"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." Emily Dickinson
Oh, how ready we are to welcome and embrace this experience and all it promises. However, it is probably a good time to consider that it is one thing to envision something and another thing to actually experience it.
While out walking, on the few spring-like days we've had, I've imagined the trek over the Pyrenees. I've seen myself clomping up the mountain. I've felt the refreshing breeze offsetting the intense warm rays of the bright sun. I've inhaled the crisp mountain air. I've felt the pack cushioned comfortably on my shoulders and my camera slung easily ready to capture this glorious moment. What I have not pictured was me slogging through a torrential downpour staggering under the weight of my overloaded backpack. I have not felt my fingers frozen to my hiking poles or the tears of ice, from wind whipped eyes, streaming down my face. I have not felt my steps weary from boots laden with mud. However, as the saying goes, "Man plans, God laughs" so if reality does not reflect my naive vision then I am prepared to persevere, endure, prevail and be open to the experience.
Just what is it that we are open to and, just as importantly, why are we doing this? Up to this point I have not been overly introspective about my purpose for this pilgrimage. Planning and packing have dominated most of my Camino thoughts. As our departure date creeps up, I now find myself second guessing my abilities and my stamina and also questioning the deeper reason for embarking on this adventure.
At the risk of being superficial I, somewhat facetiously, but not entirely so, see it as a vacation where I can indulge but not gain weight. I see it as a test of my stamina and endurance and, hopefully, a slap in the face to my astounding chronological age. It will be a chance to see if those 18 months of Spanish classes were of any value. I imagine it as a peacefully flowing, or plodding, meditation on the move. For Dayton; well, he says he is going on this Camino because it's a 'meet and greet' opportunity, new people with whom to share wine and food, and John, well, he's going because Linda said he could. On a more serious note, we have been counselled that the real reason for going on a pilgrimage will become clearer once we are finished. Hmm.
The one thing that we have to keep at the centre of this is that it is the journey not the destination that counts. What we need to remember is to be in the moment, to enjoy the moment and to not obsess or over plan where we want to be and when.
For whatever reasons we are doing this, we all agree that we are open to the experience; we are determined to let things happen; our souls stand ajar and we are ready to experience our Camino.