Four years ago around now I was preparing to end my time at the church I was working at and then a few days later begin my journey on the Camino that would eventually bring me to this place here and now. I was collecting the things I needed for this grand walk and I was in a different kind of headspace. I was pretty destroyed from a broken marriage and broken relationships around me. I was hurt from what I had been to with a destructive church and I had no idea what lay before me. I started the walk that would change everything on April 21, 2017.
Right now I am working on a book proposal that kind of begins with the journey to that walk and opens up a life of pilgrimage for me. It becomes walking to new places of life. As I write, I have been reflecting on what brought me to that point.
In addition in a little more than a month I turn 40. I have actually been looking forward to turning 40. It seems to me that when you make it to 40 a bunch of other stuff falls away. No longer do I care as much about what people think of me. I feel more secure in my own self. I feel more clarity about who I am as I approach this marker.
I never thought I would be in Berlin on my 40th birthday. If you know me you know that I appreciate Berlin but Berlin is not my city. Plus all of the things that really make Berlin fabulous are closed and in lockdown. I have created community here and have befriended amazing people. I have learned German and explored places and parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. I have developed this amazing relationship while living here but right now Berlin feels more like an entrapment than anything else as lockdown continues. Berlin is not known for its architecture since most of it has been a rebuild from post bombing. Berlin is more concrete and boxes than I thought I would live in. I had a dream of being in Greece as I turned 40 but Greece won’t open its borders until maybe May 14th. My birthday is the 15th so that dream won’t be fulfilled yet.
I was on the Camino for my 36th birthday. This is a holy year on the Camino that will be extended from 2021 to 2022 but still a holy year. There are few people on it and few places open and the state borders are mostly closed within Spain and Spain won’t be lifting a state of emergency until the first week of May but hey…maybe? Somewhere in Spain?
These thoughts of the Camino, my birthday, a holy year and all have lead me to think about the Camino more and more. So I reached out to a few albergues (pilgrim hostels) that I have kept in contact with to see how they are doing and what they think might be the next month’s projection.
The first albergue I reached out to is the one that launched my journey, Beilari in St. Jean. The person who owns and runs this place, Joseph, is one of the most intentional and holy people I have met. He has created rituals around beginnings and a place to launch pilgrims like no other. I was scared to begin and this place made it meaningful to begin and safe to wander in. Technically this place is in France, with a different set of border restrictions and corona measures. Joseph replied as I imagined with grace and love. He told me that we just don’t know what will happen. Patience is required (not my virtue but I have more of it because of this short email) and that he prays that we will celebrate soon.
The second albergue was the albergue that Ana and I first really started flirting in in a town called Navarrete. This place holds such a special place in our minds that I almost went to volunteer there for a few weeks last summer until COVID made impossible. Angel runs this place and replied immediately that he was headed out next week to see what was open and where he could walk. He would report back. He released a book, only in Spanish so far, but yes they are doing ok. All shall be well, he wrote with a selfie and everything.
My mind has taken comfort in these two responses and the hope stays alive that perhaps someday soon I might walk a bit along this path that has changed my life in so many ways. It keeps calling to me again. We shall see.
As for birthday plans, who still knows. All I know is that I want to be not in this apartment when I turn 40 but must prepare for the possibility. The 40th birthday will come anyway and we will make it sweet no matter what. If you have suggestions, let me know. 🙂