Lock-Down Thoughts from Santiago

Sitting here in was meant to be my ‘winter flat’, but now looks like it is becoming my spring and perhaps even summer flat, I try to organize my thoughts and get my head around this new reality. It all happened so fast …

When I started ‘house hunting’ beginning of the year, my prayer was always “Lord, show me the place which you have in mind for me, the pilgrims and the Camino Chaplaincy.” I didn’t realize that he had already done so and that the answer to my prayer had been already given: “You are already where I want you to be.”

The church of Santa Susana might be empty now, but it will be waiting for us …

Beginning of March I was literally a day away from signing a rental contract for a nice, big and expensive flat for the volunteers and me. I woke up to the fact that numbers of infected people here in Spain had doubled over night. I looked at the growth rate and did some simple math to see where things would go over the next two weeks if that continued. I first postponed signing and then decided not to sign at all. I stayed put.

The following days were very busy, stranded pilgrims needed help finding a way to go home. None of them stayed with me, this wasn’t a time for leisurely hospitality, it was a time for urgency.

  • Urgent to convince them that, yes, this is real and that they had to go home by any means possible ASAP.
  • Urgent to translate and transmit information to the different online groups I am a member of.
  • Urgent to accompany pilgrims to the airport and help them re-booking their flights.

That kept me busy until the last day before the lock-down started. Now I can only leave the house to take the rubbish out or go shopping for essentials. Police and military is patrolling the streets of Santiago to make sure everybody stays home that hasn’t a very valid reason to be outside. The homeless have been sheltered by the local government and the last pilgrims have holed up in Monte de Gozo where they get help finding their way home.

So, suddenly, there wasn’t anything I could do to help … Apart of praying for pretty much everything and everybody I know. For the safety of my friends and family, for the chaplains and volunteers as they face the challenges in their ministries at home, for the pilgrims still in transit to their homes, for the hospitaleros that own albergues and face now a very uncertain, financial future, for whatever and whoever else comes to my mind. Because there is not much else I can do to help, apart of praying and staying at home.

So, if you want me to pray for you too, have a look here: https://egeria.house/let-us-pray-for-you/ As I have become an involuntary hermit, I have plenty of time to do so. And I will do it with joy!

Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the Camino have a lot in common.

We pilgrims often used to joke that we suffer from the incurable and very infectious ‘Camino Virus’ and that the only treatment is to walk another Camino … Now we are all facing a very different kind of virus …

Over the last few days I realized that the Camino has taught me a lot of things that come in very handy at this time:

  • You need less then you think you do.
  • Any food is good when you are hungry.
  • Basic things like water, food, a roof over the head are appreciated.
  • The company of others is important, and as we can’t meet in person anymore, we meet online, using messenger apps or simply ‘see’ each other on Facebook.
  • Nature is important: My two houseplants, the trees before my window, the dawn choir of the birds.
  • The kindness of strangers, the waving at each other from our balconies, the cheerful “Hola!” shouted at each other from a distance, the smiles are like the Buen Camino! we pilgrims used to exchange.

Ritual and keeping a structure is important. Here in Spain we are all clapping from our windows and balconies each evening at 20:00 as a symbolic Thank You to all that work in healthcare.

On our Caminos we were united as we traveled alongside each other towards Santiago.

On this Corona Camino we are doing now inside our own homes we are united even if we live apart. It is a very different Camino from the one we are used to:

We can’t meet in person and walk together as pilgrims, for the moment, but we can still stay connected, take care of each other and support each other in this ‘Corona Camino’. We can now use every single lesson we have learned on our Camino and apply them at home.

It is time we take our Caminos home, into our communities and live as stationary pilgrims with kindness.

Stay safe wherever you are, stay at home as much as you can and yes, pray for us here in Santiago and in Spain as I pray for you.

Buen Camino de la Vida (Safe/Good Journey of Life) and yes, one day we will meet again and we will celebrate life together and in person again.


10 thoughts on “Lock-Down Thoughts from Santiago”

  1. Thank you for your beautifully composed thoughts and words. Thank you also for your service and at present your prayerful service. Sending blessings and love to you and all those impacted fiscally and medically by the virus along the Camino, as well as all the inhabitants in Spain.
    Joseph Handman

  2. Dear Sybille,

    Thank you for the up date. You and the other people in Spain have been in my thoughts and prayers. I light a prayer candle every night for you all.
    Keep safe
    Maybe now next year I will meet you.

  3. Dear Sybille,
    Thank you for the update. We stand in solidarity with Spain, pilgrims everywhere, and all of our brothers and sisters around this our fragile island home.
    Our joyful prayers join with yours on a daily basis. We will pray especially for you, the Anglican Chaplaincy and all in Santiago.
    Buen Camino de la Vida

  4. Sybille,
    Such words of wisdom. There is much to learn from this and many opportunities to grow in faith and help our neighbors. Praying with joy indeed! You, all my friends in Santiago, all the pilgrims, indeed all of Spain are in my prayers.

    Love in Christ,

    Mike Savage

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