Sue, one of my new Kiwi (New Zealander) friends, told me on the last day we were together in Santiago de Compestela, that I would use all that I learned and re-learned on pilgrimage as I came back into the business of daily life in North Carolina.
She was correct...of course.
The signs of being a pilgrim to Santiago are evident in many places of my life. For example, on the subway trip to the Madrid airport, a young Argentinian noticed my three pins stuck to a strap on my day pack: an arrow; the cross of St. James, and a scallop shell. "You're a pilgrim to Santiago, yes?" he inquired. "Si!" I said excitedly. In part-English, part-Spanish, we conversed about the pilgrimage, in which the young man he would rather ride the pilgrimage on bicycle rather than walk. I smiled, still feeling a tinge of "sensation" from my healing blisters.
I returned from the pilgrimage to preach and lead the church's Session meeting on Sunday; present the School of the Pilgrim to Waldensians on Monday; visit with church members on Tuesday; and run errands all over town (Chapel Hill and Carrboro) on Wed. What kept my grounded were the words, "One step at a time, one day at a time," which pilgrims use a lot, as do many others in our world. I was able to simply step into the next task, the next place, and do what I was expected to do.
This held true on pilgrimage as well: I learned to move one step at a time, without worrying (as much) as to what would happen in the next few miles down the road. This allowed me to enjoy the beauty of northern Spain, which is incredibly hilly...to say the least.
Pilgrim lessons abound!