"It is a magical path, and it is true that it will carry you. I found it so, millions have found it so. Yet home again I can only manage to walk from Glastonbury to Street, just as before, about 3 miles. I wonder if the Camino is not the ultimate gift we can give to ourselves, our sorrows, meaning that we can clear bucket loads of karma just in the process of walking. Exactly as the monks of old knew - solvitur ambulando, it is solved by walking."
The stories of many pilgrims touched me along the Way. I was slow, took time to sit on park benches, have one of those faces that people talk to - even on a bad day when Karel braved my low blood sugar scowl. His story is memorable, I played an infinitesimal part in it. Our Lady of Finisterre came to me from a Dutch woman in Glastonbury, a walker, the day before I left - a day poignant with meaning for Karel. His codicil of Camino miracles are here:
Dear Zoé,The Camino has shaken me and still does. It is a good thing, valuable but not easy and it takes time to (re)settle, reshuffle and stableise myself. Writing/making the book is paused. It will take the right time to do it as well as much time, so hereby I tell you what happened in Finisterre.After we met, on the Camino, just before walking into a village called Ledigos there were stone-formations on the ground. You probably have also seen them.
The first one was a heart, another one - on the left side - said: MIS JE LINDA (Miss you Linda). Linda, the name of my beloved daughter who died in the air crash. It was there… I did not put it there. In fact somebody else pointed out/directed me to read it. But how is this possible? Who put it there??? Goose-skin feeling…The next formation of stones, a few meters further was of a smiley. For me the first 'sign’, confirmation, that God gave to me, when I was still training in Holland, to go on the Camino, was a yellow rubber doll/fellow of 10 cm that I found on my path, with the text on the body "Smile, God Loves You. "
At Cabo Fisterra more miracles took place. I took two candles (for Linda and Jeffrey) with me, the medallion you gave me and the small stone heart I had with me (given to me on Memorial Day by Pien, the best girlfriend of Linda). I was looking for a place to put it all down, which should be a place without too much wind so that the candles would stay burning. Then I saw a white cross 1,50 high/1,20 meter wide. At the back of this cross there was a space/shrine. I had to reshuffle some of the things people had put at the feet of the statue in order to have space for the two candles, the medallion and the stone heart.
After I finished I went to my pilgrim/friends and we burned cloths and threw a stone in the sea. Then I suggested to them to have a look at the shrine. We stood there, I explained what I had done at the cross and why. Somebody wondered whether it was a statue was of Santiago or of the first pilgrim. We then looked not only at the feet, but at the whole statue.
Somebody noticed there was 'something' lying on the head/hat of Santiago. I took it in my hands and it was… an identical heart in material, shape, colour and size as the one Pien had given to me….!!! It was partly blackish, because of smoke of burning of cloth and… a pilgrim-friend said… "there is picture of an angel in the blackish smoke tint". Everybody was silent… awe… no words.
Then we went to the light tower/restaurant to let this special moment settle down. Standing on the rock of Cabo Fisterra, looking at the sea, I was hoping to see dolphins.
In Johannesburg Linda was picked out of an audience at a dolphin-show and a picture of her and the dolphin was made by a fellow traveller from her group, when she sat on her knees and kissed the dolphin. We never knew that this special moment took place until months after the crash, when films and the sd-cards in camera’s were recovered. As such I associate dolphins with Linda and Jeffrey.
Imagine my emotion/feeling when we walked towards the light tower and saw two statues of… dolphins. Somebody told me that I would 'see' Linda on the Camino, my wife and Pien said she will be with you. At Cabo Fisterra I embraced and hugged 'Linda’.
Please see the various pictures. Look forward to hearing from you.
Warm pilgrim greetings,Karel.
Karel is right about the stone message and Linda's name, I saw it too but it made no connection for me then.
