This is my third day of walking the Camino along the Mosel River. Wherever I go, I’m a stranger. Speaking the language helps keep disorientation in check. This morning I covered 13 K in two hours, level terrain, barely a hill to slow me down (just arrived in Cochem, about a 1/5 from the top, at left). Walking on asphalt for a few Ks looks easy but is hard on the feet: they heat up and the body has to absorb more shock with each step. It occurred to me — as it has on previous walks — that I could fall or trip along a remote stretch of forest and no-one would be the wiser. Hours go by without another soul in sight. In a way this is dying practice. Everything “important” has been left behind in Canada; nothing I can or have to do about everyday busyness — I’ve taken myself out of circulation. Without a cell phone or fixed address, I cannot be reached. There’s no internet access in villages and since I stay in private ” room for rent” homes without paper work and cash transactions, I leave no paper trail.
One thing I have been doing is to practice kindness along the way. Wherever I go, whoever crosses my path, I endeavour to look at them bid them the time of day, approach them with an open heart. “Unless we practice loving feelings toward everyone we meet, day in, day out, we’re missing out on the most joyous part of life” writes Ayya Khema. It’s much easier to look down and walk past strangers and even if some don’t respond. I notice a gradual letting go of expecting to be rewarded for my greeting. I simply greet and acknowledge the other’s presence. Occasionally someone else initiated contact. As I sat on a church wall this morning, keeping my distance from a group gathering for a funeral procession, an elderly lady (older than I am 🙂 that is) came up from behind and said, “Wer rastet, rostet” … If you rest, you rust. We both smiled; brief contact, never to meet again, leaving behind a little taste of our humanity.