The Camino is in quarantine and is preparing to receive us in the future. When we return to it, we will be thankful that this situation that we are living, not only in Spain or Ireland but worldwide, has ended. Those were some words of the pilgrim blessing that Father Eugene gave us live on March 28 through the web from St. James’s church in Dublin.
The Way must be kept alive somehow. I stay physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally active in these moments of pandemic, while living the Way in different forms.
1.- Through social networks. The pilgrim network is international, intercultural and multilingual. First, we followed up and helped many pilgrims who, being on the Camino, had to return home immediately. Many had to almost cover half of Spain and go half way round the world in order to reach their homes. We became adept at finding up-to-date information on all types of transportation. We also helped and guided those who were going to start their pilgrimage and were confused as to whether or not they should postpone their travels.
There are many pilgrims who are sharing photos, videos and information to make the “Camino desde casa”. We pilgrims are ambassadors for the Camino, so those of us who have already gone on continue collaborating with those who have not yet done so or with those who have had to postpone their pilgrimage. We support each other with messages of encouragement, prayers and above all words of encouragement to move forward.
2.- Pilgrimage inside the house. My room is on the second floor of the house, allowing me to go up and down steps without going outside. I already know the route when leaving my room as well as some other routes on the Camino. Some days I do it with a backpack across my shoulders and on others I do it with the laundry basket.
I start my route with three warm-up steps, a curve with two-step stretching, eleven steps down to reach the first floor, a curve that I must be careful when crossing with my colleagues with whom I live because I have a level crossing without berries at home, three more steps and the last eleven to reach the ground floor for a total of twenty-eight steps. I organize my daily route, at least twenty times, that is, more than a thousand steps. There are those who tell me that if I go down twenty times and climb another twenty it is as if I had not done anything, but my legs do not think the same, especially when I feel like going to the bathroom and I run up because there are no trees between the stairs.
3.- At the back garden. If it is a good day, I go to the pilgrim corner that I have at home where I have a big shell made with pallets that my father made for me at Christmas 2018, a special corner with pilgrim boots and shells from the road. There I sit down to read a book, to eat fruit or a snack, to write in my diary, to listen and see the little birds, to contact my pilgrim friends whom I have gathered around the world but, that thanks to technology, I can speak with them as if they were by my side. Or I think and simply to disconnect for a little while to connect with myself spiritually.
4.- Pilgrimage in my town. I go shopping with the backpack that I always use on the Camino and I take the pilgrim staff that I sometimes use to mark the social distance of the two meters that they advise in Ireland. When they see me pass by, they ask me if I am going for a walk and I tell them that I am going on a pilgrimage to the shops.
I am excited to walk with my backpack on my shoulder and have the feeling that I am on the Camino. There is little traffic and few people on the street. Wild life has also noticed the change and the animals are walking calmly. More birds are heard, I see more squirrels climbing the trees, some absent-minded fox that scares me when he jumps, thinking that I will harm him. Or several rabbits preparing for Easter.
I fill my backpack with things I really need. The Camino has taught me to carry what is “needed” and leave the “just in case”. I do not buy extras because I plan well what I will need for food in the next two weeks, since I have organized a pilgrim menu calendar and I carry it quite well. Sometimes a friend passes by a house or a neighbour and they give me a piece of cake that they baked with the children, freshly baked bread, even some fruit or vegetables from their gardens; which brings back memories of the solidarity and kindness that I have witnessed on the Camino.
The Camino is not gone, it awaits us unconditionally and in silence to continue recording in its memories the living experiences of all of us who make up the pilgrim family. At the moment I have adjusted and I live it in another way with great enthusiasm.
May Santiago enlighten and guide all those who fight unconditionally exposing their lives to help those who need support at this time and give strength to those who are fighting to win the battle.
Pilgrim, ACC Volunteer and Camino Society Ireland Volunteer