Kyrie Eleison

Kyrie Eleison
Brian Zahnd

Six months ago I walked across Spain. Five hundred miles.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Forty days and forty nights.
A full life with two full moons. Harvest and Hunter’s.
Heat and cold. Dust and rain. Wind and calm.
It was all there.
Beauty and blisters.
Ecstasy and exhaustion.
Pleasures and pains.
Mountains, forests, and plains.
Spaniards and Germans.
Americans and Russians.
Brazilians and Peruvians.
Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese.
They were all there.
I was all there.
Every step of the way.
A million, three hundred thousand — give or take a few.

I saw my life. The Camino was my life. My life compressed to forty days and forty nights.
A five hundred mile walk of life. A precise (or at least an approximate) reflection.

What I do well in life I did well on the Camino:

Do it right and on time.
Get up in the morning, walk the hard road down.
Catch a glimpse of beauty here and there.
Ponder, muse, and formulate some new thoughts.

What I don’t do well in life I did poorly on the Camino:

Too impatient.
Too much in a hurry.
Too much in my own head.
Too many opportunities missed.
Too many people seen as too many people.

That was the greatest gift of the Camino. To see my life as a whole and make an evaluation. To live and learn. And what did I learn? About a dozen things…

That beauty is worth more than anything except for love.
That pain does not invalidate the bequest of being.
That to be in a hurry is a great folly — life will rush by fast enough.
That what may seem inconsequential, you would dearly love to relive.
That you should suck the juice out of every single moment.
That joy is made mostly of memories so make lots of good ones.
That kindness is a million times more valuable than winning.
That treating life as a competitive game is laughably stupid.
That we’re all in this together and you’re only as great as the help you give.
That treating life as anything other than an extravagant gift is sacrilegious.
That God is everywhere, filling everything with God’s glorious God-self.
That when we reach the end, our greatest desire is to go back and do it again.

And I probably will do it again.
The Camino de Santiago, that is.
I can go back to St. Jean and do it again.
But I can’t go back to my birth and do it again.
So I’ve got make up for lost time by adjusting on the fly.
Make adjustments before the final stamp is placed in my credencial —
Before being told, “Your Camino is finished.”

Kyrie Eleison.


(The photo is from the Camino — somewhere between Villamayor de Monjardín and Torres del Rio. The shadow is mine; Peri is up ahead.)

Mr. Mister

The wind blows hard against this mountainside
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches in to where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road
My heart is old it holds my memories
My body burns a gem like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again
Kyrie Eleison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison where I go you will follow
Kyrie Eleison on a highway in the light
When I was young I dreamed of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have traveled down my chosen road
Or only wish that I could be