Gifts of the Season

The trucks are rolling through the gate. And not because we have ordered stuff online.

One of the blessings of 2021 has been all the amazing people we have met. Yes, moving to Galicia has meant new neighbors and friendships. And I am grateful we have been welcomed to the community with mostly open arms. But it’s bigger than that. Even in the midst of the pandemic.

As most of you know, last summer we opened briefly as a free Albergue campground. We offered the weary and bed-less Pilgrims tents, and I cooked dinners and breakfasts. Just while Albergue capacity was so low that peregrinos slept on the street. It was a highlight of our year. And we were grateful we had the opportunity.

The people who stayed here were so grateful they often left us notes or even returned with gifts. One day in late September, there was a knock at the door. A family I remembered who had pitched their own tents in the front yard after all our others were taken, had returned. They‘d made Paolo Santo incense and brought me bundles – thanking me profusely for helping them with food and water on that very hot August day. It touched me more than I can say and I light a stick when I paint. It makes the house smell like a cathedral. Blessing my endeavors.

Now here we are at Christmas. For most people, July, August or September are in the rearview mirror. Their Camino might feel like a dream by now. They wonder if it was real. And Jeff and I would be just another anecdote. Those people who helped me that one day. But now, I’m not so sure that’s true.

Christmas cards from strangers have arrived. Boxes of goodies. And today, beef jerky all the way from Texas. What wonderful surprises.

We all like to believe we make a positive impact on the lives we touch. That people feel good when they spend time with us and take that feeling with them when they move on. Often, we never know. We just have to hope it’s true. But then there are the moments when you get an opportunity to see it. And it makes you smile and remember.

I said it at the time, but we have gotten more out of that short stint as an Albergue campground than we ever gave to our Pilgrims. A hundred times over. A lesson for us all that it truly is better to give than to receive. Like a pebble in a pond. Receiving this card today from a Pilgrim friend is the same. It likely took the sender moments to address and pop in the post. But her thoughtfulness made a huge impact and she will likely never know how big. A welcome gift on a stormy day in December. Especially today.

5 thoughts on “Gifts of the Season

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