Coming down the steep hill on our second day into the town of Zubiri, I blew out my left knee. On our fourth day, leaving Pamplona, we climbed El Alto del Perdón (the height of forgiveness), with the beautiful iron statues of perigrinos (pilgrims) past. Climbing down the steep, rocky hill from El Alto, I protected my left knee with my right ankle—oh what a painful mistake! I thought I was so much stronger than I am. I had no idea that it would be this hard.
We are now on day 12, approaching the city of Burgos, just before the 200 kilometer-long, flat plain called “La Meseta.” Today was my first ibuprofen-free day. For several mornings after I lost full use of my right ankle, I walked in acute pain. Going downhill was excruciating. Walking flat was challenging. Fortunately going uphill was easy, and quite a relief.
Some of you may remember that one of my motives for walking the Camino was to “learn how to walk with Minga.” I tend to walk much faster than her, and, when we have walked together in our Cambridge lives, I must admit to a bit of impatience with our mutual pace. Well, now it is not my choice. My walking wings have been clipped. I hobble along to keep up with Minga’s pace, especially downhill. I have taken to walking backwards on steep downhills, and so far have not fallen.
The biggest and most surprising lesson for me is humility. I started the Camino thinking that hiking poles were for sissies. On the first day of acute pain, a father and daughter, whom we had met on the first day, passed us. They asked how we were doing. I told them about my ankle pain and that I would be purchasing hiking poles in the next big town. The father had cut his right hand slicing bread, severely enough that he could not hold a pole. He gave me one of his poles. Such an act of kindness! A literal God send. I did buy a set of poles, so now we have three poles between us. We hope to encounter the father/daughter team again, but they were traveling much faster than us.
As I walk, at times I am given to contemplate on the very big questions around participation in a pilgrimage for a Saint who was used as a war symbol in the Christian re-conquest of the Spanish peninsula from the Moors. James was called “Santiago Matamoros” (Saint James the Moor Slayer). Visions of the Saint, leading the Christian warriors on a blazing white horse, were seen on the battlefield. I pray that by walking, I can reclaim the apostle James, transforming his image from the warrior Saint back to the simple fisherman, a follower of Jesus, the prince of peace.
Yet as I struggle to break through the pain, I am humbled and broken with the awareness that I have a whole lot of inward work to do. Walking in pain, I have come face-to-face with my petty, limited, judgemental self. I walk—perhaps like all of us, even all creation—in deep need of forgiveness and the unconditional love of God.
Wheni first started reading this entry I thought it was written by Minga so when I got to the line that spoke about “learning to walk with Minga” I thought it was an interesting way of talking about being more centered or more fully present with oneself! Then I realized that Jonathon had written entry. then I realized he was indeed talking about being more present to self.
I am however worried about your ankle. I know some injuries are indeed made much worse by walking on them. So I hope you are not going to do something bad to yourself? Wish a dr could advise you.
I really appreciate your honest sharing of the difficulties and the blessings and the connections between them. Great writing, great photos, great souls. Espero que vayan con Dios (y yo se que lo hacen todos los dias en todo el mundo). xxx ksc
It is good to learn that you are having an important walk and that the ankle pain, however difficult, has not meant that you have had to suspend such a promising undertaking. May you be blessed as you continue the camino.
Yes, James the simple fisherman and Jesus, prince of peace. May you discover him within you and wrestle with your inner demons. Your struggle is an inspiration to me back home, not on the pilgrimage in the flesh but in Spirit.
Hope your injury heals. But glad you are using the hking / walking poles as I suggested you do when you were in Cambridge.
It is good to read of your experiences and your processing of them. Know that you are held in my thoughts and my heart each day. Sending you lots of love and hoping the bodily challenges lessen as you progress across northern Spain. Love and hugs!
<3 and blessings.
Nice chicken, too
Jonathan, my brother,
Thanks for sharing this, as we, in modest measure, share your pain and hold the ankle in the Light.
That was a typo and supposed to say “physically challenging ” times ahead, but maybe it is also psychically challenging!
So sorry to hear about your ankle injury and pain. Your story about turning it into a life lesson on humility is very moving. And amazing how angels show up when you need them most. I am sure you will pay it forward in some way. Wishing you less psychically challenging times ahead.
Oh my, Jonathan.
Certainly not what you expected, but still an extraordinary learning experience. So many are holding you “in the Light.” I hope that you can feel the love and support directed your way.
This is very profound thinking…as was Minga’s note to me and her other amigas two days ago. I think the Camino pilgrimage must be life-altering, the lessons unforgettable, the challenges unrelenting. And you two are doing it!! My respect and admiration for you are without measure. I could not do the walk; again, you two are doing it!! Dare I ask, how much longer, how much further??
dearest JVB — so sorry about your knee & ankle. May God’s grace be with you. Sending you much healing energy and love!
One of the things I love most about aging is that I am now able to catch myself in those “…petty, limited, judgemental” thoughts in time to stop them before they escape into the world and hurt someone. God is good.
ouch! I feel for you.Thinking of you both, holding you in the Light.
walk on dear friends, even if—maybe because of and thru—that pain. suffering, what a commanding teacher.
How I grieve for Jonathan and his ankle pain. It sounds, however, if you are taking advantage of the situation to reassess your viewpoints. Still, I hope you get better faster rather than slower.
Love to you and Minga