In June 2017, I and a couple friends, walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It is a pilgrim path a thousand years old. We walked the last 100km. The road took us through ancient villages, past toothless Galician farmers, into yards turned into cafes. It was beauty and it was brutal.
A pilgrim….perragrina….takes everything in her backpack. There are fancy services that will take your packs to the next stop for you. But mostly, you carry it on your back. For a soft and fluffy middle aged woman, cinching that belly strap tight is an instantaneous engagement with ego. But you must strap in tight or the pack will rub raw the body of the pilgrim.
My pack became my best friend.
On one day, we had a long walk. We got distracted while walking through the ONLY town we would see that day and did not stop to pee or drink water. By the end of the day, I no longer had to pee because my body needed my own hydration.
I recall one stop. 2 fellow pilgrims came at us from the direction we were headed and said there was a rest stop just up ahead. Water. Hang in there, they said. I slung my pack back onto my body. I was hot and sweaty. But this time, when I cinched in, the pack conformed to my back. Like a hug.
Like a hug. I felt wrapped in purpose and ability. I walked, near the end of my physical rope. But then I kept finding more rope. The rest stop and water promised to us, was a far piece. But I arrived upright, still walking. I took my pack off and felt the lift, the lightness, and felt oddly off balance to be relieved of its presence. The next morning, It hugged me tight and off we went.
In these days, I’m not preparing for the pilgrimage again. I would like to do another portion, for sure. And likely will. But I find that I’ve got another source of that “hug” on my body. I just noticed it today. I’ve been wearing bracelets made from mini gems: lapis, jade, rose quartz and other things. Beautiful colors. I wear them everyday on my right wrist.
Today, it felt like a hug. Like an anchor. Like a still point that says, “We are here with you. You are centered. You are able.”
I know that this peace comes from within, and not from backpacks, bracelets or anything else. But it helps to have a symbol that reminds. Reminds me that I can do it. I can do this hard thing. And I am held while doing it.
Find your thing. A rock, a feather, a song, a dance. Embrace it and allow it to embrace you so that you can go the next step, discovering that you are still upright and walking.