One of our best memories along the Camino was stopping at this small church
This phrase was written on a stamp we received along our first leg of the Camino de Santiago. It became the stamp we would routinely flip to and reflect upon for the remainder of our Camino. We received it from a little church called Igelesia de San Esteban (Church of St. Stephen) located above the road in Zabaldika. Many pilgrims passed by the church without detouring to it. One of our pilgrim friends said, “I can see it from the road so no need to walk up!” It’s true. You could see it from the road but sometimes things that are right in-front-of-your-face turn out to be the best surprises.
After a sloppy walk through a river area, my husband asked which route to go; the lower river route or the high route. I figured I was here to see and experience everything. The little churches and chapels were there for good reason. They were the placed along the camino as a place of refuge for weary pilgrims so up we went!
We hiked up the hill (it really wasn’t that bad!) and were greeted by the sweetest old woman. She was chatting with a local when we approached, but her friend quickly said goodbye so she could take care of the passing pilgrims. She warmly welcomed us, encouraged us to enter the immaculate church despite our muddy boots, took a picture of us in front as a keepsake, and gave us the stamp to our credencial (pilgrim passport). The stamp simple read “Una pausa, en el camino” or “a pause, on the Way.”
I don’t think there was a better phrase to describe this small church. It was a pause on a pilgrim’s journey. One that many passed without stopping. It is also a constant reminder that those small pauses, or moments, tend to create the best memories. We were so glad we paused.
Looking tired and exhausted after hiking in rain for several days
She also gave us what became one of my most cherished keepsakes from the Camino. A simple prayer, Our Father For Pilgrims, and the Beatitudes of Pilgrims. These two pieces of paper were beautiful reminders of our journey.
The Beatitudes of the Pilgrim:
1. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the “camino” opens your eyes to what is not seen.
2. Blessed are you pilgrim, if what concerns you most is not to arrive, as to arrive with others.
3. Blessed are you pilgrim, when you contemplate the “camino” and you discover it is full of names and dawns.
4. Blessed are you pilgrim, because you have discovered that the authentic “camino” begins when it is completed.
5. Blessed are you pilgrim, if your knapsack is emptying of things and your heart does not know where to hang up so many feelings and emotions.
6. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side.
7. Blessed are you pilgrim, when you don’t have words to give thanks for everything that surprises you at every twist and turn of the way.
8. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you search for the truth and make of the “camino” a life and of your life a “way”, in search of the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
9. Blessed are you pilgrim, if on the way you meet yourself and gift yourself with time, without rushing, so as not to disregard the image in your heart.
10. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the “camino” holds a lot of silence; and the silence of prayer; and the prayer of meeting with God who is waiting for you.