Yellow arrows are the most common waymarks on the Camino. In addition to arrows there are yellow scallop shells on a blue background posted on road signs and on two foot tall cement posts. In larger towns and cities the municipality usually embeds metal scallop shells, or some other scallop design, in the pavement to help pilgrims find their way. Along with waymarks there is a lot of graffiti—on underpass walls, concrete pavement, road signs, trees, bus stops, etc. There are colorful renditions of “Buen Camino,” as well as the regular graffiti art one finds anywhere in the world, political and otherwise Then there are the messages explicitly for and about pilgrims that have way of working into the soul. Two such messages have touched me.
About a week ago, scrawled on a board hanging from a tree, I saw the words, “Don’t give up before the miracle!” We hadn’t even made the halfway mark by then and I was feeling a bit discouraged. The sign itself was a miracle. A few days later, walking very slowly with a man in great pain from shin splints, I mentioned having seen the sign. He immediately said, “why I’ve already had my miracle,” and proceeded to share a story about how his faith was restored by a simple conversation with a fellow pilgrim. Mentioning the sign to another Camino friend, she told me about her miracle, seeing a rainbow settle its arch over the path in front of her for more than half an hour.
The second piece of Camino graffiti I saw was on a cement cross saying, “Carry me to Santaigo.” I thought, “now that’s cute and took a photo of the cross. Just today I learned that a long-time Camino friend took the sign seriously and actually carried the 35 pound cross for half a kilometer. He said that after he put it down his whole body, backpack and all, felt so light that he was ready to dance down the road.
We leave Leon tomorrow morning, 13 days and 300 kilometers to Santiago de Compestela, and another 3 days and 70k to the northwest coast, Finisterre, the “end of the earth.” Bodies, minds and Spirit are strong and ready for the miracles that await us.