Have you ever heard a really good story? Here you hear them every day. Multiple ones. We had dinner with our dear friend Mike. He leaves tomorrow to go home so we won’t see him again. It was a bittersweet goodbye over wine, steak and delicious greens.
Mike is somewhat of a legend here on our camino. He writes his own Facebook blog every day with his adventures and stories of miracles. Everyone knows him. We felt so happy to get to have dinner with him on his last night of the camino. It was a very special night spent laughing, crying and enjoying a lovely meal.
Now, Mike will tell you the last thing he is is a superstar. He’s very human like the rest of us. But we spent the evening sharing stories. Ones we have been a part of and ones we have heard about.
A sampling includes:
- The 81 year old whose shoes were two sizes two small who outpaces others half his age.
- The Russian who carries a rucksack weighing 22 kilos including a tent.
- The 77 year old grandmother walking with her 13 year old grandson.
- The dad who is walking with each of his 3 daughters in 3 separate segments.
- The family with a two year old and 5 week old baby.
- The man who tattooed a Camino shell on his hand to remind himself every day that he needed to walk it over his 70th birthday.
- The many who carry instruments, large and small, to inspire pilgrims on the way.
- The elderly Spanish couple who are spending their last years baking and providing food and a bathroom to pilgrims.
- The young volunteers from Virginia who offered “free hugs” and gave me a lifeline on a really bad day.
- The nuns who devote their lives to nurturing pilgrims through music and prayer.
- The woman who pushed her adult daughter in a wheelchair.
- The man who carried his wife’s pack on the front of his body and his own on his back.
- The many, many pilgrims who walk in silence, carrying tokens of loved ones.
I have to say a special thank you to our friend Mike. He always showed up when I needed him, distracting me from my sore knees and providing both a laugh and something to think about. I know I’ll always have a home here.
I have to tell you something else. When we were back in Burgos around kilometer 100, we went to a physical therapist. She gave me a great massage to my knee, gave me a knee support and some arnica and other therapies. She told me I needed to take a minimum of two days off. But she did something else. She told me that if I completed the Camino on my knee, it would be a “milagro” or miracle. She waved her finger at me, literally.
This absolutely crushed me at the time. I felt I had failed. I couldn’t write about it. I felt raw, like an open wound. When Marci and I went back to our auberge, we had to regroup. We decided to hell with it, we were gonna keep going.
The next day, we walked 19 miles.
I won’t say my knee hasn’t hurt since then. It has. But it has gotten slowly better. A good friend told me once that the body accepts what is and moves on. It’s true.
Sometimes you have to make a game time decision. At that moment, you have to decide what’s best for you in the face of what others think. You don’t know the future, but you feel it. I only know that I decided to walk anyway. But that’s like life isn’t it? I have seen things. Incredible things, things that you can’t imagine were possible. I have gone beyond my own expectations. I have forged past my limitations. I know that’s in me now.
It’s in you, too. I guarantee it.
What is possible?
What is your miracle? What can be?
Update…We found out late last night that our friend Jaime died. I won’t say she lost her battle with cancer because that would imply she didn’t fight hard enough, and she was an absolute warrior. Jaime was an early and ardent supporter of this journey. She deeply wanted to do the Camino one day. It’s not lost on me that her journey on earth ended the same day as our journey to Santiago. I didn’t know her well enough to tell her story here, but she has one, a miraculous one, written now in the Book of Life.
Remember her today.