La Lumière: May 2023
It was beautiful and sunny in Ligonde, Spain as we sat outside La Fuente del Peregrino greeting pilgrims as they walk. We were 75km from their destination, the church in Santiago purported to house the remains of James, the disciple. People walk the Camino for many different reasons. Besides their backpacks, many carry psychological or spiritual burdens which time, perseverance, the rhythmic sound of their footsteps, and conversations work away at. In talking with pilgrims it's clear that God is especially present on the Camino.
Our team of 11 people ran the refuge for one week, greeting pilgrims and offering them coffee, tea or lemonade. We kept the bathrooms immaculately clean, asked where they are from and what motivates them to walk, and invited them to put a pin on the map. By the end of the week, 56 different countries were represented! Up to seven pilgrims could stay overnight with us, everyone sharing a meal together. Reflecting the character of our French team, we made crêpes, brioches, and other pastries to share. We told them everything we offer, the coffee, food, beds is a gift, because God has given us such a precious gift in Jesus.
We heard remarkable stories. A young man from Italy walked for his father who passed away. He had invited his son to walk the Camino with him multiple times. A pastor from Pennsylvania spoke to a young German on Good Friday and the latter accepted Christ. Since then other pilgrims commented on how he has been transformed, and everyone wanted a selfie with this pastor. Another young man has been a vagabond all over the world for the last 16 years, out of contact with his family. We talked about faith during dinner the night before, and I expressed my prayer for him that Jesus would show himself worthy of his faith. In the guestbook he writes, "The roller coaster of emotions I felt during my stay here I find impossible to express in words. It would destroy the beauty, the holiness, the purity of it. I cried, I laughed, I loved, I was sad, I felt comfortable. All of the above." He asked to talk with me as he finished breakfast, so we went outside. He began with, "Last night I dreamt I saw Jesus." And he had the strong conviction that it's time to recontact his mother who is now 70 years old. We talked through it and concluded with a long hug… and he continued walking his Camino. We came simply to serve in any way we could, not knowing how our offering would weave itself into the divine tapestry the master weaver is forming. Jimmy from New York wrote this, "La Fuente was an oasis. This place and especially the people, the volunteers, renewed my body and spirit." Through the smiles and care and openness, God shows up moving hearts, including ours.