LEON to VILLADANGOS del PARMO
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time…” ~~~T. S. Eliot
Leaving the City Behind…
The lights of the Cathedral were visible as I looked back… (I didn’t turn to STONE).
I pressed forward, tired. Something about the BIG Cities…I don’t sleep.
It is easy to get sucked into the whirlwind pace—the lure of shops—‘come and buy, come and buy.’ Already, I’ve given away items from my pack that I did NOT need and what I have is still more than enough…BUT, to put SOME-THING into my carry bag means EXTRA-weight on my back. Restaurants, bars, EVERYTHING one seeks is readily available, and if one doesn’t like something, next door—another shop.
Hosts are different in the cities. To them you’re a customer. You place your order, pay the bill, sit a moment. Workers cannot ‘chat.’ Business is paramount.
Cars are speeding along…a taxi on every corner offers the pilgrim a lift. One has to be mindful when crossing the road. TRAFFIC does NOT stop.
MY mind is spinning. There is the constant need to rush, to hurry, to get there.
My being understands this ‘pace’—unfortunately. Yet, I’m fortunate enough to recognize it
(at least in this moment) and allow myself space to BREATHE.
Before I know it, I’m walking ALONE. There is no one in front of me AND the city is lost behind me as the sun takes the stage. I hear NOTHING and it is beautiful—my feet begin to dance to ‘silence’s’ BEAT (blisters and all). The birds join in. I can hear the ruffling of their feathers as they shake off the morning’s dew. I attempt to do the same as my feathered friends—oops, I step into a mud puddle…my soft tan pants NOW a bright crimson. And, I laugh aloud.
I’ve come to a small pilgrim village. Outside, I spot elders sweeping their mud walkways. A lovely Crone is cleaning her windows and at the balcony’s ledge she has fresh cookies. She ‘sees’ me and, with a grandmother’s love, echoes “Buen Camino” again and again.
Por favor…have a cookie (NO CHARGE). She smiles with delight AND, in the MOMENT, it is the very best COOKIE in the whole wide world. Women, yes women, seem to know what the pilgrims need to make it to the NEXT mile. Somehow these gentle women are visible at the right time.
The other day when I arrived in Mansilla de Las Mulas, I spotted a beautiful aged woman with glorious white flowing hair gazing out her window. I was ‘looking’ for a marker AND from behind the glass window, “SHE POINTED”—SHE knew AND then SHE blew me a kiss. I felt it and I still feel it lingering on my cheek. I’m out of the city—the welcome is back.
“We have been WAITING for you.”