April 4th (Holy Saturday)
SANTO DOMINGO de la CALZADA to BELORADO
“…Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water, clean floor. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water, clean floor…”
(pg 120/ A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)
Clouds and a soft rain blanketed this Saturday. I recalled a story by Diarmuid O’Murchu at an Easter Triduum Retreat I attended several years ago—
A little girl sat in a classroom filled with many young children. The teacher decided to question the children…she asked if they knew the significance of each of the final days before Easter. “What happened on Holy Thursday?” All the children raised their hands explaining what took place on Holy Thursday…all except for one little girl at the back of the classroom. The teacher was overjoyed by the children’s excitement, but made a mental note of the little girl’s lack of response. “Well, what happened on GOOD Friday?” There was a pause—BUT then bodies leaped from their desks except the little girl in the back of the room. Now, the teacher was concerned and could not concentrate. Before thinking, she asked “What happened on Saturday?” Now, she herself, was not certain. Not a hand rose, BUT in the back row the little girl raised her hand. The teacher, mystified, paused and said to the child, “Your know what happened on Saturday?” She nodded her head and responded— “That is when Jesus descended into hell and went to get his good friend Judas!”
There was NOT a dry eye among the retreatants. Today, as I recalled this story, my eyes were not dry. Suddenly from behind, I was joined by a young man who walked beside me yesterday for part of the path.
He taught me two Spanish words:
1. ULTREIA…meaning WALK and 2. SUSEIA…meaning ‘up’…one pilgrim wishes the first word to the other and the other pilgrim responds SUSEIA.
He knew enough English that for some time we broke open parts of ‘our’ stories—
Then we began singing, “It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart…without saying a word you light up the dark…you say it BEST when you say NOTHING at all.”
We both began to laugh and then walked along quietly.
My path came to an end for the day, but he was going on. He was 28 years old…lost his father two years ago. He stopped…removed his Camino shell from his pack, and handed it to me. He found one with an eagle painted on the inside. He gave me his shell…the one he carried for his dad AND he found a new one today.
AND…with that I was mindful of a dynamic bond of women I’ve come to call ‘Soul Sisters.’
My first ‘gathering’ with these women took place at Mercy Center…Madison, CT.
Edwina Gateley celebrated this retreat. I attended several more programs she facilitated. The unique part was that I re-gathered with women from previous retreats led by E. Gateley. One retreat, in particular, again at Madison (my true Baptismal Place), connected me to a special Sister, my kayak pal. She offered me the use of her kayak. Out of the clear blue she simply said, “Go for it.” That was all I needed—I rose early, the sun still finding its way. I sat in the kayak, it held me like a womb, and I pushed off. Out I went, paddling with all my might, further and further from shore, I finally STOPPED…I cried out, “I AM HERE—where are YOU?” Silently, the little kayak began rocking back and forth, back and forth and SHE sprayed me with a mist of sea water and seemed to say, “I’ve waited for you my child—I’ve been waiting all ALONG.” I saw before me a feminine face and my heart strings tugged and pulled and said, “Don’t GO. Don’t make me go back.” I did not understand what happened. All I thought I understood began to CHANGE…my life NEVER could go back…and still it WAS the same.
Many of the women I met were changed by this Feminine FACE and , I believe, our bond was/is the face of God that we see in one another.
I inherited a unique name from these, my Soul Sisters…it was/is affectionately ‘The Plumber.’ A group of us decided that every Monday at 9 a.m.—wherever we were, whatever we were doing we would pause MINDFUL of our connection and breathe a prayer into the Universe. I decided to post a thought or poem on those Mondays—to be used or not used. I could NEVER foresee what has unfolded. Gradually, I extended the Monday messages to the Soul Brothers in my life AND others looking for ‘COMMUNITY.’ I was encouraged to place my reflections and photography into the weekly missives which I post on THURSDAYS. Reaching out to others has moved my life. The number of recipients has expanded, and others are playing it forward. The blessings I receive are endless. What others share with me, and not share, has become a spring of life flowing waters. At the end of each week, I collect NO check. But the payment I receive—NO treasure chest could hold—
In gratitude for you, Soul Sisters & Brothers.
The MOST fitting words tucked in my journal this day:
“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”