Stage 25: O’Cebreiro to Samos
Official: 31.08km // iPhone Step Count: 34.7km
As we inch closer towards the end of the Camino, the crowds continue to swell. More and more pilgrims, we’ve not seen for the previous 600 kilometers, begin plopping along the trail.
In arrogance I ask, “Oh when are you coming from?” Assuming it’s a short distance, as she looks frail, she responds with the same town we arose from that same morning.
“Wow!” I say, “That’s great. I haven’t seen you along the way. Did you start there?”
“No, I started in St. Jean Pied de Port, but I had to take a few days rest because I got tendinitis.”
Humbled by her response, I realize I had judged her upon a quick glance. “That’s unfortunate, that happened to me last time,” ego reappearing to try and reveal my dominance thus losing genuine concern, “I know how painful that can be.”
Has the Camino taught me nothing? These days were supposed to be an opportunity to become my real self. So does that mean my “real self” is a egotistical judge? In a way, yes. In a way, no.
For 25 days I have walked with strangers who have quickly become friends. For weeks, we have seen each other daily. Our smiles and laughter are recognizable from great distances. While our names (at least for me) might fade, their stories and lives have entwined with my own.
Yet, the moment a new person enters the mix, we shutter with darting and questioning eyes.
Who is this person? Can we trust them? Has anyone seen them before?
Rather than accepting them, like we accepted one another, we can to question their motives and pains. We say, rather vocally, “Those are not REAL pilgrims.”
Pope Francis might say, “Who am I to judge?” I might respond, “Oh let me tell you all about, ‘Who you are!’”
What is it within our humanity, within our imperfection, to call out those who are “different?”
Why must we exclude others?
Who are we to judge?
In our inability to recognize the potential in others, we prevent them from possessing the ability to walk.
Like the story from the Acts of the Apostles, we walk right past the crippled beggar, outside the temple, without notice. It isn’t until Peter and John approach the man, and give him the humanity and respect he deserves that he is able to walk again.
On the Camino de Santiago, we are offered the same chance to walk like Peter and recognize the goodness of others and give them the confidence they need to take another step.
Or we can be like the church-goers who fail to see the crippled man, and continue to disrespect those who we do not think are worthy.
In truth, the Camino humbly reminds us that no one is worthy. Each person is struggling and failing through life and it takes the efforts of an entire community to give us the confidence we need to walk through life.
While we may judge and turmoil, it won’t be until we recognize that each person is worthy to walk this walk that we will finally give and receive the potential needed to take another step.
After writing this post, I was reminded of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, and a reflection I wrote on my first Camino. Rereading it was a humbling grace. May your reading be just as humbling: https://nicholsrobert.com/2016/07/08/day-27/