I love the fact that people celebrate the day you were born, and that they are happy you are part of their lives. I felt so loved on Saturday and it was overwhelming to see how many people are actually reading my blogs and posts. Thank you!
The day began striding out in the fog, listening to the morning wake up call of the roosters, and the forest coming alive with sparrows, cuckoos and the occasional woodpecker. My steps have become a familiar rhythm and I’m loving the happy feet in their new shoes. I look a picture and feel like a clown in them, but who cares. I am my own fashion statement.
This day was my favourite on the Ingles Camino. It was mostly through forests on country laneways , with the distinct Celtic atmosphere of Galicia. Large oak trees covered the path with shade and shelter. The rock fences were blanketed by light green lichen and the forest was carpeted with bracken like a shag pile carpet. The distinct sweet smell of cow dung hung heavily in the air and there was also the scent of home with the damp gum leaves from the previous night’s nights rainfall. I almost skipped along as I sang out loud and talked to myself all morning. What a beautiful and peaceful way to spend a birthday!
Now, those that have read my book or been to one of my presentations, know of the experience I had on the Camino Frances with ‘ thin spaces.’ I’m going to take a risk here and tell you what happened to me this time.
I was happily wandering along when I came to a bit of a steep descent. The oak trees were large and their branches hung over the path forming a tunnel. I hesitated just for a minute for some reason and on entering, I felt it again….silence. This time, I heard voices and I turned to see who was behind me but there was nobody there. All of a sudden, I felt overwhelming, unbearable grief enveloping me and as I once again yelled at my husband who died 14 years ago. The faces of my parents and favourite aunty, friends who died too young, flashed before me and then there were the unfortunate faces of patients I had liked but who had not survived their fight with cancer. I cried so hard that I could barely breathe and once again, my scarf became sodden with tears and snot. I haven’t cried like that for such a long time and it was so unexpected and sudden. I thought I had dealt with the grief of my past. I’ve certainly had my fair share of it, but this was intense and it came from nowhere!
The forest spat me out the other side, into a wide open space, and just like someone shutting a door, it was over. No tears, no grief and no heaviness! It was as if nothing had happened. (was going to take a photo of it but something was repelling me.)
I walked on for the rest of the day, trying to process what had just occurred and put it in the back of my mind when I got to the albergue.
It was to be my last night on the Camino Ingles and there was a very friendly bunch of people collecting in the common room. I casually mentioned in a conversation with someone that it was my birthday and before I knew it, the party was in full swing. We had such a rip roaring night and I ended up having one of the best and most memorable birthdays ever.
BUT….and here it comes…. a lady the same age as me, whispered :
‘I have to tell someone what happened to me today’
And she described EXACTLY the same experience that I’d had that day in the tree tunnel! She had the same story as me! I was gob smacked.
We sat there just looking at each other in shock. This validated everything, yet it sounded just too weird. I hesitated about writing this blog and it is now days later, but I’ve been trying to process it. I had visited another thin space and it was not just in my imagination. Those that know me well and know what happened to me on the Camino Frances, will just smile at this but those who are new to my blog will be totally sceptical. However it did really happen, and when I reached Santiago and related the story to a friend who lives there, he just nodded and asked if it happened in the tree tunnel! So it seems I’m not the only one to have these experiences.
Galicia is a beautiful and mystical place. I have now been there several times and each time I love it more. It has grabbed my heart and is pulling me so strongly back each time. It’s people are so kind and caring. They don’t travel far because they already live in bliss. When you really get to know Galicia, you realize why it is so special, why pilgrims have been drawn there for so long. It is a thin space!