There can be little suspense as to what happened next – Iggy became a priest. He was very glad, it having been such a lengthy accomplishment, to finally arrive. (But do we ever truly arrive?)
Eager to minister and to preach, Iggy gathered a group of his buddies from seminary. They wanted in on some of that ever popular Holy Land action. There was a crusade, and money was flowing out of Europe as the tides off the coast of Normandy (proper reaction: whoa! That´s pretty fast!).
Iggy and his fellow priests were poor (he’d given all of his money away during that incident with the nakedness at the shrine of the Virgin Mary). They had no sponsor. So they waited…and they waited…and two years later they were still waiting for some money, or a kindly ship’s captain, to help them make the passage – no dice.
Eventually, they trickled in to Rome, as a group, to apply to the Vatican for ministry…
‘Butterflies are beautiful, and flowers smell nice, and cows have pretty eyelashes… wow it’s hot! I mean, that’s a really cute slug, and it is on a Camino of it’s own and I send it lots of love – shit! really! Gahhhhhhhhhh’ There was another hill, with a trail winding it’s way out of my sight, before me. I was crossing the Pyrenees, with barely mustered grace and very little ease.
I’d been talking myself into enjoying things for at least an hour. The thinnest my cheer had been was when an Italian man carrying what had to be a 10 pound dog practically ran past, with no apparent effort. He smiled and waved ‘ciao!’, his massive pack clunked a little like a cow bell…I hadn’t seen him again.
Staring at, what had to be, the sixth endless ascent of the day, I was a bit discouraged. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to make it, and I’d just run out of water…
‘Hola!’ said a bright male voice from behind me. I pasted on my smile, and was prepared to return something polite.
‘Bloody Hell, not another one,’ said the voice.
‘That’s exactly what I was thinking!’ I turned, truly amused.
Kal. Kal from Nottingham. Kal who gave me his orange juice. Kal who, in a very fatherly way kept reminding me that this wasn’t a race, and that I could go slowly. Kal who said, ‘Did you see the Italian? With that dog? Do you think he’s planning to carry it all of the way to Santiago?’ I laughed, I smiled, I rested, and at the top of one particularly grueling uphill climb I threw myself dramatically upon the grass and just lay there.
‘You really do pick the best spots to rest, m’ dear!’ I cracked my eyelid and looked toward the foliage overhead. Kal was taking a seat, unhurriedly, about 3 feet away. He gestured in the direction from which we’d come.
Through a break in the trees, a narrow valley spread out below. Mountain overlapped mountain into infinity, and there was even an eagle (or perhaps a vulture) soaring beyond.
The rest of the day went very well indeed, and as we parted at the abbey of Roncevalles that night, I had made my first Camino friend.
Blessed are you, the pilgrim, who realize that to find the way slowly together is to find what cannot be found quickly alone.
~ Beatitudes for the Pilgrim