Ok, so it may be totally cliche, but today as I started walking, there was a proliferation of roses along the path and I did in fact stop to smell them- numerous times. As a fellow pilgrim passed by, I called out, “If you haven’t stopped to smelled the roses, you’re walking too fast!” He did in fact stop and sniff and that’s when I took his picture. He told me he was from Holland and had been waiting for 37 years to walk the Camino! I shared that, though I am Canadian born, it is Dutch blood that runs through my veins, as my parents immigrated to Canada from Friesland as children. I told him I walk the Camino like a Frisian workhorse, just keeping a slow and steady pace, whether it’s up hills or on the flat, but getting there in the end, job done! He told me he thought Frisian horses the most beautiful. I took it personally! I did a long walk today, the last part on my own over the mountain. We are in hill country now, and was reminded of the song, “I lift my eyes up, to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from you, Maker of heaven, Creator of the earth. Oh how I need you Lord, you’re my only hope, you’re my only prayer. So I will wait for you to come and rescue me, come and give me life.”
The path seemed to stretch on forever, it was starting to rain and I was beginning to worry about where I would stay the night. As I looked down on the town from the decent, it didn’t look very inviting. However, as I made the last turn into town, red roses hung over a whitewashed wall and I felt assured that I would be ok. The day of the roses! The parochial (church) Alberge was the first one I came to and I saw a familiar face- a woman from Germany, about my age. Then, a young pilgrim welcomed me in and explained the hospitalier was at dinner, but was very kind and welcoming and that I should make myself at home. I was invited to join in on a pasta meal with my Bavarian monk friend, who has been so quick to offer hospitality and some liquid cheer when we meet each other. Such small but significant gestures gave the place a warm feeling and I felt like I was home, at least for the night. That feeling if home was augmented later with the shared gender washroom facilities. With very little space to put ones clothes when they shower, I was quickly trying to get dressed while no one was around. I was just pulling up my pants when the door opened and in walked a man. He made a hurried escape, and I gave an em-bare-assed apology for flashing him. As luck would have it, as I went back to my room, he was my bunk mate for the night! I joked, “Oh well, I guess we’re family now!” Feels like home.