3rd Stage: A Guarda - Monasterio de Oia (12.9 km / 8 mi)
Having now left Portugal and arrived in Spain, I think I can say a little something about my experience of being in the country of my heritage.
I cried. A lot.
Not sobs. Well, not in public. That sometimes came unexpectedly when back in my room where I looked at this picture of my mother and her siblings (The Medeiros Clan 1956) which I brought with me on Camino.
In public, my eyes just started to sweat.
I cried every time I saw someone who looked like me.
I cried (and gasped a wee gasp that caught in my throat) every time I saw someone who looked like they might be related to me - a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, a sister, a brother.
I cried because they were so beautiful or handsome; because their language sounded like music; because their food looked and smelled so good; because their hair was beautifully, outrageously dark and curly; because their homes were so well constructed, their small lawns so well-manicured, their flowers and fruit trees so lovingly tended and pruned.
I cried because I remembered being a kid in Fall River, MA and being called “dirty Portugy” and some kids wrinkling up their noses at the food in our lunch boxes, pointing at our hand-me-down clothes and talking and smirking with their heads turned, behind their hands, and the way they laughed at our curly hair and dark skin and eyes, and their laughter as they mimicked our language.
I cried at the cruelty of children but the greater cruelty of their parents who knew better - had perhaps experienced it themselves - and still allowed it without saying a word. And then, they all walked together to church on Sunday and snickered at us as we walked to “our” church where the mass was spoken in Portuguese.
I cried because I was finally - finally - finally able to let go of most of the burning shame and the anger and forgive myself for being Portuguese and Azorean and …. different.
And then - finally - finally - finally I was able to forgive those who mocked me – us – for maybe they knew what they were doing but I can’t believe they knew how much damage they had done or how long it would last or what it would take to let go of it. Finally.
I’d like to believe that, anyway. I have to hold onto something good, even as I let go of a lot of some things that are bad. Very bad.
This Camino is, in large part, a journey of forgiveness, for me. To find it for myself. To ask forgiveness of others. To be able to forgive. To re-member.
Because I do believe that de Chardin was right. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
And, before I leave most this amazing planet, I’d like to be a good human. A better human. A whole human being with a soul that is healed or on its way to healing.
Which I think, starts with forgiveness. At least, it’s a good place to start.
In Portugal, the long journey into the soul, to find healing and wholeness, has begun.
So, I cried. A lot.
Today is a Day of Silence. We will do a "walking meditation" up the hill. It goes like this: One foot, "I am home." Second foot, "I am arriving."
I may cry. With joy.