I’m sitting in a noisy common room, the fire in the stove is burning, the clothes are drying in racks because is has been so cold and clammy outside, there are fourteen if us speaking five languages.

Tobias and I masterminded a shared meal for the group, a vegetarian stew that grew out if the fresh and tinned veggies at the local shop, a donated head of broccoli, six bottles of wine, some chorizo on the side and lots of bread. Laura from the Netherlands spent three-quarters of an hour cooking chocolate pancakes. We have all contributed five Euro in total, Terry from Wisconsin has dashed back and forward to the shop for bits and pieces and to choose fresh herbs from the albergue garden. We crowded together in the kitchen, talking and chopping veggies while I cooked the stew. What a triumph, and how much fun to do.

I said to someone during the day that the walking is a challenge, finishing a joy,the afternoon a pleasure and the evening a joy. In three nights I have not wanted for company. It is only when the lights are down and I am alone in my sleeping bag that I miss the life I have left and Paula’s precious presence. This is life away from life because, as we say to each other, ‘your camino is your camino’. No one can tell you the rules, no one can tell you what will happen on the day, who you will meet. I have already given up making plans, even for breakfast. You walk out the door and stop when you feel like it. You look for yellow arrows and follow them in faith. You bless those who make the paths. You curse the hills, give thanks for the poles, sink into the landscape and lose yourself in the moment.

The motives for being here range from the shallow to the incredibly deep. I walk by myself but in the last two days mostly with Bianca, Maria, Tobias, Beth, Terry and Kristen. They are rich people, in that their motivation for working ranges from affirming friendship, to coming to terms with life challenges, to asserting femininity, to a desire to express a religious faith by serving others on the camino.

The road is always there. It is the least interesting and most important part of our individual endeavour and shared lives. Each day we are anxious to set out. Each hour some other part of the body hurts. In the end, meeting one’s needs in the moment are the most important thing unless another person needs you or your help. At the end of the day, when the encounter with the road is over, recovery is as much the interpersonal, spiritual encounter as it is the rest and sleep.

There Is A Candle In Your Heart
— Rumi

There is a candle in your heart,
ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?
You feel the separation
from the Beloved.
Invite Him to fill you up,
embrace the fire.
Remind those who tell you otherwise that
comes to you of its own accord,
and the yearning for it
cannot be learned in any school.