Jacob is an engaging thirty-something bartender from Oklahoma. Walking the Camino is a big deal for him; apart from anything else, it’s the first time he’s set foot outside his native shores.
We start talking one evening over a bottle of wine in the Cistercian refuge in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We gravitate naturally to the transformative power of the Camino which Jacob has already experienced – after only ten days’ walking.
Jacob readily admits that his biggest failing is what he describes as ‘pridefulness’: an unwillingness, maybe even an inability, to ask for help. The Camino brings him face to face with this aspect of his character when his knees give way in Navarrete, and he collapses by the side of the road.
Two fellow pilgrims – an Australian and an Irishman – offer to help him. With extreme difficulty, Jacob swallows his pride and accepts. The two strangers carry Jacob’s rucksack the five miles to the nearest refuge while he limps along behind.
A night’s rest rehabilitates Jacob’s knees and he continues walking the next day, reaching the refuge at Villamayor de Monjardín. He’s just in time to claim one of the last two beds. But there’s an elderly couple behind him in the queue. Mindful of the Camino’s gift to him the previous day, Jacob yields his place to them – even though there are no more beds in the village.
As always, the Camino provides. The refuge owners are so impressed by Jacob’s generosity that they furnish him with everything he needs to pass an agreeable night in the garden while the elderly couple shower him with food, drink and love.
It undoubtedly is more blessèd to give than to receive, but perhaps being more open to receiving enables all of us to give more.
If you’d like to experience the transformative power of the Camino for yourself, our 2015 events calendar is here.