Actually, one get it on Camino instantly – good company. People greet each other, smile, help each other. You can simply count on other pilgrims. One, although often walk alone, is not alone at all.
Quite the opposite than everyday life, when we’re surrounded by people and sometimes we have a sense of … loneliness. Because there is none to talk to freely and honestly. Because all people are interested in their own affairs, because if they listen, then unconsciously look for what’s there useful for them.
With a good companion you can have fun, a very important thing in life. You can go through difficult times and places, uphill, the mud, the rain and so on. As in life. But the most important thing in a good companion is that he can listen to you.
The conversations that sometimes happen on Camino are unmatched. People talk about things they might not have said otherwise. And so … we share with each other, along this path, with our lives, with our hearts, with emotions, with something deep inside ourselves, which, sometimes, we are afraid to touch in ordinary conditions, in daily life.
Being a good companion is to notice another person. That’s right – to notice a man. Because everyone needs it, because everyone wants – to be noticed, acknowledged. Maybe such seeing and listening instead of taking one’s own stories is some form of love?
But there are usually two persons for whom we’re not such a good companion at all. The first is God. We learn He’s a person, we’re talking about Him – Father. We worship Him. We know a lot of prayers. We go to the church. But do we notice Him on daily basis? Are we talking to Him as a friend?
Not necessarily. Because now we need to buy a sandwich, there is a nice church over there, one needs to do the laundry, then … to the city. Or it hurts again, heart or leg, and we force ourselves to walk through that pain. He lives in the church. So when we reach it, we’ll pray. To treat Him like a friend? Tell Him in our words how it really is? It’s unseemly! Don’t even think about it! – the priest warned us against such behavior taking the sermon.
So we don’t think about it. We walk. Through life. Because He’s a judge or a king, but not a normal friend who we could accompany. This is how our religion is. Dignified, unreal, sometimes artificial or maybe even incorrect.
This other person, whom sometimes we don’t really want to know and listen to, is … we ourselves. Everyday life, a constant run, is very helpful to break-up this relationships to ourselves, one’s own emotions, to who we really are – deep down out there.
We try to feel, what “dignified” and “excellencies” teaches us. We try to do, what “should be done”. We try so hard, that sometimes it becomes impossible to hear ourselves. Inappropriate. Not in this world.
Camino seems to throw this lack of intimacy in our face. It shows us, what we have forgotten about ourselves, what we “sold” it in exchange for benefits, acceptance, out of fear … On the Camino we can start to see ourselves again, the way we are. Because the forest, because the road, because we are alone on it, among all these sounds, movements of leaves, steps of the pilgrim moving through space and time.
There is something strange about this “accompanying” to other people, God and oneself. Something intangible, but very real. Something that everyone feels and misses out. As if we would start to know, that this is something that we’re meant to be part of, because maybe we’ve used to be “there” “before”, because “now” we are experiencing it, because “there” after all – we are heading to.