Monday, June 11, 2007

finding peace

Usually I write more about events, the travelogue of the Camino. For some reason this entry feels like a good exception.

Today I came to a cross, the Cruz de Ferro, a well known landmark of the Camino. It is high on a hill and is atop a mound of little stones. People bring stones and items from home to leave there. There are mementos tied to the base of the cross. I think the sacrifices are supposed to be representative of leaving their cares and worries.

I didn´t know much about this place. I wasn´t really anticipating it at all. The site didn´t feel especially sacred to me, and I didn´t expect the experience to matter much so I hadn´t given thought to what I would leave until I was walking this morning. When the cross came into view, I found a fist-sized white stone and unearthed it from the path. It looked pure. I dusted it off. I felt it in my palm. I realized that it didn´t mean a thing to me, that I didn´t know what I would be thinking as I placed it on the pile. I didn´t have any particular intention.

On a whim, I picked a few flowers instead. I held the flowers in my left hand and the rock in my right. I walked for awhile, weighing the flowers against the rock, and I realized that there weren´t any particular problems I needed to put there, no cares to burn. It´s not that I don´t have troubles exactly. I worry about the health of my family, my friends, myself. I worry about my country, about the world. I worry about my life. But whenever I tried to imagine the Just Right Thing to leave at the cross, I didn´t find sorrow; I just felt overwhelmed with an immense sense of gratitude and hope.

I walked toward the cross, carrying the flowers, and an Irish girl who I met yesterday was standing there. She looked at me questioningly. I explained and surprised myself by starting to cry. She gave me a hug. I walked to the top of the stones and attached the flowers between an American flag that said "Peace" and a tube of toothpaste.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Moments like these strike me unexpectedly and unexplained. A random memorial on the side of the road...a random woman crying in her car...I figure they are the moments that make me human.

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