Tuesday, 21 July 2009

If This is a Dream Please Don't Wake Me...

Friday 10th July: My feet seem to have decided to approximate water balloons. It is a good excuse (not that I needed one: I am part of the family now) to stay another night. Although I was still not allowed to do anything which involved standing, neither Fernanda nor Charlotte could do anything about my pulling weeds from the flower garden in front of the house. When I explained it was therapy, Fernanda withdrew her objections but dashed into the house and came back with a blanket for me to sit on and a really serious gardener's hat.

Fernanda, her mother and Charlotte set to digging up potatoes on an industrial scale. I had the luxury from my vantage point of watching them: Fernanda with the pickaxe, "Mum" with the wheelbarrow and I marveled at such hard working people in this part of the world, especially, it would seem the women.

"I am on holiday," shouted Fernanda. She works at the Post Office. In the afternoon I decided to jettison as much as I could from "Penance" my mocilla. When I weighed it at the Alameda in Compostela it was just 8 kilos. But since then I have added my old shoes (bought sandals in S de C and forgot to leave the others in the car), shampoo, water, my El Pais/Aguilar guidebook (excellent even if you don't speak Spanish). Now it was just too heavy. I was surprised by how much I now felt I could leave behind.

By lunchtime, three more people had arrived: a family from Barcelona. The first thing that mother and daughter did was to turn themselves upside down in a gravity defying yoga position just in front of me and my again levitated feet. The husband (I learned he was Manuel, and they Engracia and Eva) decided that I needed to soak my potato feet and a large bowl was produced and filled with cold water, vinegar, salt, and wild mint in which I stayed in perfect bliss while everyone else did their thing around me.

I hoped I had not encountered a group of cannibals on the Camino and this was their way of marinating me prior to the feast. This was by no means alleviated when Manolo told me to remove my feet and proceeded to wrap them in cabbage leaves. I was almost hysterical with laughter: was this to be part of the stew along with me! Once unwrapped, said cabbage leaves were inspected very carefully and having found nothing, feet were declared OK. I never did find out what all that was about but I was glad to find out that I was not on the menu that night!

Lao Tse says: "If you are to be reborn, let yourself die". I studied Chinese philosophy for my Masters many years ago, and I was to find this in the John Brierley guide to the Camino Portuguese that Fernanda showed me. I spent the afternoon reading and found a lot that I certainly agreed with. Brierley says that returning from the Camino may mean a paradigm shift not only for ourselves but others around us: "...our colleagues may not always appreciate this fresh perspective," he writes. He goes on to say that we have impoverished ourselves spiritually, "severely limiting our potential".

Our experiences on the Camino de Santiago allow us to find our way home. "We hold the key to our self-made prison," says Brierley. I am reminded of Revelations 3:20, the only bible verse I know by heart: Behold I stand at the door and knock..." Someone once said to me: "Don't forget: the key is on the inside."

Charlotte seems to feel that she can confide in me. She tells me of a painful and ongoing physical problem she has which seems to have worsened over the last two weeks. "I can't get my mind off it". She asks if hypnosis would help. I say that yes, I think it might but I invite her to tell me a bit more about herself first. Obviously I am not going to go into detail, but what she told me gave me an immediate insight into the cause of her pain. There was a psychosomatic element which brought Louise Hay to mind (You Can Heal Your Life) I said after dinner I would take her into trance.

Dinner was simple and excellent and so was the wine. Engracia said she was 50 and Fernanda's eyes almost popped out of her head. "What skin cream do you use?" she said. I wanted to know too: Engracia had that alabaster skin that novelists write about but few of us have ever seen. She came back with a tube of Echinacea cream. Her husband said it was also genetic and the yoga and good nutrition. But Fernanda still wrote down the name of the cream!

As a clinical hypnotherapist the best reward for me always is the look on the faces of my clients when I bring them out of trance. Charlotte was no exception. She seemed to have lightened and I could see that good work had been done. I knew she would sleep well. And so would I.

Now I know why I didn't walk with the others to Ponte da Lima. It wasn't for me that I stopped here, that Fernanda met me in the street...

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