Stage 2: Roncesvalles to Larrasoaña
Official: 27.2 km // iPhone Step Count 29.32 km
I have been conscious of not repeating my first Camino experience, so the weather decided to give us a thunderstorm.
Rising before the sun, we trudged through puddle soaked trails with flashes of lightening illuminating the path. Atop the trees canopy, birds beaconed for their mates and the rising sun to warm them. Beneath the dense forest and leaves, the harsh rain dripped heavy drops upon every inch of our packs and jackets. The cold wind chilled joints and rustled leaves; shaking even more water upon the people below. As the path winded one way and another, we crossed over, and sometimes through, flooded creaks and along overflown streams. Each step a new opportunity to get wet.
Snaking up and down the foothills of the Pyrenees the ancient yellow arrows are drowned in the ankle deep water. Like the yellow arrow wishing for life above the water, I too needed to pause, breath in the cool moist air, assess my surroundings, and hope I was headed along the correctly flooded path.
As the path took a final climb, I struggled for footing against the rushing downhill current. This image, of moving against the current, is the most emblematic of the a pilgrimage.
Our culture suggests that we should persistently move forward at a fast pace. Going constantly at a high stakes capitalistic speed. Go to school. Get a job. Get married. Have a family. Die. Chasing the next goal without pause to question our own personal and societal dreams.
This rushing stream of life so often feels like a force pushing against you, begging you to follow its cultish ways. The Camino de Santiago asks you, if only for a brief walk, to stand against the rushing current and slow down.
From the distance of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port to our destination in Santiago, we could easily travel that distance in a quick 8 hour drive. Yet, we are walking. What has taken us two days on foot could easily have been concurred in barely an hour in a car. Yet, we are walking. In a car, we would have missed the sweet smelling flowers the awoke with the morning sun. Or the mooing cows that greeted their farmhands.
The slow-steadied pace of the Camino allows life to enter more fully into fruition. On a thunderstorm rainy day that would otherwise beg you to stay inside and binge watch Netflix, the Camino suggests the opposite. Rather than allowing this day to waste away at another rewatched season of The Office, the Camino harkens back to your childhood and invites you to come outside and play.
A day that began, as a constant drab, fearful or the darkened clouds transformed eventually into a joy-filled day to splash in the puddles.
Any other day I would have avoided the rain, but today I danced in it.
How often are we allowed to dance in the rain?
How often are we allowed to transform our fears into joys?
These same questions are not just for me, but for my faith, my community and one another.
We all need to allow ourselves to grace to slow down, walk against the advise of the current, and stand in our joyful footing. We all need to stand beneath the dark clouds of our fear and invite the slow rain to wash away our anxiety. We all need to reintroduce ourselves to our childhood pleasures, and dance in the rain.