Camino de Santiago—Day 4
The Hill of Forgiveness/Alto del Perdon
For Whom the Bell Tolls—
Your being stirred me, Hemingway..
I heard the bells clanging outside my window—
“I HEARD”~~~Pamplona had its mystical moments for me as soon as I stood outside its cathedral— (that was yesterday eve). Today—all the temples.
Atop the Hill of Forgiveness, wouldn’t you know it—I found a donkey. He wasn’t real, but he did ‘whinny’ confirming the one who rode a mule this day—2,000 years ago…to the Holy City of Jerusalem. It stood atop this hill. The wind blew mightily ‘opening’ the gates to what now faced me—ME!
I’ve come to ‘forgive me’ on this little hill high up in reach of the clouds. I had come to forgive my ‘knee’—
It gave out some years ago ‘changing’ my entire world. My hopes, dreams, desires all thrown as if out a window.
I was a Peace Officer. I made it through the physical rigors, written exams, polygraph tests, oral boards, interview one, Chief interview. I became a Police Officer. Suddenly, injury took away my life’s dream.
The knee injury I sustained took away my ability to ‘run’— I used to run…it was my prayer as well as my escape. You can call prayer a bit of an escape, but it also let me work through ‘topsy-turvey’ life dramas…now the ability to run was taken—GONE!
For months my knee was in a permanent bend…I walked with crutches. My mind raced and I cried, “could I ever walk again?”
These were trying times…every fiber of my being stretching, breaking, until no elastic was left.
I was adrift at sea without paddles, but I learned, re-learned to use my hands. Now I was sketching portraits of persons. Unbeknownst to me, at first, they became ‘images’ of people from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Their faces emerged on my blank canvas. I sketched many faces of men and women who exemplified persons to me in this life…a new understanding, or an old understanding found a NEW way to be born.
This was Sandy—artist, writer…creator…sharer of story—AND I learned to walk. I had to retire because of my injury, but the time of rehabilitation allowed me moments of grace. I had to face me and say, “No—not anymore…this is WHO I AM.” I walk NOW in gratitude for this knee which carefully guards me, and it, with each descent and every ascending curve.
My knee speaks—“slow down, stop, look out a while” and my being honors the message. I never was ‘angry’ with the knee—I simply wanted/continue to want to play and the knee responds, “Don’t you ever stop…together we’ll always find a way.”
Many persons who traverse this Camino walk with injuries, serious diagnosis, grief and an abundance of ‘things’ weighted on their backs. Each day I walk becomes a little easier to make because I am able to forgive.
I have little with me. Yet, it is ALL I need. I’m mindful of all I do own and I shudder asking myself, “What for?” The ONLY ‘gift’ I want most in my pack is LOVE. I’m mindful of those back home ‘walking’ with me in spirit. I’m astonished and bathed in my own tears of being. I wish I were able to tell each person how he/she appeared in my mind when I looked out at something
as it showed up in that moment AND…
I knew it was she…a statue hidden in trees. I slowed down…I’m not certain why, but when I reached Her, I sat down. Her words to my heart…”You child, have beheld my Son…NOW, I behold you, my daughter. Go, bring love into the world. Care no longer what others think, feel or say because you embrace a feminine face of God. You embrace God in all things for God LIVES in you…Be NOT Afraid.”
The remainder of my walk put me outside/in front of one temple after another.
I stood facing each structure and whispered, “I’m a temple, too” …and as I passed each church, the bells rang.
There was only one church whose bell did not ring out, BUT the tiniest dog appeared as if out of nowhere, ‘barking’ in delight. When I finally arrived in Puente La Reina, I stepped into the church countless centuries old. ‘Inner’ stirrings began again and I was mindful of Hildegarde, Jullian, Mechtild…Holy Women who KNEW God. These women lived the message through their lives amidst grave injustices…still they LOVED. This day—I give thanks for those women and today’s women (EVERY WOMAN) who finds the courage to be who she is meant to be in the world, cutting all the cords binding her by contrived, manipulative tools holding women in ‘A PLACE.’ Our place is in all things beside our brothers, and this day as I write my last words and begin to sketch PUENTE LA REINA—renamed the Queen’s bridge—Dona Mayor commanded the Romanesque bridge be built to support safe movement for medieval pilgrims,