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Praying to the Wrong Cross

I woke up and headed out while it was still dark because I wanted to reach Cruz del Ferro by sunrise. As it turned out, it was overcast and I got there a bit early but the view on the way as the sun was just waking up and peeking out from under the cloud covers turned out to be more moving to me than the visit to “The Iron Cross,” anyway.

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Before I left home, I had read all about this place and was very excited to finally reach it. The idea is to bring a rock from home that represents the “burdens” that you’ve been carrying that you want to leave at the foot of the cross and behind you as you make your way closer to Santiago. The night before I left home, I pulled a rock off of the little shelf where I keep special rocks from places that have been meaningful to me. I passed the rock around the table and I asked each of my children to hold the stone in their hand and place their burdens on it and I told them I would carry it to “The Iron Cross” for them and leave them in Spain so they didn’t have to carry them anymore.

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Apparently, I was so excited that I jumped the gun a bit. A couple of days before Claus left, we experienced a numinous encounter with God. The very next morning, we came upon a beautiful cross standing in the middle of a field surrounded my labyrinths made of rocks by peregrinos. I just assumed this was the cross I had heard so much about. So, I took the stone out of my fanny pack, knelt at the edge of the pile of stones, and placed my burdens and those of my children at the base. It felt so good. So right. And, I trust that it was. Even if it turns out it wasn’t the traditional place.

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On the way to the Camino, I picked up a special stone from the Black Beaches of Iceland. I have been carrying it in my fanny pack to bring home and place on my little altar/shelf. Instead, I left it here at Cruz del Ferro. I imbued it with my prayers for my children and loved ones. I also left my questions about Claus and how-in-the-world we could cross continents, language barriers, family priorities, work necessities, time zones, frustrating FaceTime connections, money limitations and old fear patterns in order to keep walking together. Maybe, that big of a prayer needed two crosses!

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The rest of the day’s walking was spectacular scenery. It was very cold and windy on the mountain but the landscape warmed my heart so much that I barely noticed. I was even treated with a full rainbow that I could stand under. I like that phrase, it reminds me of “understanding.” Sometimes, we don’t understand the promises of God but we can always stand under them and believe in them and trust in His love and ability to be faithful to them. That is what I choose to do today.

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As you read yesterday, I have really been struggling with loneliness these last few days, especially in the evening. The days have been long and hard, walking seven or eight hours a day. My feet, legs and shoulders ache and I can’t wait to check into my albergue at night, only to discover that the ache of my body is a welcome distraction from the ache of my heart, the loneliness of a room full of strangers and the homesickness that is getting louder and louder the closer I get to Santiago.

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A few days before Claus left, after we had experienced so many synchronistic answers along the Way, I asked him, “If you could ask the Camino to answer one question for you, what would it be?” He said that he would want to know what the constriction was he felt in his stomach and what it represented that he was holding onto and needed to let go. I then said, “And, if you could ask the Camino for one practical answer, what would it be?” He said that he would love to find a ride with someone to Santiago rather than having to take the bus.

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He asked me the same questions. I answered, “I would like to know why I sometimes feel disconnected from my deepest feelings. Sometimes, it is as if, I can only feel the emotions that are on the surface and then, randomly, at other times my deepest feelings erupt and break through the surface but I would really like for them to be more connected.” And, on a practical note, I said that I would love to connect with the friend-of-a-friend that was walking the Camino. They were about a week ahead of me so it didn’t look like it was possible that it could happen but I thought it was worth letting “The Way” know that I wanted it to find a way.

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Well, guess what, yesterday afternoon, I walked into the little village of Molinaseca and stumbled right into the couple I had asked the Camino to engineer our path-crossing. As it turned out, since I had taken the bus and skipped ahead a few days, plus the fact that I’ve been walking around 18 miles a day, I caught up with them and ran into them as they were getting up from a bocadilla lunch. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet up for dinner once we all arrived in Ponferrada.

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We enjoyed a three-hour dinner conversation and probably could have talked until morning. It was such a sweet answer to prayer. Whether I thank “The Camino,” “The Way,” “Jesus,” “God,” “The Universe,” or “Love,” I know my prayers are heard and, although, they may not always be answered the way that I want, I do know the “Answerer” pays attention and when I pay attention “synchronicities” seem to happen more often. 🙂

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