsequently was downhill on loose rocks AGAIN! Our knees are never ever going to forgive us for this. This all happened JUST before the rains came – hard and fast!
And of course, for majority of the day, we did not see a single other pilgrim until the final 3 km. So we did feel like we were all alone and lost in the world.
It was a mentally trying day more than a physical one, that is for sure!
But guess what?! Whenever we got to a point where we needed help – the Camino provided! There was either a place to stop for lunch, a yellow arrow to redirect us or local people available to help us.
Our experiences on the Camino have centered a lot around giving. Whether it be giving someone a wave, physically giving someone something, just giving someone a hand or giving some advice.
The last few days in particular it has really been accentuated for us. A few days ago, we had stopped for a bit because of a cramp in Le’s leg. This lovely fellow pilgrim walked past and offered if he could help in any way and we explained it was just a cramp. He wished us well and on he went before turning back after 40 metres or so to give Le an energy bar that had Magnesium it in. He insisted we hold on to it.
Yesterday, we woke up for our rest day and when we opened our bedroom door, we saw a wine bottle with a note scrawled on it from a Camino friend who thought of us when he enjoyed a glass of the wine.
It was such a pleasant surprise even though we don’t drink alcohol but not for a second did that even cross our minds. What crossed our minds FIRST was what a wonderful gesture!
Then we went for lunch with some other Camino friends in Ponferrada after we visited the Templar Castle. And one of them said she would buy us lunch. We didn’t have her buy us our lunch.
And this is when it got us thinking. Not about her buying us lunch but about giving and receiving.
On the Camino, it is about giving and receiving and it’s about losing and gaining. And it does feel right regardless of whichever side you are on.
In society, some people love to give and while receiving sometimes feels unnatural for whatever reason, whether it be because we don’t want to appear like we are taking advantage of the situation or that we need help etc etc.
But the reality is, why is receiving so hard sometimes?! Is it our ego/conscious mind being too proud and not wanting to appear vulnerable, weak, or greedy? ? It actually doesn’t make any sense when such an act of kindness is rejected!
If someone is genuinely and sincerely giving us something, what is the harm in us saying thank you and accepting it?
There are ENDLESS stories of giving on the Camino and they are all heartfelt in some shape or form. They are such a natural act to witness. And it’s not just about giving someone a pair of shoes or an umbrella, it’s about giving so much more. It is about giving the recipient hope, shelter, warmth, love, compassion, kindness, security…. And the list goes on for the abstract things! But at the end of the day; To give, there needs to be someone on the receiving end. And that person on the receiving end, sometimes just needs to accept.
We need to be more gracious and just appreciate that someone cared ENOUGH for us to want to help or give us something. Even if it is buying us lunch. Maybe it is their way of showing us that they are thinking of us.