The Journey Begins

February 20th, 2015


Here at this beginning, be there delight or be there grief, may grace come to greet you and keep you company in the way you go. ~Jan Richardson

Arriving in Porto, Portugal with carry-on luggage in tow, Dana, my traveling companion, and I wandered through the airport a bit bewildered and jet lagged in search of an information desk. We spotted a glassed-in room near the exit to the airport that seemed to be what we were looking for. A small, sturdy, Portuguese woman in her mid-sixties greeted us when we walked through the sliding door, clearly happy to have a customer. She pulled out a plethora of maps, bus and train schedules, and flyers advertizing the highlights of the city. Apparently, the historic district was not to be missed. When I asked about where I might obtain a Passport for the Camino she directed me to the cathedral at the center of town and drew an “x” on the map where we could start our walk along the harbor the following day. As we gathered the maps and left to hail a taxi she smiled and said, “Bon Camino.”

Her words startled me as it began to sink in that I was really doing this – walking the Camino was no longer just an idea in my head. She was the first to speak the familiar blessing, “good journey,” and I was grateful for her well wishes. Once outside our taxi driver loaded our bags then began weaving his way through the city streets as we headed towards our hotel near the center of town. Along the way we passed ornately tiled walls that adorned the faces of ancient buildings, capped off with deep orange tiled roofs. Hanging laundry draped from the balconies above, clipped to the rails with brightly colored clothespins– red, blue, yellow, and orange, added to the color and texture of the Porto architecture.

Once at our hotel, the desk clerk greeted us with two glasses of port the favorite local drink, and escorted us to a delightful outdoor courtyard. We sipped on the rich sweet wine and let ourselves arrive – really arrive. Relaxed in our garden chairs we soaked in the warmth of the sun on our shoulders and breathed in the moist coastal air, giving in to our travel fatigue. It felt good to sit and I became aware how important it is to allow time for arriving.  In fact, arrivals mark the beginning of something new and set the tone for the journey ahead.  Ah, what would it be like to stop rushing through my life, accomplishing the many tasks on my to-do list and instead pause to notice each place, each person, each moment, each beginning.  Already the pilgrimage was working her magic on me as I settled into a more spacious and slower sense of time.

Questions:  How do you arrive to a new place or new season in life, to your home, to each day?

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