I was feeling pretty crap on day 15 – my throat hurt and I decided to end my day before 9am after walking 10k. I stopped for breakfast at a café and ordered an enormous chocolate croissant and I had two café con leche – there was no need to hurry. By the time I had finished, the café had cleared and when I got outside, I saw Kathy just standing up from her table, she was alone, everyone from outside had left too. As I passed her table I said to her ‘I don’t feel great today so I’ve decided to stay’ and she replied ‘So have I’, showing me her blistered feet.
I had met Kathy briefly before and as waited for our accommodation to be ready we sat outside on a bench in the early morning being completely open our lives, our experience of the camino and how we were feeling. I’m not sure I have ever made such an instant friend, I don’t think I have. I felt we were really meant to meet and I was awestruck at how serendipitous our encounter was. I was aware how easily I could have just walked by her saying ‘beun camino’. After we checked in we went our separate ways for the day and I hoped we would meet again.
It was in fact six days before we met again. We stayed in the same albergue in Leon, a beautiful City. I was outside sitting with some people when I spotted Kathy as she returned from hanging out her washing. I was delighted and we headed off for a drink. We spent the remainder of the day together and walked and talked for the next two days. I really felt this was an experience I was meant to have. I experienced Kathy as a real friend and particularly I felt she was bearing witness to my journey. That is an incredibly powerful experience – Kathy held the space really naturally as we walked, consciously following the footsteps of others and I expressed the depth of my internal journey. It is with the deepest gratitude that I recall this experience as I try to express it’s holiness – it was for me a most spiritual experience and perhaps the most spiritual phases of my whole camino. And it is perhaps with hindsight that the significance of our meeting becomes clear.
And then it was over, Kathy pushed on as she wanted to get to Santiago two days before my intended date. I felt so sad when she left, I knew I would miss her but I really, really missed her. That evening in Astorga I felt bereft, in a daze, so sad and so lost. Then the following day I honoured our encounter by carrying her in my heart as I walked and I reminded myself, ‘there is more’, there is always more.
It seemed easier to live from the place of ‘there is always more’ whilst on the camino because in a way that feels a certainty. Moving each day means that the comfort that is reached is internal and therefore there is less dependence on external familiarities and comforts. With that an acceptance emerged within me that relationships can be intense, purposeful and transient. And so it was easier to cherish the moments as people weaved in and out of my life.
Then much to my surprise I met Kathy again five days later. And whilst it was lovely to see her and catch up, I knew the moment we met that the purpose of our camino encounter had already been satisfied. As Kathy would say ‘another etapa’.
Love is accepting, love is flowing, love is allowing and love attracts more love.
And so, there is always more.