THINKING OF DENISE
On the day before
the day before the last day,
my thoughts were with her.
47° and I can hear birds.
Were the weather guessers wrong, again??? Maybe no rain? The sky was tentative and it was a "see your breath" kind of day...my kind of day, regardless of rain.
I walked the first 20k with Jacqueline from Holland, past the point where two years before, an American woman named Denise was lured from the path and killed. She was on my mind constantly...not because I feared any personal danger, but because I wondered what she was thinking as she walked this same path. Did she sense her upcoming fate? Did she ignore her instincts? Why did it happen? It was so senseless. I hurt for her and for her family and hoped her last views of the Spanish countryside were as beautiful as mine had been. Maybe that counted for something.
The ebb and flow of the Camino allows friends to see each other, sometimes more than once a day, sometimes every other day, and other times only after weeks. Four members of my "tribe" all arrived today, at different times, in Rabanal, a small village where I remembered staying the year before. We ate lunch together and compared our days. Times like these reconnected us and helped form lasting friendships.
After filling my belly with lentil soup, I decided to walk solo, 6 more kilometers, to a village called Foncebadon. I was nursing another blister so I went slow. Through rust colored ferns, small white flowers and rock walls, I walked this cushioned, rain-soaked path alone with my thoughts. Up ahead, just as I needed a rest, I spied a lone bench. I sat, looked out over the landscape and reconstructed my day. Although still preoccupied with thoughts of the American woman, It nonetheless was magical.
After a short stop, I climbed closer to Cruz de Ferro, a high point on the Camino. For centuries, a metal cross on a simple, wooden pole has attracted pilgrims. Stones or other mementos are carried, many times from the beginning of the journey or from "home" and added to the existing pile to symbolize the laying down of burdens. Prayers are offered and faith renewed. Tomorrow, as the sun rises, with my own offering, I will climb the rock pile at Cruz de Ferro, lay my burdens down and say a prayer for Denise.