When has the kindness of a stranger saved you from being lost?
One morning on the Camino I called ahead to inquire about an available bed in an albergue I hoped to reach by the end of my day. The hospitelero who answered the phone asked, “How many pilgrims?” I realized he meant me; I was no tourist, I was a pilgrim. And like pilgrims who have gone before me I was learning to rely on the kindness of strangers and Camino magic when I most needed it.
What do I mean? It was still quite dark when I set out on Sunday morning leaving town on the dirt path that led me to the Laguna - a place where witchcraft had been practiced since the 16th Century. I kept walking as the dense mist over the water obscured the path until I looked up to see that I was lost - in an industrial area - shuttered for the weekend - a few chained dogs who lunged and barked. I was quite lost. Now what?
And truly - out of nowhere appeared a man in dirty coveralls. I asked him “Donde esta la camino?” He vaguely waved toward a dirt path uttering some words in Spanish, one I recognized: fabricante (factory). After taking a few hesitant steps I turned back to thank him; but he was gone. Just gone. I kept walking another 30 minutes in the direction he had signaled until I found the factory, crawled under a chain link fence, tumbled down into a ditch, scrambled up the other side, crossed a 2-lane road and there it was: the small familiar blue and yellow sign with the scallop shell; I was back on the Camino.
Here’s the thing: when you feel like you are quite lost, hold it with both hands and trust. Trust that the kindness of strangers will show you the way.