Truth is bird-like. It sings beautifully. It can fly south for months at a time, and you don´t notice it
until it´s not there any more. It is known to "lay an egg" now and then. Truth can twitter sweetly all morning, and then poo on you from a great altitude.
We are dealing with a big, heavy Truth here, ever since I came back from the Camino trip. If this Truth is a bird, it is an ostrich or emu, or maybe a bustard.
Malin and David, our trusty friends, were here when I got home, working their tails off in the pouring rain. I jumped in and helped David pour concrete and reset the fencing in the chicken pen. We shifted the remains of last year´s firewood to the other side of the woodstore, and ordered in more. The three of us moved that and stacked it very neatly, all in a single afternoon, just before the rain began again.
We hung up the Franz Kline prints in the pilgrim salon. We cleared and cleaned and got the car inspected. We said goodbye on Friday, when Malin and David went off to Palencia to busk with their guitar and ukulele and marionettes. On Saturday, Paddy and I helped clear up the Plaza Mayor during the annual tree-trimming -- this year we planted a line of chestnut saplings! We loaded up the back of our car with long switches cut from the plane trees. We left them in the car overnight.
There they breathed out their green breath and steamed up the windows. When I moved the car round the the back gate to unload them into the wood store (the wands make good kindling once they dry out) the car was perfumed. It smelled like February, the best kind of February -- like something green and living buried very deep beneath the cold.
There was no Mass in Moratinos this week. We went instead to Terradillos and worshiped with the neighbors -- the few who were not in the street outside. Sunday was a boar-hunting morning in Terradillos, and dozens of flourescent-clad gunners with their car-trunks loaded with hound dogs were hanging round the streets, waiting for the fog to rise. You cannot hunt in the fog, it´s illegal, Mauricio told me. I wondered. I have seen many, many hunters out in the fog in recent mornings, some of them shouting that it´s illegal for me to be out there with my dogs! Go figure.
We drove toward home. On the camino just outside town I felt a big bolt of pain in the left side of my chest.
I´d felt the same bolt about halfway through the camino last week, about halfway up a long, long hill. It took my breath away. I am having a heart attack, I thought.
And so, long story short, we went to the medical center, and from there to the hospital, with a stop in between along the road so I could have a cry. I was poked and tested and scanned and x-rayed. In the wee hours of Monday morning the doc gave us the news: No heart attack.
Asthma has left me with an enlarged heart, but it is in great shape, along with my blood and bones and food-digester. But sometime in the recent past -- probably at San Andres de Teixido, where I took a spill in the rain -- I tore some of the muscles between my ribs and my breast-bone. Hauling wood and concrete and tree-limbs in the following week didn´t help the healing. A couple of months with no heavy lifting and I oughtta be just fine.
I was very glad to know I was not dying. We went home and slept all day.
And woke up with this big feathered Truth Bird nesting in the middle of the kitchen table, squawking an awful song.
Truth is: the last couple of caminos I´ve done have kicked the tar out of me physically. Much as I love walking caminos, I must reconsider my wandering ways.
Truth is: It´s been a tough Winter for both of us, health-wise. I can´t go away for longer than about ten days, because this place requires heavy work on a daily basis. Paddy cannot keep this place going on his own. He cannot drive the car, haul the firewood, handle all the dogs. (The man who was going to take little Ruby Dog in May has backed out. We have SIX dogs now.) The pair of us can never go anywhere together, and going seperately is becoming increasingly difficult.
But we have to go. Our families need us sometimes, and our families are in England and the United States and way down south in Malaga.
Truth is: We don´t get so many pilgrims any more. Winter used to be our busiest time of year, but in the past month we have had exactly five pilgrims here.
We are not so useful any more, pilgrim-wise. We are here and equipped with goodwill and food and beds, but if the pilgs choose to go elsewhere, well... Maybe we should consider other options.
What are those?
Even if we don´t take pilgrims, we need help to keep this place going.
If we keep this place going.
We need an architect.
We need a caretaker, friends, funds to build the far end into a place a caretaker can stay.
And maybe a vision. A new one. A purpose. A ministry, maybe.
Or just some wisdom.
(If I was me, I´d tell myself to walk the camino til I got an answer.)
But please, no more Truth. Not for a little while.
I am not sure my heart can take that.