Sunday, 23 September 2012

Graces

The albergue at Villadangos del Paramo was everything you would want an albergue to be. Built in an old school it had a very tall ceiling and huge tall windows on two walls. It was clean and well maintained and had a very usable kitchen. Sitting around a table with peregrinos from four or five different countries we exchanged advice and wisdom and listened to why each of us was making this walk.

At about 7 this morning we set out in a warmish wind with a clear sky.

We walked for a few kilometres, through the towns of Villadangos, San Martin, and finally the wonderful Hospital de Orbigo.
The town is approached across an ancient bridge at least half a kilometre long and it is chock full of old buildings and curios all primped up for the sake of the tourist buses which call to disperse their cargoes and gather them up again scores of times a day. Not far from this gorgeous little town was its more plebeian twin, Villarejo de Orbiga, and it was here that we stopped for coffee to celebrate the end of the Meseta.

After our cafe con leche grande in a neat but practical little village square we at last, thankfully, took a winding path that led upwards to views and variation. No more flatness. No more path stretching white and straight to the horizon. Ahhhh... the bliss. We wound over rolling hills, descending into a couple of small river valleys, and about 1 pm after a walk of about 26 km reached Astorga. We found an albergue near the cathedral, San Javier, and settled in to our usual routine. The albergue is housed in a building which I would guess is 15th Century or older. The floors are hand sawn and the ones in our dormitorio have cracks an inch wide through which we can see the rooms below. There is a courtyard with a fig tree and a fountain for putting your feet in. It is utterly, utterly charming. A gift.

One of many gifts for the day, actually. A few days ago Wynston Cooper sent me this verse:

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says.

Exodus 23:20-21

Angel means "a messenger". Every day God sends us messengers to remind us of the goodness of the universe and of God´s plan for our lives. The messengers may, I guess, be great flaming beings with wings and swords, but usually they are not. Perhaps one day God sends a sparrow to perch on your cafe table and accept crumbs from your hand. Perhaps on another day a word of kindness from a stranger. Angels take a thousand forms, but whatever form it is, you know who they are because your spirit is lifted and your load lightened, even if only for a moment. Wynston´s verse has been fulfilled in spades because the Camino is chock full of angels, cheek by jowl, jostling for the space to bless you. Today a farmer harvesting his grapes gave some to us, sweet and full and juicy and cool in the dry hillside.
 All along the trail there are figs and grapes and apples growing wild.
In shady parts of the trail the blackberries grow thickly with small, sweet, plentiful fruit. Almost everyone we meet smiles and blesses us: ¨buen camino", "buen viaje", "ultreya". And around the middle of today, on the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere a suntanned hippie wearing nothing but a pair of shorts had set up a little stall. It had coffee and several different teas, and fruit and juices and a dozen types of milk.
All of it was free, to whoever wanted to take it. There was a small donation box set up discreetly in a corner but he never mentioned it and not a few people ignored it. I know that this kind of generosity never goes unrewarded and that what goes into the box will always  cover his costs, but you never can tell. We drank his coffee, ate his fruit, put his stamp in our pilgrim´s passports and put something in his little donation box. His example of  grace carried us across the last few miles of burnt hills, past the city wall and into this bustling, narrow streeted magnificent little medieval city.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds amazing, enjoy your well earned rest day. Love to you both, bev

NIE said...

And thank you, Kelvin, for these postings, inspiring us as we rise, allowing us to share precious moments of your days. Sounds like A-W-A-R-E-N-E-S-S is descending on you big-time! Rest well. Love to you both.

Elaine Dent said...

Ah yes, the hippie-angel's Camino version of what is called "Trail Magic" on the A.T. Thanks for reminding us of the angels. Rest well.

David Herbert said...

This sounds like a wonderful experience. Thank you for your reminder about the angels in their various guises.

THE FABULOUS ROOM 10 said...

It sounds like you are both having a wonderful time. We are all enjoying following your journey from Outram.
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Amber