Early summer 2017. My wife and I are finally doing it—the Holy Pilgrimage of St. James the Apostle in northern Spain, AKA the Camino. I was 77, Cedar 72. Except for a few lame people—there were some—we would be the slowest pilgrims under way. “Buen Camino!” others would tell us as they left us in their wake: “Have a good Pilgrimage!” In mid-afternoon, though, we would pass these folks. We had a couple of hours to go. They were now sitting outside a café, enjoying their tinto, the red vin ordinaire Spaniards call “ink.” Still, we managed to walk 200 kilometers, or 120 miles, in nine days, with one rest day in the middle. Not bad for two geriatric peregrinos!
More importantly, two miracles, one smaller and one bigger, happened on our Camino. First, the smaller one. I am not watch proud. Unlike the Movado crowd, I opt for the cheaper the better, typically a multi-function Timex for under $30. My last watch, however, was a splurge—$60 but looking even more expensive. Still, in the era of smart Apple watches, it was definitely a dumb watch. For example, if a particular month has 30 days, it shows day 31 and I have to manually change it to day 1 of the next month. You get the picture. When we got to Europe, I of course reset the time. Then, just as we started our Camino, I happened to look at the little day window. Somehow, all by itself, without any manual prompting from me, it had changed from English to Spanish. The fact was, I didn’t even know it had days abbreviated in other languages, nor if it did, how I could make the necessary changes. The following year when I was in France, Germany, and Austria, no similar “miracles” took place. To this day I read “lun,” “mar,” “mie,” etc.—a permanent reminder of our Camino.
The bigger miracle was not just a sign but guidance. The tradition for pilgrims is to have an intention or question they want answered from higher realms. My question was, As I approach my 78th birthday, what does Spirit want me to do with whatever life and energy I have left? I got not one but two answers. On reaching our goal, the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, I heard a voice inside me say, “What you asked is actually none of your business.” I felt dashed. Then a second, less abrupt answer came. It said, “All right. We can tell you something. You know those yellow arrows placed along the Camino to make sure pilgrims stay on the right path. Well, we actually place arrows like that inside every human being. Unfortunately, many do not see them or if they do, do not follow them. You have been blessed because you can both see and follow them. That’s why we are not giving you any further instructions.” When Cedar and I got back home to Boulder, I took up writing my latest book, Wisdom for Living—Learning to Follow Your Inner Guidance, in earnest. The book is now out and selling well.