As I am preparing to walk the Via de la Plata this spring, the Camino is working its magic for me already. My friend and I walked the Camino Frances in spring of 2008, and one of our most memorable stays was at the 300 year old house associated with St. Francis of Assisi in Tosantos. Two very wonderful men, Taqui and Jose Luis, were our kind and giving hosts. During our brief stay, we just felt secure, loved, vulnerable, open, embraced, and comfortable in a way that is hard to define. What a gift was given to us! From the fresh flowers on the tables to the communal cooking, the walk to see the church of our Lady carved into the hillside, to the prayers for those who had gone before us, it was just perfect.
Up to that point I had not been praying that much. But leaving the prayer for my son, Justin, opened the flood gates. I had been carrying the weight of his illness for a long time. For several days Tannis and I would just look at each other and say with a smile, “Look at the atmosphere those 2 men created!”
You meet these incredible people on the Camino who change or touch your life. You think, “How sad that I will never see them again and be able to tell them the profound impact that they made on my life.” The Hospitaleros (volunteer hosts) give so freely of themselves, never knowing if those pearls of kindness that they cast out ever take hold. As in our “real lives”, we all just keep on trying.
My journey in 2008 resulted in writing a book which incorporated the drawings that I did each day. I wanted to share that imagery with fellow Pilgrims, and perhaps inspire others, who might otherwise doubt themselves, to walk the Camino. Recently I got an email from a woman who had bought my book and was inquiring about purchasing the original drawing of the house at Tosantos. A flurry of emails later, it happened that not only does she know Taqui and Jose Luis very well, but Taqui was visiting her here in the Seattle area. They came to my home, and I got to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Can you imagine, I not only got to see him, but in my own living room half a world away. Who says miracles don’t happen here and now? I am so grateful to be able to tell Taqui that he made a difference in my life, and I am pretty sure the lives of many other Pilgrims. The work they do is so important, and it is strengthening the global community in such a hopeful and peaceful way. I look forward with great anticipation to the day I will be a Hospitalera myself, and in some small way contribute to the energy and spirit of the Camino.
- Breaking: El Camino Real High School On Lockdown (laist.com)