February 16, 2004

At the Edge of El Ouribio

After passing Triacastela take the road to Samos which will take you to one of the most hidden countryside of the Camino. You will find there the Galicia you were waiting for, the most regional, the most frequent: water, chestnut trees, oaks, ferns, solitude. Silence barely interrupted by the mooing of cows, and the vehicles on the highway that, on the other side of the vegetation, confuses. It seems as if road and river unite, connect: both ending in the sea.

You have already been walking for many days and so many deep and mysterious things have happened to you that you feel like a new person in some ways the same, but in a certain way radically different from the one who started to walk without knowing very well why or for what reason. You know that something new has been born within yourself. It is a good time to celebrate the ritual of renewal through water and spirit.

Look for a quiet place next to the river where you can get into the water. Listen to the singing of the river, listen to the river’s song. “Our lives are rivers…” Think about the water; it is the origin of life. It makes up three-quarters of the planet, of living things, of your body. It also represents death because the creative waters of life are also the waters of death. However, the death that happens in water is never definitive because the water is full of forms of life and in it life reappears in regenerated forms. So, submerging yourself in water is to go toward death. The dissolution and disintegration of pre-existing forms is going on and that creates a new phase of reintegration and birth. This is the significance of Christian baptism. “Baptism represents death and the grave, life, and the resurrection… When we put our head in the water as in a grave, the old man stays submerged, completely buried; when we come out of the water, the new man simultaneously appears” (San Juan Criostomo).

With these thoughts, stripped of everything, you enter the water, involving the force of the Spirit of God. The negative forces stay dissolved in the water. Feel within yourself the sprouting of new strength, the values lived on the Camino: silence, the encounter between yourself and God, moderation, poverty, gratitude, genuineness, welcoming, sharing, companionship, connectedness with the land, the sun, the wind. The life that exists outside the cycle of consumption, competition, the almighty dollar, the life for which we need few things, except heart and a new spirit.

Now, out of the water, facing the sun, slowly intone the Creed since the strength of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is how the thirst for an authentic life originated within you.

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