Signs or Coincidences…

I remember back in 86 and 88 when I was pregnant for the girls, Steve and I seemed to think that there seemed to be so many pregnant women around us. When I bought my silver leaf Sunfire, it seemed every 4th car was a Sunfire.

So, do we tend to notice more things that are pertinent to us during specific times? Or are there times when the coincidences are too strong to consider them mere statistics?

I’ve started walking with my hiking boots bought specifically for the Spain Camino. I planned many routes around the house, used the car to get the appropriate distance so I could keep track of my cumulative kilometers, and chose a combination of hilly streets, flat roads and everything in between.

Some of the routes I’ve walked often, or at the very least, driven them often. Three nights ago, I followed a 10 km route and wouldn’t you know, right there, on the ground, were two large yellow arrows. Quite similar to those on the Camino indicating directions. How strange to find these in our neighborhood. I’m not sure what their purpose is, but suffice to say I couldn’t walk past those without taking a picture.  These are typical Camino arrows:

This is my Barrhaven arrow (note my boot to show it’s really me!)

So coincidence? likely… or is it some sort of sign? How many yellow arrows did I walk by and never noticed? I can tell you, I sure am noticing them now!

 I noticed that many of the pilgrims who have written about their own journey on the camino speak of a spiritual journey. One where they discovered many things about their own belief system, their thoughts about a higher power, their life struggles and good times.

Some speak of meeting people who somehow seemed to have some very unique and deep guiding messages or discussions. Some speak of unique interactions with other pilgrims or local folks that marked them in many ways.

For those who believe that these types of pilgrimages are true time spent with a higher power  seems to feel that the camino itself with daily passages through old towns, churches, crosses and somewhat ecclesiastic locales offer a more intimate exposure to religious thoughts. Others who may not be of any specific faith, speak of a metaphysical journey, of spirits but not specifically of theological attributes.

Some say they started their journeys with no expectations of any transformation, yet returned changed. I haven’t determined what I expect out of this journey.  I admit that my soul is a bit tired with much of the last year’s emotional roller coaster. There have been endless amounts of joy and love, but also difficult relationships and connections.

I certainly can use some quiet downtime with nothing else but the sound of my feet on the ground, the sun in my face, the wind in my hair, bird songs and the smell of sweet wild flowers. I also look forward to being in churches that have been around for thousands of years…

I feel I need to start with my first ever Camino step, and the biggest open mind and heart that I can have. I need to listen for sage words, kind messages, inspirations, revel in the nature that will be my constant companion for 6 weeks.

I need to listen to others, more than speak. I need to keep my mind open to all types of ideologies, customs, traditions and honor the places I will call my home, be it for a meal, a place to sleep, or a place to rest.  I plan on using my camera very often. Sometimes the pictures I think I take, evolve into something quite different when I see the finished product. Seeing things through my camera lens pushes me to look for details I otherwise may not have noticed.

And whether this next happening is a mere coincidence or some form of sign is truly up for grabs. I am thinking it’s something that is an important part of this journey. When I lived in Spain during the summer of 77-79, I had a special friend for the three summers. Luis lived in Cuenca, and short of a note here and there after the last summer, we lost touch.

Given my upcoming plans, I quickly thought I should “google” Luis just in case I might find some of his family members etc. I truly never expected to find him, as my last information was that he has moved permanently to Valencia.

I found a series of YouTube videos of him at a lectern, presenting sermons. Turns out Luis is now Pastor Luis and has been for the past 22 years. He is the lead pastor at the main Church in Cuenca. Two of my friends immediately mentioned that given his vocation, he very well could be part of the spiritual journey. A guide of some sorts!  I have to mention that we have not seen each other in 32 years.

I am fascinated to discover how his journey brought him to where he is today! If we do meet, I will be interested to hear his views on the Camino and so many other subjects. I planned on going to Cuenca to “relive” a bit of my old memories, but with a much older and wiser mind. I want to walk the same streets and remember 30 years ago how funny we must have looked running down the cobbled stones in our bare feet, high heels in hand and praying to get to the convent in time before the doors locked at 1 AM.

I want to sit at the Plaza Mayor and remember us having cafe con leche and discovering our math teacher from college walking down the mainstreet with a pack on his back! I want to sit in El Meson restaurant and admire the casas colgadas (hanging houses) and drink wine from a porron.

Meeting Luis was never on my list, as I really never though he would be there. Now, I feel I need to at least meet for a coffee, or lunch and just catch up… and keep a open mind to whatever he may say that could provide me with more food for thoughts, guidance or just good conversation.

It is coincidence that I was able to find him after all these years? Maybe? or is his pastoral life something I can learn from? I’ll have to keep an open mind…

I have 43 days before my first step – -until then, you will find me trekking everywhere, and paying a lot more attention to details, and coincidences… or signs!