In our mission agency, we often use the African proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." We see this play out every day on The Camino.
There are people who are speeding along, pushing their physical limits, and leaving everyone else in the dust. Occasionally, we catch back up to them later, but usually because they have pushed too hard and are injured or too exhausted to continue. We ran into one of those people today. Early in our time on The Camino, we ran in to her often as she was walking at a pace and itinerary similar to ours. But a few days ago, she was complaining that she needed to walk faster and that would mean shedding some relational weight (walking buddies). Today, we were shocked to run in to her...she has been walking 42-45 km per day! But she looked spent. She looked sad. Before, she was always smiling and laughing. Now she just looked exhausted and sad.
I have been amazed at how fast a walking day goes when you have someone engaging you in talk and laughter. Days with Little Billy or walking with Raewyn seem to clip along at a better pace and mood. When someone pulls up alongside and you walk a few kilometers sharing stories, hours just seem to melt away and take your mind off of the sore feet and aching knees.
I was thinking today about how much I owe most of my Camino journey to others who have come alongside and kept me walking.
I am grateful to Billy (the husband one) for being there every step of the way...honestly, I would have quit on Day One if he hadn't been there to coach me through the struggle and the pain. And there have been about a million other times that I would have thrown in the towel if he hadn't been there to dust me off and keep moving.
I'm thankful for all the crazy, fun pilgrims who have kept us laughing on the trail.
I'm thankful for all the folks who sit around pilgrim dinner tables with us at night. There's no bad day that can't be greatly improved by a family style dinner and talking with friends.
I'm grateful for locals...The sweet people who see pilgrims walk down their streets every single day. I think it would be easy to get tired of that, yet there have been so many really precious local people who have taken the time to say hello, to wish us well, to get us back on the path when we get lost. Just this morning, one man stopped, without being asked and without us saying a word, he stopped in the pouring rain to ask us if we needed help (we were looking at a map). He then proceeded to give us very detailed directions...All while standing in the rain! Then he smiled and said, "Buen Camino" and was off. Another woman, also today, stopped directly in front of us and made a very intentional point of looking each of us in the eye to wish us well on our journey. Those folks bring a lump to my throat! So nice of them to help and to speak words of encouragement to complete strangers.
And there are folks back home - home in Spain and home in the USA - who keep encouraging us, keep reading this silly blog, keep sending us prayers and messages to help us along. You are an integral part of the Camino journey, whether you think so or not.
I don't think anyone could ever say I did this Camino 'fast'. And I definitely have not done it alone. I am sure grateful for all the people who have been with us...We still have a long way to go, so we need to go together.