Camino Stories: On Iggy, and that which we do not expect…(numero cinqo)


Communidad RSCJ: Zabaldika, Spain

The Chief Padre in Rome really liked Iggy.  His formal name was Pope Paul III.  Iggy and his fellows formed the Societatus Jesu, and the Chief gave his blessing.

 Iggy was pleased with his group.  He was interested in getting down to some ministry and the teaching of what he had discovered all of those years ago while convalescing.  His brothers wanted him to be the superior of the order.  (I suppose that’s what happens when you’re popular and accomplished.)  He asked that they reconsider, and hold a second vote – same result.  So, Ignatius (I really must stop calling him Iggy) took office.

 My oh my the paperwork, the paperwork, and the bureaucracy!  It’s a wonder that he had any time for himself – definitely none for teaching, and yet his legacy is of learning.  His group grew and spread their ministry throughout the world – they are known as the Jesuits.  During his lifetime he wrote more than 7,000 letters.  People who have read them, say that he gentled and grew in love as he aged and worked.  It is perhaps apt that his plans remained plans, that his accidents bore fruit, and that he really did prefer to eat that fruit with others.

 Eventually, his youthful attempts at Sainthood caught up with him, and he passed on to whatever comes next (and of course, performed his posthumous miracles to become a saint).  That, my beloved friends, is the story of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.


 ‘oooh’ I poked the blister on the ball of my foot.  I thought that maybe one was fine, normal, the way of the way…I was nearly convinced, and it wasn’t really a blister, just a soft spot…that hurt when I poked it…

 The previous day had been my second: Roncevalles to Zubiri.  It had been lovely.  There were hordes of pilgrims.  I had chatted with a French couple, and my new German friend Petra, and the older Swiss man Bruno.  Then there was the English guy that I had my Camino crush on – he and I had leapfrogged and made small jokes to one another for most of the day.  Finally, he’d caught up with me and said, ‘you’re quite hard to get alone, little miss congenial.’  We’d walked and chatted our way into town where he’d split for the bar, and I’d headed for the albergue.

 Many people had begun their journey at Roncevalles, those of us who’d come from St. Jean were all a bit sore and slow.  There was a great picnic atop a hill in the shade, 15 people, unrelated, sharing food, shade, and a view.

 We reached Zubiri, crowded into their bars and restaurants, and fell asleep early.

 Now, as my fellow pilgrims bustled around me in the grey of the following morning, I felt weariness drag upon me just a little.  I laced my not-quite-a-blister into my boot and hoped for the best.

 There are stages to pain, I’m sure that you’re all familiar.  There is the twinge – not so bad.  There is the ache – getting worse.  There is the shot – this can be borne, but is often accompanied by cursing due to its surprising nature.  Then comes the radiation – yes folks, it’s spreading.  After a while, there is what I like to call ‘the beyond’ – pain disappears a little, and you think, ahhhh, good, it’s over.  Then there’s the going numb and the getting tired – to your bones.

 I know you’re all wondering why I kept going (I wonder as well.)  I went through all of these stages over the first 17k of that third day.  I hardly saw a thing.  I hardly said a thing.  I just tromp, tromp, tromped my way through the Basque countryside.  When I awoke I had brought myself to the foot of a very steep goat-track.  It’s base was populated by cyclists in bright racing uniforms with shiny, bug-like sunglasses, staring at the crazy lady – me.

 I don’t know what possessed me, (there was a sign for an easier route which was flat) I went straight up the goat-track.

 When I reached the top there was a high stone wall and at it’s corner a yard of glorious cool shade, and green grass dotted with daisies.  I sat, and ignored the lady sitting by the door of a church, through which my fellow pilgrims were wandering.  She did not ignore me.  As I fumbled wearily with the knots of my shoes she approached me, knelt before me, and watched as I peeled back my socks.

 Thirty minutes later, I and two other pilgrims, were having out feet tended to by two Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Betadine dripped dark brown trails across pale white skin, needles and thread were drawn through blisters, and Compeed patches were applied…for the other two pilgrims.  My feet were another story.

 About 10 minutes after they’d done what they could for me, and offered to drive me to the medical facility in Pamplona, my stubborn butt was walking down the sun drenched hill back to the Camino, 8k  more.  I had grabbed an apple from my pack, hoping that food would help.  I sank my teeth into the apple, took a step, winced, stopped, and noticed that the valley was blurring before me.

 Tears were running down my cheeks, and my heart felt like it was breaking, so I chewed on my apple and wept myself into turning around.

 At the hospital in Pamplona I was told, by two doctors and a nurse, that my feet were badly inflamed.  What had seemed to be one blister had become deeper tissue damage.  I was ordered to be off of my feet completely for at least 5 days, and not to walk any distance for at least a week.

 I was shocked.  The nun who had driven me – Marisol, shuffled me out to her car.  She drove, and I feebly attempted to suggest that she drop me at the nearest hotel.  She used her Catholic firmness and said quite flatly, ‘No.’  When I suggested that she drop me at the nearest albergue, she said, ‘No, no, you are staying with us at the community. They cannot care for you there.’

 I could feel the warm wet, and my throat was closing in grief and confusion.  What would I do if I couldn’t walk the way.  What…was I going… to do?

 ‘Lindy, my dear, you are in a difficult situation,’ said Marisol quietly.  She shifted the car into a higher gear as we entered the highway. ‘Do not worry.  There are many ways to discover the way of your heart’s work.’

 I had forgotten.  I had told her, told myself, that the reason I came to Spain was to find my heart’s work.

 She smiled, and my face contorted in a sob.  Patting my knee, she said, ‘Have you ever heard the story of Ignatius of Loyola?  It is not that long…’



One response to “Camino Stories: On Iggy, and that which we do not expect…(numero cinqo)

  1. Lovely! I like how both stories circle around and meet one another. I myself am searching for my heart’s work and it is comforting to be reminded that it is ever present. I need only be still and listen for my instructions.

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