For the past couple of weeks people have been asking me if I’m getting excited or if I’m nervous or if there are butterflies in my stomach. I have answered honestly, saying no to each of these questions. The truth is, I’ve been so busy with things that needed my attention before I take off, that I haven’t had time to think about what was looming before me. Even yesterday, my packing was interrupted by a last minute meeting set up for 4 PM.
Following that, I spent the evening with a friend and then breakfast with some other new friends. Then, I headed home to check my suitcase and backpack one last time before pulling the zippers shut and pronouncing myself ready.
Finally, on the way to the Denver airport, I felt a frisson of excitement chase its tail in my belly. Suddenly, it occurred to me that after two years of dreaming, planning, getting the right gear and training, I am on my way.
“As of this moment,” I said to my friend, Wenda, “I am a peregrina (Spanish for female pilgrim)” She looked over at me and smiled, the mile markers on the 225 flew by. Soon, we were pulled up in front of IcelandAir, my behemoth of a suitcase lugged onto the pavement, hugging goodbye.
The other day, driving home from Guffey, I saw, first one, then a second, golden eagle flying low and silent over a field; I felt a momentary shudder for the rabbit or marmot or other prey who wouldn’t know the eagle was there until its beak snapped around their delicate, trembling flesh.
I thought of the elegant violence of nature, the exacting quality of the predator and prey, each playing their part in the order of things.
My mind unwillingly went back to a news article I had read earlier in the week: several white high school football players who had tricked an African American teammate into believing they wanted to give him a hug, and instead, raped him with a coat hanger. I wondered about the fear and humiliation felt by the young black man, mentally disabled, who trusted so willingly those students who had already assaulted him numerous times with words, with taunts and racial epithets, under the silence watch of the school coach and other authorities.
That horrific image led me to another recent event in my own town of Colorado Springs in which a 21 year old homeless man—recently relocated here from Florida, I think—repeatedly raped a homeless woman who had been paralyzed in a fall after this man threw her from a ledge. For three days, she lay there, unable to move while he violated her further, until she was found and given treatment.
Some things I can only look at from the corner of my mind’s eye, lest the night terrors come in full daylight at the inhumane, inelegant violence we humans do to one another, to the earth on which we live.
The eagle flying over head had no thought of doing harm; he was not seeking a cheap thrill by hurting another. He was merely seeking to live. His fingered feather tips on his wings reached out as if to embrace the whole world, including the rabbit in his sights.
I am sitting now in Lefty’s Grill in terminal A, having a cheeseburger and a glass of wine. My pilgrim backpack and I have made it safely through security. Soon, I’ll board a plane that will take me first to Reykjavik, Iceland and then to Paris, France. From there I will take a series of trains that will bring me, ultimately, to Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, where I will officially begin my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, the 500 mile walk across northern Spain
Standing in the ticketing line I felt, for the first time, tears spring to my eyes as I thought about The Way ahead. I said a silent prayer to the eagle, and to the rabbit, that I might remember to be more like them, that I might renounce the evolution of violence and degradation that dogs our own peculiar species, that I might open my own wings to embrace the world, all of it, that my pilgrimage may take me to the deepest, most untrodden roads within myself and there, I might embrace myself and find solace and meaning in this often meaningless world in which we humans live.
Sent from my iPad
Sent from my iPad