I intended to leave early and get to Puerto Irago - Cruz de ferro early. It is a place of significance and I wanted a photo of the sun rising highlighting the meaning. As I started in the dark it was cold but ok. As I climbed the 600m in the Forrest and on loose stones it became harder. It became misty and much colder. It began to dawn on me the meaning of the place. You place a stone and let go of all your sins. I don’t have to do that since I’m already forgiven through the finished work of Jesus Christ. But I knew I had to lay my stone. I had taken from home one of Linda’s heart shaped stones that she loved to collect. Probably to make it into an art piece.
Could I do what I had to do?
As I pondered tears welled up in me.
I had to do it, no I couldn’t, yes I could.
My thinking of the romantic, dawn light and warm day began to fade. The mist got thicker and it grew a lot colder. The top is at 1500m which is higher that the pass in the Pyrenees at 1400m. As I drew close my hands were numb I was wet and there were a whole bunch of pilgrims there already.
The romance was gone all that was left was reality.
I put on my coat for the first time.
I took out Linda’s stone, my stone, our stone.
I held it tenderly in my hand and climbed the hill of stones. I knelt and prayed and floods of tears poured out. One pilgrim put their hand on my shoulder, to comfort and enter in and then they moved on to their reflections.
I carefully lowered our stone to the ground and placed my hand on top and cried some more. The stone was not just a stone. I wasn’t leaving Linda on this hill or even leaving her on the Camino.
I was leaving all the pain of the past year.
I was leaving the pain and the grief and the loss.
I was leaving the pain and broken heart and loneliness.
I was leaving the pain and the wishing and the unknown future.
Linda will always be with me in the memories we made.
She will be with me in our sons.
She will be with me in their families.
She will be with me the grandkids.
She will be with me in the friends we made.
But putting down that stone leaves the pain on that hill. Jesus was led up a hill to take all our sin and pain and suffering.
I can trust Him as I leave our stone, that he will carry me through.
I walk down the hill at sit on a little church step and eat apricots and more tears flow.
I pack up and climb the hill once more and touch that stone one more time and walk away down the long path descending into the valley below. Not looking back but knowing my load is lighter, my burden is easier and my back pack is the same weight as before, with one less stone.
Linda, I love you and as I walk into an unknown future I will remember you often and trust my Lord and saviour to keep me on my new journey ahead.
If you have a burden you want to lay down, you don't have to wait to do the Camino. You can bring all you burdens to Christ righ now. Lay them down and ask for forgiveness or help. He's always waiting for you to come.