Not everyday can be a 23 mile day

“Time is the measure of actual sound as well as of the opposite, its omission.” ~Franco of Cologne

When my friend Pat and I walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across northern Spain, we learned to live out a rhythm that blended each person’s needs, our joint goals, and, always, the unforeseen, unexpected changes and challenges in weather and landscape.

One fabulous June day, everything was in perfect sync. The weather was cool, sunny, full of shade through glorious 1,000-year-old forests. We were high on walking, singing, skipping, imagining St. Francis of Assisi walking through the woods and talking to the huge trees that longed to embrace us. There was a moment when we stopped to decide whether to stop for the day, but we felt so good, so excited, so full of energy, that we whole-heartedly agreed to just keep going. We walked and sang our way through23 miles that day, arriving at Portomarín, a stunning town surrounded by water, high on a hill, with a Romanesque church in the middle of the square named after St. Nicolás that looked like both a church and a castle. Even after 8 p.m. Mass that evening, we sat up and laughed over a bottle of local wine, too wired to sleep.

The next day, however, was a different story. Walking 23 miles in one day is not an unthinkable task, but it can be an extremely difficult challenge when one has to get up the next morning at 5:30 a.m. and do it all over again! As we left our fairytale town on a hill, it was obvious from the get go that we were exhausted in body, mind, and spirit, too tired to even talk to each other.

I don’t remember exactly how many miles we managed to walk that next day, but I do remember vividly how out of harmony we felt with ourselves and with each other.

Yesterday, as I slowly canvassed the sand on North Padre Island for shells, I was reminded of that amazing 23-mile perfect day. Michael and I are on the coast this week, both feeling the urgent need to just be, sit, listen to the waves–and not accomplish anything in particular. 

by “coincidence,” I found an extensive collection of 
scallop shells, the symbol of the Camino!

As I wrote recentlywe’ve had an unusual, amazing, beautiful, one-of-a-kind high number of blessed events in our family in the past half a year. Like that glorious day in the woods, I have sung, danced, celebrated, cried with joy, and thanked God profusely for these new blessings in our lives.

In musical terms, a “rest” is an interval of silence in a piece of music that usually highlights the notes, the moment in time, that comes before, or after it. A rest is marked by a symbol that gives it a particular note value, indicating the length of the pause.

What I realized yesterday as I sat on the edge of the ocean listening to the vastness before me, is that I’m in a long rest, a four-measure rest–a silence four-times the duration of a whole rest.

I’m experiencing that next day, the day after the 23 miles, when Pat and I were keenly reminded by our bodies, minds, and hearts, that in the Camino, as in life, we can’t experience a full symphony every day. 

Copyright 2013 María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda

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