“I have heard the mermaid singing,each to each
I do not think that they will sing to me”T.S.Eliot,The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
I may not hear the Mermaid singing, but I have heard the cuckoo many mornings this week as I have walked the Camino Madrid. The last week has been a mishmash of pine forests, flat, sandy paths, some hard bitumen underfoot, and a few joyful fiestas. Most memorably I have seen incredibly beautiful buildings and works of art in small unassuming villages. Also for short snapshot times, I have sat in small bars along the way drinking vinos, eating and talking in Spanish as much as I can. We have shared information about families, politics, council inadequacies, and Futbol (my nieto Noah, has been very useful here!). I have been privileged to share a little of others’ lives and culture.
Sometimes though it’s been just plain hard slog, often confusing. I have wondered :Why am I walking this Camino?
The partial answer is that I have heard things I cannot hear at home. There is just me, my partner and space. Because of the simplicity of the walking there is just us and the landscape, and a little bit of magic.
As we approach the end of the walk ,two nights from Sahagun, there are more people along the way. I am losing some of that magic.
Here in this Albergue at the moment there are eight of us: different nationalities and ages, a variety of reasons for being here.There is an incessant discussion of the next distance to cover, the food, whether the next albergue will be open. I am not used to the talk.
So the challenge is to hold on to that early morning bird call, to see the poppies in the dry grass. Perhaps the hardest learning is the practice of being open to other people, not to begrudge them their talking or concerns and anxieties. The challenge now is to hold onto both magic and the reality of everyday life which is beginning to reassert itself.