June 9, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 31.8 km -
The morning started with saying goodbye to another friend. Yavidan will catch a train later today. The five of us who remain walked out of the city and on to the Meseta (plateau).
For the first two hours I walked along with Franziska. She has spent the last three years living in Korea and will take the next year to travel. She works as a nurse in between trips to provide for herself. Our conversation led us into a long discussion on how you balance desires which compete for time and resources like travel, starting a family, and continuing education. I made a game of it and had her place a monetary value, from a limited pool of cash on each item. It was harder than you think it might be, but did seem to bring some clarity.
Eventually, she asked what I did for a living. I generally don't tell people on the Camino I spent most of my adult life as a pastor, unless they ask. The title tends to invite them to put me in a box that has been shaped by their prior experiences with the clergy and church. Sometimes this is a benefit, often it is not, so I would rather let them get to know who I am before I let them in on what I do. He told her and then he was able to share why he chose to follow Christ. By then, they usually have their sense of who I really am has developed enough that when they find out I am a pastor, they are able to keep from putting me in a box.
The space also allows for me to get to know who they really are, without them feeling as if they have to present themselves a certain way because of my vocation. By the time they discover what I do, it is too late, and hopefully they have felt love and accepted enough that the can just be themselves.
This was what I experienced with Franziska, and it made the time and kilometers fly by. Add a sky which stretched out as far as you could see. He said standing and watching the waves of grain as the wind swept through the fields were absolutely beautiful.
We reached Hornillos, our planned stopping point by late morning. It took about 30 minutes before we all trickled into the village. We rested for a short time and then decided to go on to Hontanas. It was only another 11 km further. We figured it would only be about another 2 to 2 1/2 hours at our pace. It seemed like a really good idea at the time.
For most of the day, the sky stretched out as far as you could see and the fields of grain danced in the wind. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
Ki was right to throw his hands up. Though the extra distance did not seem like much when we began. It turned out to be the longest 11 kilometers of the Camino. It felt as if no mater how fast we walked, we were going slower. The fact that the village is hidden a valley and you cannot see it from a distance made it seem as if we would never reach our destination.
The saving grace was the wonderful conversations Ki and I shared as we walked. While our bodies were tired and our feet sore, our spirits were lifted by the company. Often, the strength to endure the hard days came from the people with whom you were walking.
Ki and Junyoung made us omurice for dinner. It consists of fried rice, an omelet and ketchup. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when they told us what they were going to cook, but I soon discovered it was delicious. The table was located in the kitchen, which we had to share with the Albergue Hospitalero (hosts) who were cooking the pilgrim’s meal for the Hostel. It made for a bit of bumping into one another, but once all the cooking was complete we shared a wonderful meal.
After dinner, back in the albergue, when we were about to turn the lights out for the night, Karen came walking through the door. It is a long story how she got there (which involves no room Hornillos and in a ride in a police car). We did not care how she got there, we were just grateful to be reunited with our friend. She had much to share about what had taken place since the last time we saw her. It was so good to see her, hear her stories, and realize you never really say goodbye to someone on the Camino, because there is a good chanch they will show up unexpectedly in the future. I was thanking God for such serendipity when they finally turned out the light.