Sunday, 1 August 2010
I’d go today
C/ Estocolmo, s/n (entrance by the C/ Moscú)
Parroquia de San Antonio de As Fontiñas.
It has only been opened for two weeks and is already proving popular. The day that I visited my friend Danny, one of the hospitaleros, he had opened the doors at 11.30 as usual and by 12 noon it was full.
Susana, the secretary of the Archicofradía shared their vision of developing church premises along the routes to provide facilities for albergues. True to that objective this new albergue is built on the ground floor of the church of Saint Anthony, the local parish church in the Santiago barrio of Fontiñas. Pilgrims will be welcome at the early morning services to be held each day.
There are 8 dormitories of 24 beds. I was worried that there are no windows but the building is fully air conditioned and the pilgrims I spoke to were unconcerned.
As I looked around I thought about how simple a pilgrim’s needs are. A bed, a shower, and somewhere to wash and dry clothes. Everything else is a bonus. This new albergue is very simple and functional and ticks these boxes.
I thought about how different that is from my life at home with all of the clutter I’ve collected around myself. The familiar material things which make me feel secure. Every time I’ve moved house I’ve been astonished at what I’ve gathered...and what I don’t actually need. For the last few years I’ve tried emptying my wardrobe of everything I haven’t worn for a year. I even found that difficult. Separating my needs from my wants has been a life time project.
All that changed when I went on Camino. On pilgrimage we have to live with what we carry. It isn’t a lot but it becomes all we need. These thoughts reminded me of Philip Larkin’s Poetry of Departures. If you don’t know it, I commend it to you. It could have been written for pilgrims:
Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,
He chucked up everything
And just cleared off,
And always the voice will sound
Certain you approve
This audacious, purifying,
And they are right, I think.
We all hate home
And having to be there:
I detest my room,
It's specially-chosen junk,
The good books, the good bed,
And my life, in perfect order:
So to hear it said
He walked out on the whole crowd
Leaves me flushed and stirred,
Like Then she undid her dress
Or Take that you bastard;
Surely I can, if he did?
And that helps me to stay
Sober and industrious.
But I'd go today,
Yes, swagger the nut-strewn roads,
Crouch in the fo'c'sle
Stubbly with goodness, if
It weren't so artificial,
Such a deliberate step backwards
To create an object:
Books; china; a life
Oh yes, give me the choice anytime between my reprehensibly perfect life and spending more time on Camino where I feel my life becomes more authentically perfect. I’d go today.