Ela and Christina in Canada stay in touch, I am sure we will meet again. I emailed Cindy some months after my return, her reply more than made my day:
How good to hear from you, Zoé...I was actually thinking about you today while I drove back from the mountains where I have been visiting an old friend.I, too, have struggled somewhat to pick up my old life. I have been simplifying my house and enjoying my own company but also missing the people I shared the camino with...it is really impossible to explain its impact to anyone who hasn't walked it.
I walked from Finisterre to Muxia and then taxied back (with my friends) to Santiago to catch my flight home. As a wonderful cosmic gift, Iberia Airlines had a bit of a problem sorting out my ticket and, though I was very mellow about the whole thing, they upgraded my Madrid to Chicago flight so I flew business class...what an amazing gift to my weary body.My feet are not completely well...my heels are still slightly sore when I walk but my tendon feels nearly normal and I don't limp any more. The mechanics of walking have come back to me. I've worked with a fabulous chiropractor who works with soft tissue (muscle, tendons, and ligaments) rather than bones and joints and it has been fabulous. I am dreaming of walking the camino again when I'm not limping...maybe next fall if I have nothing else planned.blessings,Cindy.
The priest whom I asked to email my parish did just that - after many months his email was resurrected and I was able then write to thank him, though not expecting he would recall our brief encounter. He replied, sending me a pilgrims prayer, saying he remember me "perfectly", wished me many blessings ...
I drove over to Shalford to visit dearest friends and met up with the lovely Patricia whose synchronistic appearance as a hospitalero rescued Vanessa and I as we fell dying from the taxi at Bercianos; she was imminently leaving for Australia, California and other new worlds with David ...
Vanessa's zany emails sing with happiness: the life for the living in this little neck of the woods is wonderful. Tomorrow we head up to exquisite Byron bay for two and a half weeks to be with our daughter expecting the arrival of her baby daughter any time now! Life is intense and full with honed down focus to the things that matter.
John's response to one of mine, while I was struggling to make sense of being back home to my small life in Glastonbury, and while Vanessa was incommunicado reassembling body mind and spirit, was: would you like me to send you a box of gum leaves? The harmony in which those two Lovelies live proves such a thing as The Perfect Match.Lauren Raine, dearest woman, brilliant artist, created a blog from my email essays - her own page is on Wikipedia. She said she would like to walk the Camino one day and told me to add my response to her here, as a kind of summing up:
It is a magical path, and it is true that it will carry you. I found it so, millions have found it so. Yet home again I can only manage to walk from Glastonbury to Street, just as before, about 3 miles. I wonder if the Camino is not the ultimate gift we can give to ourselves, our sorrows, meaning that we can clear bucket loads of karma just in the process of walking. Exactly as the monks of old knew - solvitur ambulando, it is solved by walking.
Sorrows don't automatically dissolve; Christine still grieves her loss, nothing she once loved to do brings solace, neither her gardening nor her passion for quilting. For her, life will return slowly. Grief is a substance that has weight; our language has not forgotten the truth, we speak of a heavy heart, of being weighed down with grief. The substance of grief cannot be dissolved by distractions; it will leave and it will take its allotted time to do so. The mystics tell us two years ... Meanwhile we support our friendship. Ann who told me I had beautiful feet, and on one of my worst days told me I was beautiful too, went back to Santiago to finish her walk to Finisterre ... Perhaps I will do the same.
Thank you all for walking with me, I will continue to add to Zoé's Camino Blog (www.zoescamino.blogspot.com) with stories of my other pilgrimages as my mood dictates: Montserrat and La Moraneta, my Aboriginal Walkabout with Caroline: Two Middle-Aged Women on Walkabout, and my stories of the Old Silk Road. I shall leave all these for you to find through Lauren's blog. Who knows, maybe I will brave a blog myself and then ...
Love and bright blessings to you all, dear Lovelies, and thank you for being with me!
Once again my heartfelt thanks go to 1000mile socks, NOK and Macabi Skirts!