Saturday, June 18, 2011

Leaving Rocks In A Hard Place

There is a tradition on the Camino of leaving stones - stones pilgrims carry with them throughout their journey - at Cruz de Ferro, a five meter tall bare trunk topped with an iron cross. A pilgrim's stone can mean many things. It can stand for a loved one they desire to make peace with or let go of. It can be a painful past they wish to come to terms with or move on from. Or it can be a part of themselves they hope to change or cast away for the better. Whatever the significance, it is not the size of the stone that matters, but HOW it matters to the pilgrim.

If I had known of this tradition, I would have picked up my stone in Arles, France, where mom and I began our journey, as it means something to carry the weight with you the entire trip and have it then relieved at Cruz de Ferro - no longer a burden to your spirit, as well as your physical body. Yet although my rock spoke to me in a tardy fashion, I look forward to laying it down tomorrow. Inspired by my mom's triangular shaped rock and the meaning she gave to each side - one for those living, one for those departed and one for the pieces of ourselves we wish to say goodbye to - I would like to take the time now to get a bit personal and divulge my own three sides. The three sides that tomorrow will find a new home nestled amongst an international family of remembrances, memorials and dreams.

I don't wish to focus, however, on what I will leave behind, but on the parts of each person I will cherish even when I have said my 'ou revoirs'.

Departed Goodbyes...

Grandpa Glen: The way you could fix anything, and with such grace and skill one would hardly remember after that it was any other way. And for proving, in your life with grandma, that true love really can last forever.
Grandpa Amos: Your quiet generosity that was never boastful but always aplenty.
Cousin Amy: Every game of dress up, every night spent giggling in double beds until the wee hours, every mud castle built, every choreographed pool extravaganza performed, every elaborate blanket fort and every five course meal shared at grandma's with eyes bigger than our stomachs.
Sophie: Your no-nonsense risk-taking, your wonderfully disturbing sense of humor and for unapologetically relishing in flights of fancy. And, of course, for sneakily turning the clock ahead 10 minutes in religion class.
Uncle Bob: That incredible laugh at the dinner table and for having the courage to love even in the hard times.

Living Goodbyes...

Past Love #1: Your limitless creativity, your strength and optimism, and the way you allowed yourself to be vulnerable to love.
Past Love #2: Your easy going nature, good humor and acute fun radar. Stress never found a home in you, which in this modern age, is a true blessing.
Past Love #3: Your adamant belief that everything always works out. And your willingness to take a risk for love.

Blackheart Goodbyes... (i.e. the personality traits I appreciate but must leave with my stone)

Cynicism: A comedian needs a dose, but my cup overflowith. Time to tip some out for the homies.
Lack of Faith: You may keep me humble, but time to stop doubting and keep writing. My day will come!
Control: You keep me organized and focused, but time to give some of you up already! Turned my back on you along the Camino and look what marvelous things unfolded.
Insecurity: Again, great ingredient for comedy, but it's time to believe I'm lovable. Sort of like that cute cat with the blue eyes that begged for food today. Sure, it had mite infested ears and mange, but man was that lil' sucker lovable!
Perfectionism: The writing needs it, but I don't always. Imperfection is another word for unique. (You have permission to quote that.)
Blackheartdom: The moniker stays - it's badass - but the attitude could use some softening. New love can't come knocking if the door is surrounded by electrified barbwire.

Astorga to Rabanal del Camino.

View of a sleepy Astorga out our window this morning.

Camino mosaic.

Lizzie and Red walking through the traditional Maragatos village.

The village has some great nooks and crannies.

Pilgrim souvenir stand.

A miniature version of tomorrow's stones.

Entering Rabanal del Camino.

Woven pilgrim in our lovely stone abode.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Rabanal del Camino, Spain


  1. THIS is my favorite post!!! You are an incredible woman, Tess, and it's about damn time you recognize it! Your strength and perseverance have always amazed, and exhausted, me. You truly are a special soul and you make the world a better place to live in. Party on, Wayne!
    xoxo Manders

  2. You're making me tear up, Manders! Thank you so much for the kind words. Love ya and can't wait to celebrate 30 years of Blackheart together!