(Keeping my pledge to write thirty-four blogs on how walking the Camino keeps impacting my life, the same as the number of days that I walked this 500-mile pilgrimage.)
On Day 27 of my Camino, I was in the mountain village of Ruitelan at an albergue where the owner had left his successful restaurant in southern Spain to provide hospitality to pilgrims. He told us people are nourished in both body and soul by a good meal. And in that spirit, he set a table where everyone of us could sit, lit it with candles, and served with a meal that indeed nourished us body and soul. Despite the fact that we were speaking many different languages, we were speaking the language of a common humanity that night by the warmth we created–the language of those who are kind to one another, who support us on our journey, and give of themselves for others. Some even sacrifice.
Tomorrow night I will serve a meal for twenty friends or family or so. I feel teary-eyed just thinking of being with them as we have for so many years– the children are now the parents and we the grandparents. From generation to generation. We have all changed over the years and explored life differently in some ways. But we gather at Christmas because over the years we have been kind to one another, we have supported one another, and we have given of ourselves to each other, sometimes sacrificing to do so. It is a great thing to have received such love. To have sat in that joy.
I think of that hospitalero tonight. I think of the care that he gave to the table, to the meal and to our welcome. And I thank him. And I intend to pass it on in a slightly different way than I have on past Christmases where we served a buffet and people found places to sit around the house. Somehow I will set a long table where we will all sit down together. My son will sing “O Holy Night”. I will offer a prayer. And we will join in our common humanity. I believe it is a way that the Christ would feel welcome, a love that He came to reveal, and a time to live out the one commandment that he gave: love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
My little Camino is to keep opening that table in my heart as I learn more and more about being in common humanity with each person I meet on walk on this earth. That all can sit at the same table. That I learn to understand their language and they mine. It won’t be simple or easy. But I do know we are not separate, and we are all walking toward home. Christmas revealed.