Two thick slices of banana bread sit on a little plate in front of me next to a steaming cup of hot coffee. Black strap molasses runs down the sided of the bread as I try to eat it and write in a journal at the same time. The sun has come up already, but the mountain and I seem to be the only witnesses. It’s Monday and another week of pulling espresso shots, chopping endless vegetables and chatting with customers from near and far awaits. My friends from New York have left after a concentrated weekend of friends, stories and following arrows.
Every month I try to host events related to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage at my coffee shop. Not only did walking the camino last summer lead me directly to Breckenridge, but many, many folks have come to find me there to discuss the Way. Forming the Summit County Pilgrims felt like the natural next step. In June we hosted Annie O’Neil, and in July we gathered for a hike, a potluck, a presentation and a screening of the documentary co-produced by Annie.
Last September, while attempting to gather myself in Finisterre at the end of my camino, I saw paper flyers along the trail for a place called The Little Fox House. It was billed as a refuge for pilgrims who had come to the end of their camino and needed a little support to digest this enormous journey. That was me. It required another day or two of walking, which I very much resisted, but this place seemed to call to me so a few days later I found myself there, with two other women, for the next several days.
Sam, a recent college grad, was watching the house for Tracy (the owner) while she went on vacation. Sam, Claudia and I spent the days cooking, eating, picking blackberries, watching bad romantic comedies, and reading each others tarot cards. We shared the common thread of having found unexpected love on the camino and it felt deeply therapeutic to be able to rehash the whole story. I took a bath. I wrote in my journal. I slept in and took naps. I caught up on emails and drank lots of drip coffee and counted up the miles I’d walked.
We sat around the kitchen table, eating banana bread slathered in peanut butter and tried to wrap our brains around this walk we’d just finished. We wondered aloud how this experience would change us (if at all), guide us (if we’d continue), or influence our life paths (id we’d allow it). Little did I know the camino would lead me to open a coffee shop in Colorado where Sam would come to visit this past weekend in July for our little gathering of Summit County Pilgrims.
Sam and I stood with our backs to the counter at Yellow Arrow Coffee while the last of the potluck guests said goodbye. We shook our heads at serendipity and wondered aloud where the camino would take us next, both of us once again finding ourselves at major crossroads. Even though it’s been a year since my feet touched ground in Spain, I’ve felt the camino loud and strong all the way out here in the Rockies. In fact, the shape and design and vision was very much influenced by the Little Fox House and the fellowship I experienced there. I very much wanted my shop to be a refuge for all you pilgrims out there who somehow made your way to the basement of a library in Breckenridge.
The Camino de Santiago is a place in Spain. But it is also a state of being, a way to live, a special pulsing of the heart. Katy Aceto, one of the presenters this past weekend who just returned from her pilgrimage, said it perfectly. “How can we continue to live the camino in our everyday lives?”
We must and we shall. Join us for our next gathering on August 15 in Breckenridge. Or if you are so inclined, join me in late September through October as I will be leading a small group along a section of the camino in Spain. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are feeling the call.