The invisible "Welcome Pilgrim" sign is lit up, and they´re rolling in, these travelers. Just enough. Just the right kinds.
Federico the Guitar Guy is here. He brought along Esperanza, a beautiful guitar custom-made for The Peaceable, all endowed with ebony scallop shells and tiny staffs and some really amazing woodwork. It is a very fine gift, for us and for the musical pilgrims who stop.
So now we have a Paracho del Norte hand-built guitar. Neither Paddy nor I knows how to play a guitar, much as we might enjoy listening to them being played. Esperanza was inaugurated by Miguel, a Thai pilgrim who stayed here Sunday. We all sat out in the patio after dinner and enjoyed a skillful series of Brazilian Bossa Novas!
So if you´re a guitar-playing pilgrim, come by here. You´re in for a treat. I will post photos soon as I find the camera.
The other big treat in the past 24 hours was another Fred. Frederic is a homeless guy, a French pilgrim who stopped by a couple of months ago on his way to Santiago. He now is on his way back, traveling on foot, and looking for work. I recognized him by his remarkable nose -- it is neatly folded over to the right, as if he´d pressed it too hard against a cold window when it was still small and malleable, and it stuck that way. My mom was always warning me about things like that happening.
He´s a rough-looking guy, Frederic, but there´s something childlike about him. He speaks very little English. (We have even less French.) But a tattoo on his arm reminded me he´d started his camino at a L'Arch Community in France. L'Arch -"the ark"- is an international Christian group that helps disabled and recovering people get their lives back together. Its charter says, "In a divided world, L'Arche wants to be a sign of hope. Its communities, founded on covenant relationships between people of differing intellectual capacity, social origin, religion and culture, seek to be signs of unity, faithfulness and reconciliation."
Wow. That is a ministry I can believe in, and gladly support (although I draw the line at tattooing its logo on my arm!). Add that to Frederic´s Iron Man handshake and Popeye physique, and the ugly fact that our hen house door is falling off. Someone had to fix it. So...
Me and the two Freds set about working in the afternoon heat, and got a remarkable amount of work done:
hunting down tools, (scattered over four different working areas);
wrestling the concrete mixer into the hen yard,
dismantling and re-mantling the door,
tracking down a door-worthy timber,
ordering sand and gravel and concrete,
watching the delivery guy burn up his clutch trying to deliver the sand and gravel and concrete,
starting some laundry,
pouring and troweling and finishing concrete,
etc. etc. Very dull work if you´re not in there doing it.
It was too much sun. Too many chickens and dogs were underfoot. But finally we got two uprights in place that will likely stay vertical for at least a couple of years. Frederic proved himself extremely strong and nimble. He worked like a dog, except the dogs I know who have never worked a day of their lives. At sundown the chickens went back inside their hen house. We went inside our People House. Paddy made an early dinner, and everyone was fast asleep by 11 p.m.
And this morning, Frederic collected his wages and a bunch of food and his backpack and clean laundry, and headed east. He blessed us. He told me to look up Luke 9:48 in the Bible.
This evening I did that. (yes, I still have a Bible, and I know how to use it.)
And in Luke 9:48, Jesus says,
"Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."
So who knows what Frederic is, in the greater scheme of things? A little child? The Least of These? Another angel, maybe?
I think I may see him again.