Well, the Jesus and Maria Albergue in Pamplona was not what I had hoped for; not being as well run and intelligently designed as the Albergue in Roncesvalles. But that’s Ok. I’m not here for service and high expectations. I can note the deficiencies without it dampening my spirit and purpose for being on the Camino.
Morning came at 5:00am for me. It seems I did not set my alarm correctly – thinking I was setting it for 6:00am, and perhaps I did – and yet once the alarm had sounded at 5:00am, I found myself thoroughly awake and ready to advance my pilgrimage. I had an anticipation of something that drove me forward. I dawdled about a bit so I could say goodbye to Allison and Kate, and then went for the door at 6:15am.
I came out onto an old city calle that was just finding its shadows in the dark, and proceeded down to the corner where I turned left for the Camino at the bottom of the street. As I turned left onto the Camino I soon realized I was in the company with a Spanish gentleman, dressed in tie shoes, slacks, a collared shirt and light sweater. He was well mannered, polite and talkative, but in a most sensitive way. It was as if he knew who I was.
And in so knowing me, he began a conversation, in Spanish, that was simply-constructed sentences, often repeated, and with few difficult nouns and verbs. I was a bit mystified by his serene presence and I found his presence compelling . I talked back, and we discussed Pamplona, his family and mine. He went on to inform me that each morning he walks this way through the old city along the “ancient way” to a small coffee shop on the edge of town. There he has his coffee, and then returns to his home. It is a tradition.
By the time I left him I sensed something much more to our meeting. Here was a man who simply appeared before me – in humble countenance – and proceeded to walk me through the tangled streets of Pamplona, along the ancient way of The Camino, and pointed to where I should go as we came to the edge of town. “Here is my coffee shop. Buen Camino.” he said, and then he basically disappeared. I walked on with a somewhat enchanted mind; pondering one of two possibilities. Either he was a guardian angel sent to walk me out of town, and to assure me that my walk would be a “Buen Camino.”, or he is a truly wonderful man, who wakes up every morning and times his walk to coincide with pilgrims who are leaving the old city Albergues (hostels) to find their way out of Pamplona and onto The Way of St. James. He escorts one or more each morning, and engages in conversation to the enjoyment of the pilgrim(s). He has his coffee and returns to his family. The next day he does it again. Does it make any difference which possibility is the reality?
I know that to encounter an angel would be a truly miraculous event; one that the blessed receiver of such an encounter would remember the rest of their days on earth. But, as Christ sees it, can any angel be of greater stature in God’s eyes than a man or woman who makes kindness unto others their virtue and life’s pursuit? I believe that my angel, human or not, was making a special point to me. He talked much of how he does this every morning. For him it is not a discipline, it is a way of life. It is not a task to guide a pilgrim onto his journey, it is his pleasure and obligation as a human being; to be an aid and comfort to others who are walking out that journey called life.
All I know is that I left Pamplona with a confidence that my journey has an unfathomable opportunity to do good in this world for others. All of our journeys are precious when used as Christ would have us use our lives.
Please give onto others today, tomorrow, and for every day to come. Who knows, you may be someone’s guardian angel.
Enjoy the pictures. I earned them today. The walk was difficult. The land was some of the most beautiful I have ever experienced.
God Bless and Buen Camino – Reese