I am overflowing with joy right now so I’ll let it fill up a blog post in hopes that it can bring you some joy as well.
My joy was tapped by a phone call, one that I missed, half an hour ago. It is from my friend. Yes, I am actually thrilled even though I missed his call. He has been suffering with health issues for the past few weeks and specifically over the past few days. I hadn’t heard from him in a few days so, with the help of the internet and the interestingly old-school habit of his pal keeping a land line, I was able to locate a mutual friend through the white pages online, someone I haven’t seen since the mid-90s. We had an enjoyable phone call and with the humor typical of our mutual, ill friend, he explained the situation to me. As we spoke, our friend was on the upswing and “head and shoulders” above where he had been the day before.
This friend had an incident on Saturday which was very very bad, but I am told he is now recovering. I was unaware of that. Our last conversation was on Friday night.
I look at my silly texts from the past few days: links to articles about the demise of couchsurfing, photos I sent of bloated lakes above Texas, increasingly concerned texts as mine were met by silence. Finally, last night, a text sent with tears in my eyes telling him I didn’t know when he would read it but that I wanted him to know that we were thinking about him. I wondered if it would be days or weeks before he go around to being in touch again. So, you can imagine my excitement when I see that he called me about half an hour ago. I don’t know what it will be like to talk to him. Over the past few days, I’ve had sentimental thoughts, funny thoughts and disbelieving thoughts at the health issues he is experiencing right now.
He’s the one who talked me into walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2002. He invited me in about 1999 and I blithely RSVP’d yes, hoping he’d forget about it by the time 2002 rolled around. Well, he did not forget about it and I found myself flying to Spain to meet him 13 years ago this week. Our plan was simply to “meet in front of the cathedral in Leon” on a certain date. He sat in a bench there every hour on the hour that day until I made it to the spot. My over confident Spanish caused me to accidentally buy myself a one way ticket to “Avila” when I was trying to say “A Leon” so that caused a beautiful, mystical delay traipsing around the land of St. Teresa for a few hours. Anyhow, we met on that bench and took off walking. He, already a veteran of a few weeks on the camino, told me some of the lore and uncharacteristically beheld a butterfly with much sentiment as it flew by. Myself, a newbie on the trail, chuckled at his sweet observations of the butterfly and found myself shedding the following within 1 mile of setting off:
-giant lonely planet guidebook to Spain
and some other stuff I don’t recall. When you start lugging your stuff around you quickly realize we can live without most of it.He had lots of stories to tell me already and described the hostels where we’d be crashing on floors and bunks among elderly French bicyclists who, it turns out, will strip and change clothes right in front of you with no warning. And so began our first few hours of our adventure together. It is the hardest physical feat I’ve accomplished in my life. We swore to one another that we would not permit the other to take up that endeavor again in the future. I’ve been invited and tempted a few times but I remember our shared vow, shared in the midst of new, camino-caused ailments and exhaustion. We laugh about it now. We chuckle at any quote calling life a pilgrimage or whatnot because we know that the pilgrimage is different when you arrive on an a/c bus in a town for a few hours vs. when you’ve walked it, schlepping your same two outfits and journal over hill and over dale, over the river and through the woods, through amber waves of grain (and hops) and arrive at your destination, weak-kneed, tired, sweating, sore, hurt, thinner, hungry, thirsty, unwashed, smelly, collapsing in a pile in a pew and crying for all the things you ever forgot to cry about in the past, for all the things you feel at that moment and for all the things you may have to cry for in the future, just in case this was your last chance to cry.
So, I’ll continue to inundate his phone with texts and in the meantime I ask you to storm heaven with prayers for his speedy recovery.
Update: He is out of the hospital and back home. Please continue prayers for his recovery.