Jo reflects on her last day at Emmaüs:
Looking down the road, sitting reading by the front gate, I am reminded of the Prodigal Father: Will he come? When? How will he be? How long have I got to wait? Somehow it is being available that mattters. Not only here, but generally too. Yes, I feel I may have something to offer other than drinks and visits to the toilet – and sometimes it is right to offer the possibility of prayer, or the T.S. Eliot poem, or the picture of the Emmaus story. It is amazing how many people have not heard that story. Many have said how they appreciate the fact that someone would volunteer to sit, waiting for pilgrims. ‘The pilgrimage is in the heart’, someone said, so I am a pilgrim too.
I have been reading Pope Francis letter, Evangelii Gaudium, and have been especially touched by paragraph 279: ‘Sometimes it seems that our work is fruitless, but [it] is not like a business transaction….. It is not a show where we count how many people came as a result of our publicity, it is something much deeper, which escapes all measurement’
Pilgrims have many reasons for being on the Camino – a love of walking and nature, a love of meeting others from different countries, something to escape from, a need to think or get to know one’s self better, a decision to be made, a need to be alone.
Jo reports for the last week:
Sunday was a very encouraging day with sixteen pilgrims coming in for drinks, chat or a visit to the toilet. Five were from Lille, and two from Brussels, one of whom had just retired and planned to walk all the way to Santiago, thinking about the next step in her life. Many older pilgrims say something like this. Younger ones seem to be looking to escape from stress or to get to know themselves better. We met a young man who had set off from Germany and was hoping to get to Santiago in October – very fit. Then there was the young woman from Ireland who was delighted to find someone who spoke English. So were we! Our conversations are bits of English, bits of French and bits of sign language, but something seems to work. We have been able to have Mass and evening prayer each day this week. One of the neighbours came for Mass on Monday.
With the arrival of our new volunteers, Jo and Stephen, morning Mass has been celebrated in the tent since 14th August (and will be for the next few days), instead of the usual Morning Prayer. For a change, the house and garden are also full of music!
We also received a lovely appreciative postcard today:
Après notre retour du Pélerinage de St Jacques nous jetons un oeil dans le rétroviseur pour savourer les moments d’accueil que nous avons vécus. Merci encore de donner au marcheur l’occasion de s’arrêter pour prier…..
Family departures today meant that we didn’t manage our usual Morning Prayer. But about half an hour later a lovely couple came along and prayed in our chapel. So there was Morning Prayer after all.
More generally, in recent days the number of pilgrims passing by seems to be picking up again.