I had set 8 a.m. as a gathering time for a regular morning walk on the sandbars during our vacation on Cape Cod Bay with our Kingsbury Beach clan. We are blessed to rent cottage #13 from Seaman Cottages, one of a clutch of simple cottages on the water’s edge, inhabited by families who return year after year, generation after generation for a few weeks every August. Different friends came to walk each day and I was graced by conversations so rich about what is at the heart of life that I could weep.
There were walks with Betsy, a cousin and kindred spirit whose husband died just a few months ago. There was Donna, also a close friend, whose boys grew up with my own on these shores. And, there was Kathy, who recently married our good friend, Ben, and is one of those souls you feel you’ve always known.
The Thursday of our first week, the four of us set out: Betsy, Donna, Kathy, and me. We walked out to Campground Beach and shortly after making the turn back for home; the sandbar under my feet gave way and a shell cut deeply into the heel of my left foot.
“Shit!!” I screamed, and then a voice within me said, “keep going.” I put one foot after the other and just kept walking. I didn’t dwell on it, I didn’t create stories in my mind, as I typically would about what I couldn’t do, and how this would impact my Camino. I just kept going. I got back to our cottage and knew I needed help. I knew, too, that I needed to trust that all would be well, that I could get through this. And, I was very aware that these were my Camino lessons – right here, right now.
It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
Let go of trying to control everything, and trust.
Who among us hasn’t had pain in his or her life: An unexpected turn, a heartache, a setback, a physical ailment? Who doesn’t have pain right now? We are all broken. We are all imperfect. We are all vulnerable. But the truth also is that we are brave, and strong, and resilient. Along the way, especially in the trials, we learn, and grow, and heal.
After a few days and several doctor visits to my podiatrist in West Hartford, I walked back to the Bay. It was roaring with waves like the ocean. I looked down and there at my feet was a scallop shell, the symbol of the Camino pilgrim. It was a rare find on these shores and unbroken. I began to cry.
I am a pilgrim – we all are. We are all seeking truth and meaning in our lives.
My mother, a breast cancer survivor, often reminds me, “It’s the hard stuff – that’s where the lessons are.” And that is one of the greatest lessons the Camino is calling us to awaken to. That we must walk through the darkness to arrive in the light. We must go to the Camino as we go into any day – into uncertainty – with courage and the knowledge that we don’t go alone. We have each other and the love of “the Great Pilgrim” with us, as author Joyce Rupp says. And we must trust – we must listen to the call of the Camino, to the shell washed up on the beach, and walk forward in our lives knowing in our very beings that all will be well. No matter what.
Sono luce, (I am light – and so are you!!)
Copyright 2018 Angela Martin
Guest post by Angela Martin, a seeker of truth, beauty and goodness, and writer and award-winning author who writes on her contemplative journey in the second half of life. Angela is co-leading the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage with Nancy Murray, September 14-23, 2018.