Day 10: Blessing
Day 10 - July 9, 2015
Villamayor de Monjardin - Viana
Worst part of the day: Getting blisters
Best part of the day: Mass and pilgrim blessing
Today, we get out of bed while it is still dark, and quietly make our way down the stone stairway, where many other pilgrims are also already up, silently and stiffly tugging on their boots, sliding into their packs, and grabbing their poles. At first, there is not much more than the rhythmic crunching of feet on gravel, but as the sun rises, so do the conversations.
The morning is peaceful, cool, and pleasant. Walking with D, we meet the photographer who had been at our albergue, and is waiting on the path to get shots of the early morning pilgrims. As the morning continues, I fall back to enjoy a bit of time walking alone and praying.
At breakfast in Luquin, I meet Laura, who is from San Sebastian but is living in England. As we continue on the way, I am able to practice my Spanish for our whole conversation as we get to know each other and share stories from our caminos so far.
After breakfast, the heat and the length of the walk, piled onto the 9 days that have already passed, begins to get to me. My feet are sore and starting to blister. This was the first moment I experienced the “deception of the way.” What I mean by this is - there is a point as I head toward each destination at which I can see the town in the distance. I am filled with a burst of energy and hope as I will my exhausted body and failing feet and knees to carry be for just a little while longer - 30 minutes, an hour at most. But the town is farther away than it seems, and my body is more tired than I think - and the combination of distance and moving more slowly than I did in the morning extends that hopeful last stretch into eternity.
On arriving, late in the day in Viana, we head straight to the parochial albergue. We are greeted with a seat, some cookies, and tea, and regretfully informed that the last beds have been filled. We spend some time talking to the volunteers before getting up again and walking down the cobblestone street to the municipal albergue, overlooking the ruins of a church. Here, I am happy to see that Edith and Helga are in bunks near me, and after a nap and a shower, we go back to the church at the center of town for the pilgrim Mass and blessing.
After the Mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stay for a blessing. Walking around our little circle, he personally introduces himself to each of us, blesses us each with holy water, and then comes around a second time, laying hands on our heads, and repeating the words “Buen Camino, Ultreia.” The weight of the last week, and the relief of the blessing, brought tears of consolation.
Before dinner, I visit another ministry of Oasis Trails - Pilgrim’s Oasis, a tea house and lounge for pilgrims. Terry and Lauren, volunteers from California, have been working in Spain for nearly 20 years now, and we talk about the need for volunteers at Pilgrim’s Oasis and pray for each other.
The day ends as most do - at a table with a group of pilgrims on a side street, with a beer and hearty pilgrim’s meal, breaking free from the conversations only to collapse into the bunks for what little rest we can allow our bodies before doing this all over again.