“I just am so happy. I am so happy, I can’t even tell you” is what I just now overheard my morning walking partner, Ruth, say to her neighbor as we headed to our next destination. With my responsibility being to walk last for our group of 21 pilgrims to ensure everyone was making their way, I walked with Ruth the majority of our 9 kilometers to O’Cebreiro, a walk described by some as the ‘demon’ or the Mount Everest of the Camino. Today, it was neither of things as instead it was defined by accomplishment and overcoming fear. The type of fears that prevent us from reaching our true potential, and the type of fear that almost kept Ruth from walking today. But she did it anyways and realized that she had just unknowingly promoted herself to the group that will be walking the maximum on this trip.
This has been a very different Camino that we started four days ago. Not walking my own pace in order to look out for others has forced me to slow down and smell the literal roses on our way. Today was no exception as instead of pushing myself to the physical limit, I instead found myself watching Ruth step around rocks on the path, suggesting pictures for her to snap and engaged in a conversation for the sake of conversation and sharing with each other. While only for 9km, in our moments of silence I found myself thinking of some of my own most important relationships and the need at times to get in step with someone else instead of staying in step with myself – that is if you value relationships. As an only child and in years of being on my own, I have questioned my own capacity at times to get in step with someone else. Any slight deviation and I find myself yearning solitude more than companionship. Today as I walked in step with Ruth I enjoyed this moments shared with a new friend and realize that in my ‘real’ life if I take time to get in step with those that matter most – the possibilities of things that we will share are endless.