I was delivered to my house mid-morning today. [This was written yesterday.] It is mid-evening and I still have not emptied my backpack.  I needed to be with people, preferably people who cared about what I had been doing.  I needed help starting the re-entry.  Some wonderful friends provided a ride late last night from the airport to their home, provided a bed for the night, a great breakfast out (eggs and salsa, bacon, toast, breakfast potatoes, toast and jelly) and an hour ride (one way) back to my house.  More even than that, they were willing to listen to my stories about the trip.

When I entered my empty house, I knew that more important than unpacking was human interaction, someone who would listen, who might understand and appreciate what I had experienced at Taizé and on the Camino.  I did not ask permission to use her name so I will only say she is one of the young people at my coffee shop who has a special interest in the Camino, someone who has a rare sensitivity and maturity for being so young.  She had texted me when I was in one of the airports on the way back wondering when I would be returning.  She was willing to listen to my stories. It helps me to be able to tell the stories since that is the way I process the feelings about the experiences and celebrate the people with whom I have had them. In the processing I make endless discoveries about the meaning of what has happened, the implications for the future.

I hope there are more opportunities for telling the stories even before I go through all 2000 pictures to select a few for showing how the places and the people looked.  While the time in my little hotel room in Barcelona was very lonely, I spent most of the afternoon one day at the Gaudi designed Cathedral, a basilica named Sagrada Família.  There is no way to describe it effectively.  The construction started in the late 1800’s and it will be many more years before it is done.  The scale of the building cannot be described in a way that does it justice.  The design appears Avant-garde even by today’s standards even though it was designed much more than a century ago.  I sat for at least an hour and a half on a bench in the park at the front of the cathedral just to be present with it.

That time brought with it a flood of thoughts about the way I experienced the Camino.  When I was walking the Camino, I was not just visiting the places along the way and the people I encountered.  I was present with them.  Since my house no longer feels like home to me (yes I still love my waterfall), I am free to be fully connected with the people and places wherever I am at the moment.  My world was the Taizé Community for the week I was there.  I was totally present with the place and the people on the Camino.  However long or short they were, the times with people who were receptive and willing to talk (most were) were genuine interactions in which we were fully engaged with one another. Core issues emerged quickly.

The Camino creates a world of its own, one in which Pilgrims live an entire lifetime in just weeks. After it is over comes the opportunity to step back from that lifetime and at a safe distance to look back at how it was lived. What needs to be let go and what is worth keeping.  For me that process has just begun.

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