Friday, 7 August 2015

Surf's UP!

It's said the some 2,000 years ago, a man walked on the surface of the Sea of Galilee, during a storm bad enough to panic a lot of experienced sailors in boats floating nearby. The sea-walker invited one of the boatmen to step out onto the waves, too.
"I can do it if you ask me to!" the man shouted. So the sea-walker said, "Come on, then!"
And the guy did it. It was so amazing, so unreal! He was walking without sinking down... no visible means of support! A miracle!

I often feel like that guy. I see miracles going on around me, especially when the sky goes dark and things go wrong, or at least things don't go my way. I live in a miraculous place, and I have a good eye for simple providential beauty and sudden truths and weird coincidences and overnight cures. We are a good match, me and the camino.

I am not saying that any miracles happened here lately. But there are storms of a sort. Busyness. Bustle. A hospitalero at San Anton walked out on his two-week volunteer slot, two days into the gig, leaving a single person to run the place on her own. The builders finally finished up here, and Alan Neville, a missionary priest from Ireland, moved in on the 1st of August. His room is lovely, and he has good things going, ministry-wise: Mass each afternoon at the church of San Pedro in Terradillos, and an open church each morning here at Sto. Tomas in Moratinos. He is a positive addition, wonderfully Irish, but running a daily ministry changes our routine substantially. Good things are happening, but even good things upset the rhythm.

Oliver is back from San Anton -- he spent the entire month of July there. Here at Peaceable he is helping to move heavy things, mopping floors, and cooking cooking cooking in a wondrous way -- homemade mayonnaise, anyone? He is great to have around, but he is around. Another soul in the house.

Maybe I am too committed to my rhythm, and my solitude. It's not all about me.

The kitten is now named Norman. He and Momo play-fight together, and run down the upstairs hallway after one another. Neither of them weighs more than 2 kilos, but they sound like bowling balls rolling around up there. Norm is cute, but he's loud and high-maintenance. He poops in the house plants, which is disgusting. The greyhounds will eat him if they can. Mo has taught him how to climb onto the roof out back, but he's not taught him how to climb down. Norman stands up there and yowls til one of us rescues him. It's funny and cute, and is becoming a pain in the ass.

The sign explaining the bodegas is written and designed and is on its way here from a sign-printer. I want it to be in place in time for the fiesta at the end of the month, so people can see our Asociacion Cultural has done something in the last year! (and pilgrims can have an answer to the question they all ask when they roll into town: Are those hobbit holes?) I need to make up an annual report, and schedule a general meeting, and tell the treasurer how much money I spent in the past year. Paperwork. Accounts, and accountability, and all of it in Castellano. OMG.

The fiesta is a three-day affair, a long weekend that starts with Friday. Me and Paddy are scheduled to leave here Sunday morning of that weekend, for a long-delayed holiday down south. Lots to achieve before then. I hope to God no one else drops out of the San Anton rota in the meantime. I am already patching things together over there...

The kitchen installer came today and got to work in the little kitchen. So far, I really dislike how it's looking. I am trying to reserve judgement, but that's not easy.

The storm blows around my ears. It's pretty much a self-made maelstrom. I signed up for it, so I cannot complain. I stepped out of the boat a long time ago, stepped out onto the water, my eyes glued to the vision that said "Come on, then. I'll take care of you. Just step on out."

It works pretty well if I don't think about it. But then the wind hits me. I feel the water soaking my pantlegs...

I am not cut out for executive duties, even the unpaid, invisible, do-gooder kind, any more than I am suited for walking on water. What will happen if I don't do enough, if I don't succeed, if no one is willing to pony-up his 10 Euro dues again for the Asociacion? I don't have any startling new ideas... What if I blank out on the Spanish and no one can understand me? What if the Chaplaincy program is a bust, and we don't get funding for next summer? What if none of the kids at the fiesta wants to build houses out of straw and sticks?  Paddy has a cough that won't go away, it takes his breath away, makes it so he cannot even speak... what is it? Why can't the doctor fix it? What about my son, his career? What about Tim, his arthritis? My mom's health, my sisters? The pilgrims, the hospitaleros... What about ME?

And that's when I feel myself sinking, and the waves smack me down, and the water rolls over my head. I start having nightmares in my sleep about tornadoes and locusts and car accidents, things all beyond my control. And I know, all over again, that nothing at all is within my control.

I can do all I can, but nothing is under control. I am not the center of the universe. If I vanish tomorrow, the universe will not blink.

And so I stop thinking. I let go. I do the jobs that need doing, but then I let them go. I instead do the things I know feed my spirit. I scruffle the dogs. I drive over the autopista into the Promised Land, over to a little stream I know there, with trees applauding overhead. I let myself cry a little, when no one is looking. I ask for help.

Like Peter screamed, out there in the deep water: "Save me, Lord!"  Like the Allman Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis, the angels and archangels and the heavenly host all shout together with me, I shout "Lord, have mercy!"

And at some point, the storm calms down, and the hands reach out, and somehow I am back again in the boat, wondering why the hell I do these things to myself.