Robert Ward

Keep our love for her in front of us (pg 186) Keep our love for her in front of us (pg 186)

For much of the way from Saint-Jean to Castrojeriz, the path rises, falls, twists, narrows. There are roots and ruts to watch for. The only safe way to gaze at the beauty around you is from a full stop.

But here on the meseta the road is wide, smooth and straight. There’s no need to look down when you walk. It takes a while for that fact to sink in. Through my first hours of meseta walking, my chin kept sinking when I lifted it, as if it were weighted. I didn’t trust the earth not to throw something in my way. It’s only today that the weight is gone and I can walk with my chin up and my eyes forward, following the racing clouds, observing how the tone of the sky is different in every direction, wondering if the three flickering pilgrim forms I have seen in the road ahead for the past hour belong to anyone I know. My eyes graze the surface of the world as my mind grazes from thought to thought…

And then out of nowhere comes the prayer of the Irish woman that I read aloud in Tosantos. I stop in the road to find it in my little black book.

“Please pray for my mother who is slipping into the darkness of dementia. Give us the strength to be patient and understanding and keep our love for her in front of us.”

Keep our love for her in front of us – as though the end of the journey were not Santiago, but love. Maybe in the end it’s not a place we’re walking towards, but a state of being – health, happiness, love, forgiveness, transcendence, peace – always discernible on the horizon, like the grain silos of these meseta towns.

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