June 26, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 22.4 km
Last night, just before we went to bed, Helen, who calls me papa from time to time, asked if she could massage and pray over my injured ankle. She and the others had walked nearly 12 hours to get to me and I knew she was very tired. I told her not to worry about it, but She insisted.
As she worked my ankle she would stop and simply wrap her hands around it. I knew in these moments she was praying most intently. As she finished, she kissed my ankle. I imagine what I was feeling was what Jesus must have felt when the women poured the perfume on his feet and wiped it with her hair. I felt humbled, loved and seen. As Helen handed back my tube of arnica cream, she smiled and said the massage is helpful, but the prayer is most effective. I hoped both worked.
With that we finished packing for the next morning and turned in. I told the four not to worry about starting early. I will be walking very slowly and they needed rest after their marathon day. We agreed I would leave before them, and they would catch up.
I was up by 5 am and massaged my ankle for a half hour. It felt sore. I then went through my normal sock routine (sock routines become a very important part of blister prevention), except this time I added a brace around the ankle. I paused to read several encouraging notes from people back at home who had sent me prayers and good wishes. These moved and encouraged my hart as I set out.
It was an overcast morning and the sun had not risen yet. There was a steep decent on the way out of town and I was walking funny because of my ankle. As I moved down the incline, my effort to minimize pressure on my ankle was causing me to compensate in a way that made my hip hurt. I thought, "If this is what the day would be like it was going to be a very Long and hard day."
To pull my mind into the present, and not think too much about the rest of the day, I began to simply pray in rhythm with my steps, "Lord I need you, with every step I need you." The hip pain disappeared and I walked on praying.
I had no idea how far or fast I was going. My normal pace is between 5 & 6 km per hour. Judging from the time and distance from known points on the map, I thought I must be doing 2 to 3 km per hour. It was half of my normal pace, but I was grateful to be walking.
I thought of all of the prayers back home, all the people who said they would pray here and of Helen's prayer the night before. I would have loved to have had a miraculous healing, instead I was walking in pain. I thought of Paul's prayer for the removal of his thorn in the flesh and God's answer, " my grace is sufficient for you." I thanked God for the grace to be walking.
I was not carrying any water or food to save weight. Three hours in and I was getting thirsty. I was also thinking, surely the four would have caught to me by now.
Believe it or not, all day long, people would pas me and recognize I was struggling and give me encouragement. A little while later as they took a break, I would pass them back and they would smile with a look that said, I cannot believe he is passing us. This gave me a little bit of joy.
By the fourth hour, I came to the 12 km mark, having just passed the 100 to Santiago marker. There was a bar and I stopped for a sandwich, coffee con leche and lots of water. It was 10 am and my friends had still not arrived. I rested and waited there for around 45 minutes, thinking surely they are just around the corner. There was no sign of them. of them. Knowing I still had 3 1/2 hours to go I started out.
No sooner than I left that little spot I had someone tap me on the shoulder. Helen and Amy had caught up and soon Rolando and Rachel were there as well. We walked at my slow pace the rest of the way together.
The company made this one of my favorite sections of the Camino.
As I walked, I reflected to Rachel that at my normal speed, I would have already arrived in Portomarin, but I would have sped passed the beauty we were now enjoying. My injury forced me to discover the slower pace I had tried to embrace when inviting Emilie disciple me on walking slower. Seeing it this way allowed me to accept this injury as a good.
It was a long hard day. My foot was swollen when I arrived, but all I could think about when climbing the steps into the town was that two days ago I was afraid I might not walk another kilometer.
Now, two days later, I had walked on of the most beautiful sections of the Camino. I have been walking with God, with people who demonstrated great care for me and with the knowledge there are a great many people who are praying back at home. I could not help but rejoice at these gifts of grace. His grace is indeed sufficient.
We spent the early evening hanging out on the steps of the church in the main square in Portomarin. Not long after this photo was taken, my friend Jeff, who had arrived around noon in Sarria, and immediately started walking showed up. I have been excited about introducing him to the people who have become family, and bringing him up to speed on what I have been discovering along the way.
Today, was a very good day!