Sigur Ros – Ísjaki
There was a night, between the towns of Hontanas and Fromista, that was the clearest picture of heaven I’ve yet experienced, a sure divine appointment. It was already a miracle day, as they all became in the end. But this one began with my not believing I could walk four kilometres, let alone twenty-four. At the end of the day we hit a wall, our bodies at once refusing to cooperate, and while I was having trouble finding the albergue, K was crawling a few blocks behind me in tears. Around the corner walked our angels, three aging Italians in Boy Scouts costumes – clearly fellow pilgrims. As miracles would have it, they offered us beds in the hostel they ran. This thirteenth-century refuge had been caring for pilgrims since it’s construction, and there were tears and smiles of gratitude at their hospitality. The feast they prepared for the twelve of us was unparalleled, their kindness and compassion unforgettable. And that night fifteen people around a table, with wine and bread and open arms, became a family despite cultural, generational, and linguistic barriers. This, to me, is what heaven is like.
What took my breath away, though, and what slammed me in the face with the love of Christ, happened before the meal, before the candles were lit or the bread torn. Those three dear hosts washed and kissed our feet – our wounded, bandaged, infected, overused and undervalued feet. It was a tradition they had held for centuries in that haven, one we continued that night as they read in Italian and Spanish from John 13 how Christ did the same for his disciples. I turned away as tears dropped from my chin to my shaking, clenched fists. I’ve never been so sure that God’s name is Love.
We laced our hikers and shouldered our packs the next morning amid hugs and photographs, one sweet host (who incidentally looked like Santa) handing out chocolate truffles. We turned face to the route ahead as they were still waving in the distance, feet not yet fully functioning and Advil not yet keeping me from limping. But my heart was lighter than it had been in weeks, more sure than ever that this is where we belonged. And there was no more fear in me.
“But you aren’t ‘most people.’ Grace has happened to you. Look at your feet. They are wet, grace soaked. Your toes and arches and heels have felt the cool basin of God’s grace. Jesus has washed the grimiest parts of your life. He didn’t bypass you and carry the basin toward someone else. If grace were a wheat field, he’s bequeathed you the state of Kansas. Can’t you share your grace with others?” – Max Lucado
(Image via Flickr)