After a breakfast of tea and toast supplied by the nuns, Kathy and I departed the albergue in high spirits; in fact, it was the most carefree I’d felt in three weeks. Although, initially I enjoyed mingling with other pilgrims as we exited the City, after an hour or so I felt tired and I longed to return to stillness.
With the busyness behind us, the rhythm of the day fell into place as we all spread out again. And in the quietness of the unfolding day, an easy peace settled upon us. We were reunited with life without distraction of any kind and we had nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other. In Kathy’s presence I felt held in a sacred, invisible and powerful container, and I experienced an inner stillness that gave me access to a deeper layer. There was no need to speak, and out of the silence the phrase follow the footsteps of Jesus came to me. It was, in fact, exactly what I felt I was doing in that moment.
It was evening time when we arrived in Hospital de Órbigo, a really beautiful town, but I had no interest in exploring it. My needs were basic after walking 37.5 km and all I wanted was a bed. Kathy planned to reach Santiago a couple of days ahead of me, and for her that meant some very long days. As our time together was limited, I was prepared to push myself for one day, while knowing the next would be a much short one for me.
After dinner I advised Kathy that there was no need to set an alarm. We were sharing the dorm with Toby, a young German man I had first met in Carrión de los Condes, where I discovered that one of his habits was to leave each day by 6 a.m., and I thought he couldn’t do that without disturbing me.