The Camino Gives You What You Need
Yesterday I arrived in Spain to begin my volunteer stint as a hospitalera at the San Anton Monastery. It was a long and arduous drive taking two days and when we arrived my fellow hospitalero, gave me a quick rundown of how everything works.
As it was late afternoon there seemed to be very few pilgrims coming by. A few people stopped and looked at the ruins but none was interested in staying the night.
Eventually close to 7pm, the hospitalero announced that he was going or a night out on the town, as it seemed unlikely that we would be hosting any pilgrims.
I was enjoying the early evening ambience around the monastery, feeling slightly inadequate. First day on the job and no pilgrims! My partner, who stayed with me overnight before beginning the Camino today, suggested that we make ourselves dinner, have a cold shower, and retire early to bed to recover from the long drive.
Honestly speaking, there was more to my feelings of inadequacy than I was letting on. I felt that my “first day on the job” was reflecting what was happening in my life now.
Starting my own business has required great fortitude, resilience, patience, and business acumen. I would say the skill I lack the most is patience. Currently I have experienced a fair amount of anxiety around client acquisition and while I have done everything, I am capable of doing I now await for the seeds to take root, so to speak.
I asked my partner if this was going to be a week without pilgrims. Have my business issues followed me to the Camino and is this a further test?
I was reassured that the pilgrims would come. “Don’t worry, the ones who want to stay here will come when they are ready.”
After hearing this, I felt a strong sense and reminder just to be. Not to worry about doing, and making, and planning and busy-ness, but just to be. I realised that if not one pilgrim decided to stay over this coming week, I am still exactly, where I need to be.
I took a moment to breathe deeply, recommit to just being and enjoy the moment.
Through the gorgeous gateway came a local man on a bike looking for the hospitalero. Even with poor Spanish, I understood that he lives locally, hails originally from Madrid, and likes to pop into the Albergue and visit with the volunteers and pilgrims. I mentioned that there were no pilgrims, but offered him a glass of wine. We had just poured a glass when three travel weary pilgrims ambled through the gigantic stone entrance.
“We are not too late are we? Do you still have available beds for us?” they asked concerned. I quickly evaluated them and joked that as long as they were not the drunken and disorderly types, they were welcome to stay.
They seemed incredulous that they were the first guests and could not understand why the Albergue was not full. After I showed them to their beds and discussed dinnertime with them, I left them to freshen up and perform their pilgrim chores.
We were just about to start cooking when another two bedraggled pilgrims came in dragging carts behind them. They were also surprised that there was space available.
It was time to spring into action and start preparing a meal for seven people by candle light. My partner and I worked efficiently in unity and in no time all the pilgrims had freshened up under the cold shower and dinner was on the table.
At first, I wondered if we should not try to track down the other hospitalero but then I realised that all was well, this was a small challenge for me to deal with.
Honestly, I felt so blessed with my first pilgrim dinner with my first pilgrims. As we started eating, I shared my joy with them and it was a delightful evening of fellowship, friendship, great food and some fine guitar playing and singing.
The first group of three had only met on the day, in typical Camino fashion. The Awesome Soulful Austin from the US, newly graduated Anastasia from Germany and young school graduate Dom from Lithuania who walked 80km the previous day.
The second couple were Russ from England and his German partner Sylvia. They have been walking since April, have completed two Caminos this year, and are currently walking back to Frankfurt in Germany.
I came to Spain with the intention to offer service through love. I am cognisant of the incredible love I received from numerous angels as I walked last year and I hope to give back a small piece of what I received.
The evening filled with love and laughter as people shared their stories, their challenges, and triumphs. We each recognised ourselves in one another and simply delighted in being.
Before I fell asleep I realised it is true, the Camino does give us what we need.
I was in need of reassurance that if I plant the right seeds in my business they will grow, that the people I meant to work with will come, and that I will be able to serve through love in my work.
I realised that the five people who arrived last night were the perfect match for my first day on the job. During the day, other people had popped in and in my “neediness” to have pilgrims I wanted to convince them to stay but they were not the right fit for me.
How often do we pursue relationships in life or business that we know we should not? We come from a certain place of neediness or wanting something and often these relationships are fraught with stress, strife etc. There is not a natural ease, a state of being where both parties mutually benefit from the relationship.
So, that was my first day “on the job” and already the Camino has provided me with a powerful lesson and reminder: Angela, allow yourself to be, don’t try to force something to happen because you are desperate (or think you are!) or in a place of neediness. Trust that if you have planted the seeds and continue to nurture them, that in their season they shall flourish and produce a good harvest.
All is well right now although I may not always see that right now!
Perhaps this is the only lesson I came to Spain to learn, perhaps not. I do however continue to water the seeds of intention to serve with love each day.