Lessons on the Camino

Today completes day four on the camino.  It is Saturday … ¨Sabado¨and we are in Melide, a small city with an industrial slant.  As we entered town, we passed through a section of manufacturering companies.  I found my seeing strangely and wonderfully altered as I abandoned an old addictive need to judge what I saw based on previous ideas about what I was taught to consider as ¨pretty¨ or  ¨ugly¨.  Such labels; ¨That is ugly, but that is nice …¨ – without these judgments, I was able to simply see everything around me as a dance of light and heavy energy. 

The thought occurred to me that our definition of beauty may be based on the degree of light and fluidity of the energy we are witnessing … the denser the energy, the harder it is to see it as beautiful- for example, a cluster of flowers touched by a gentle breeze are all fluid motion whereas the highway with cars appears to be dark and dense. Could it be that a lack of density is what determines the degree of beauty?

We stayed last night in an incredibly ¨light¨ place.  Lestedo is little more than a settlement of a few houses placed in the pure mountain air of Galacia.  We were guests in a private bed and breakfast that had once been a rectory. It is operated by a delightful family who speaks no English, well… except for Laio, the fourteen year old daughter who was able to communicate in English quite well.  This place was an architects dream.  It is open and spacious, simple yet elegant with exquisite stone work and shining wood inside and out-it has a ceramic tile roof and a fenced in, beautifully landscaped compound. The rectory sits atop of the mountain with a border of stately trees, surrounded by mountains and skyline.  Breathtaking!  

We arrived. bodies exhausted after twelve hours of walking, but found ourselves amply rejuvenated by the high frequency of our surroundings.  We recovered nicely after showers and clean clothes and being served an exquisite meal prepared fresh by our hosts.  At first it appeared that we had the whole place to ourselves … (later, other guests arrived)  We ate an early dinner by Spanish standards, anyway…  eating at eight (Spainards don't usually even get started with dinner plans until 9 pm or after.)   

It was as if we had stepped into a romantic dream — we were waited on as if we were royalty.  Anything we could conceive of wanting was provided.  Our meal consisted of ensalada mixta and pescado, (mixed salad and grilled fish) – so fresh it tasted like it had been just picked (or caught) and then served with a small glass of sweet wine and home-made peach yogurt for dessert.  Awesome!

The camino is a powerful illustration of how we each manifest our own reality.  I am seeing so clearly that the camino is individually tailored to each person walking it depending on their particular mentality.  Just like life, how the camino treats us – whether it be with harshness or ease is up to us.  As peregrinos (pilgrims) traveling the way we create our reality based on the quality of our own mentality.  For me, the camino is a healing retreat.  It is an opportunity to experience the incredible abundance of Universal flow.  For others I've met the last several days, it is a hard taskmaster.  We cannot have anything beyond what we believe is possible.  How we see life is exactly how we will experience the camino. 

I walk with the awe and wonder of someone who is loving the way life takes care of me.  Every single thing I need is brought almost as soon as the need is recognized.  Yesterday, walking along a long stretch of little more than farms and fields. I verbalized to Andrew that I was hungry for lunch.  In the very next moment we spotted a sign for a cafe with bocadillos and ensalada! (sandwiches and salads) Not only was there food at this little impeccably clean establishment, but it was wonderfully fresh and thoughtfully prepared fare.  Actually there has been nothing less than delicious food every single meal we've eaten since we arrived in Spain!

Today, walking out of a small village, I had the thought that my legs were sore, and then looked up to see a sign that read, ¨Shiatsu/Massaje¨!  Turns out that the couple running it met on the camino several years ago and decided to set up a business serving weary peregrinos.  This is the way of it when we can allow it to be so.  

When our minds are cluttered with stories that create resistance we look out and see a matching reality.  Instead I am seeing a magical world of dancing energy.  I am that and that which I see  is me – there is no difference. We see before us our own mentation densified into form.  This is the way of it. The camino is illustrating it plainly and I am filled with gratitude and awe.

I have met not one stranger … only my own many faces.  Even the language is no barrier.  I understand.  I am understood.  We smile and touch and exchange love through a gesture.  The flowers on the path offer their smiles in their own unique language too.  They too are kin.  An old woman with crinkly eyes of peace greets me with an offering of freshly picked raspberries ¨for the peregrinos¨.  I know my body must need them for they are being given so I accept them heartfully and give her one euros in return.  I snap her picture even though she bashfully, playfully protests.  We share laughter out loud when I show her the resulting portrait of ¨our¨ face … eyes shiny with the abundance that comes with a life lived simply.

The camino is a healing.  But it is only the mind that needs healing.  Nothing else is a problem, only thoughts are problamatic because they label. We create our world as we go – with our thoughts that label.  We see what we are told to expect. What we see is only there because we repetitively tell ourselves that it is.  Just try to look around without constantly describing to yourself what you see!  Experiment with letting go of knowing what you see.  Immediate magic is the result!  I walked into this ¨industrial¨ town with its highways and factories and cars and trees and wild flowers without those labels and what I experienced was multiforms of light and density — everything is alive and beautiful in its aliveness!  And it is constantly communicating its messages to us.  Just listen with the ears – and eyes! 

 Early this morning, I started seeing the messages sent.  The white duo of butterflies, spiraling through the air, showed me the pure dance of light energy.  When I was describing them to my son some hours later they reappeared in that very moment to demonstrate their aliveness for him too.  The loose skinned snake slithering across the path from left to right, from death to rebirth, brings us a message of transormation, of shedding an old skin for a new life.  The gateways everywhere … initiation and entry and new beginnings.  On and on, life communicates with us.  All that is needed is a willingness to witness and revel in the joy of it all. 

So tonight, just for contrast we find ourselves in a heavily trafficked hotel on a busy street in Melide.  I am sitting in the bar because that is where the internet connection can be found.  There is loud laughter and a bustling bar scene before me whenever I lift my eyes.  I love it.  Light – dark … there is no difference.  I am in joy … en joy in myself.  There is only one me and it happens to be everything I see.   

So we are all pilgrims on this camino to Santiago.  I have you in my backpack.  I am carrying you along – you are me.  Close your eyes and see the sights I see.  Can you feel the breezes of life as they rustle the leaves of your soul?  Say yes to the journey of the camino.  I am.

As we say when we pass one another here on the camino; one pilgrim to another, ¨Bon camino¨.  Translated, it means, ¨Happy Trails¨and yes, they are.

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