Right now I’m sitting in a church albergue in Logroño, Spain with new friends from California, Lithuania, and Britain. With one ear I listen to Kirk’s California band play “Southern Swell” while with the other ear I listen to him talk with Dalia and Alice about how we can only see ourselves age in the mirror and that we must choose to become kinder.
Now he tells us about how his mom came from a convent in Columbia to Iowa and ended up as a model on TV. My mind begins to float over the other stories I’ve heard along The Way. Andreas, who planned this trip with his father who passed away before they could make it, so now he is it doing it for them both. He began walking in Germany. Victor, a Mexican-American who is joining the military after this trip and wants to be in the special forces. The Camino is his last hurrah. Ron, a former associate pastor who is writing a book while walking and looking for God’s new direction in his life.
I thought this trip would be an immersion into Spanish culture, but it feels more like wading through a stream of international cultures with Spain as the river banks. Ever present and guiding us along, but only a conduit, a setting. But I suppose El Camino was never really about Spain.
Sure, we’re all looking for something, but we didn’t come here to find it in Spain, or even Santiago de Compestella. We all knew that our answers were within us, or within our own conversation with God, so we came here to have that conversation. Perhaps we expected the trail to carve those answers out of our flesh, it certainly feels painful enough, but the real conversation is happening between each other. The openness we share crosses cultural and language barriers. We suffer together, and so we understand each other. Within this community we share our life experiences as answers to one another, and so we find our answers not in the Camino but in one another.