Coming out of Zubiri was a long morning. By 11 AM with no cafes in sight, it was clear that the snacks we had purchased in a local tienda the evening before were going to be much needed. And, between us, we had almonds, oranges, crackers, apples , a banana, dark chocolate ( we ALWAYS had dark chocolate bars) …. A mid -morning feast as we perched on a ledge along the cafe wall….closed, of course, on that particular Monday.
Along the path we had passed an elderly Korean woman, someone we came to know by sight throughout the remainder of our camino. She chose to carry her her large pack with the waist strap un-cinched. The weight on her shoulders must have felt extraordinary. She was stocky and strong; small in stature. Coming upon us , and I do not even recall how we knew she was without proper food and water supplies for the long path of that morning, we knew she was hungry.
And, as pilgrims always do, we offered to share our feast, which she gracefully turned down. A bit of coaxing though and we were able to convince her it was perfectly okay, we had plenty and wasn’t sharing part of the camaraderie of the Camino after all? She agreed and happily sucked orange segments, munched almonds and crackers, and savored that beautiful chocolate. She chatted ever so briefly, then was off, pack weighing heavy over her shoulders.
The next day, walking through a magnificent glade of woods, we came upon her again. Excited to see us, and after the prefunctory ” BuenCamino! ” greeting, she stopped us and offered us all a share of her salty potato chips. ” Salt is important on this walk” she said. The remarkable moment was this:
As she passed the sack to each of us, one by one, she bowed person to person and thanked each for the portion of the mid -day snack they had provided the previous day. “For the orange” to Ed, ” For the almonds” to Guy, ” For the crackers” to Paul and ” For the chocolate” to Liz.
I recall being so deeply touched by her gratitude and I am touched again now as I write of this lovely woman.
Lesson:Never, ever believe that the smallest measure of sharing does not count immensely in the eyes and heart of another.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Elliott and I attended the same Writer’s Workshop in Chicago in March, but we didn’t cross paths there. We first ‘met’ when I shared information with these writers about my Guest Voice feature. I wish now we had gotten to visit in Chicago! I’m fascinated by her story – and her stories. She spent over 30 years in hospitality management before discovering long distance walking in her mid-fifties. The story above comes from her walk of 833 km on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain in 2014. You may learn more about Kate and read her blogs at Www.walkingwomanwalkingwithkate.blogspot.com.