There’s a man we have been walking with for quite some time now on the Camino. We’ve seen him on and off in different towns. Most notably about him: his very short shorts. Also, his propensity toward close talking is a little off-putting. Sadly, we often tried to avoid him.
But last night, as we checked into our casa, we noted he was staying in the same place. I turned to Marci and said, “there is a lesson here for us.” Sure enough, in the morning, he invited us to sit with him for breakfast. As we ate our tostadas and sipped our cafe con leche, he was so incredibly warm and gracious. In our best Spanish (he’s from Argentina), we learned that he has 4 children, he’s still in love with his wife of 35 years, he did the Camino 15 years ago by bike and that he loves being a grandfather. He wanted to come back to walk the Camino instead of riding. He wanted to form friendships, and slow down. What a cool guy. My first impression was way off.
Then we asked him, why did he want to do the Camino in the first place? What did he want to express? And he answered in crystal clear English, with hands raised in the air, “Thank you for my life.” We’ve asked a lot of people this question. But that was the most beautiful answer we had received.
Later, Marci and I walked into the square at the Santiago Cathedral. Thousands upon thousands of pilgrims have done the same over thousands of years. The far off sight of the spires of the cathedral are truly awe inspiring. I can only imagine how early pilgrims must have felt, not having benefited from frequent hostels, direction arrows and oh yeah-food.
We attended Pilgrim’s mass at the cathedral at noon, surrounded by hundreds of other emotional pilgrims. During the mass, multiple men pull down a large urn of incense called botofumeiro and swing it high into the belly of the cathedral. All pilgrims know and savor the moment. You are never guaranteed that it will happen when you arrive. It’s a special and frequently unscheduled occurrence.
Feeling raw emotionally, I stood in line for communion. I haven’t received communion in a long time but I wanted to for my mom and dad. As other pilgrims took their turn in front of me, I heard my father’s voice. Mind you, I haven’t heard it in 25 years. But there it was. He said, “You’re welcome.”
At first I didn’t understand. Then I remembered my Argentinian friends words. “Thank you for my life.” I was completely overwhelmed and almost couldn’t step forward. It was my Camino moment. It became so clear to me.
I have come here to say thank you.
For my life.
My mother and father gave me life. My husband and I have given life to two beautiful girls. And I have given myself the fortunate life I lead.
Going forward, I’d like to live my life in the form of the best thank thank you card I ever got. With sincerity, grace, positivity and creativity.
I can’t really express the incredible whirlwind of poignant emotions I’ve felt today.
What are you thankful for?
How will you write the thank you card for your life?