I have written in the past about my penchant for homesick feelings.
Of course, I feel them most often when I am away from home.
One of my biggest fears about walking the Camino was that I would feel alone, sick for home; a dark melancholy familiar to my heart.
I shared this with my friends, my fellow travelers.
They knew that though I requested a single room at our various hotels, I - at the same time - feared the experience of existential loneliness.
At the first of many small inns along the Camino, our host, as she was handing out the room keys, asked innocently,
"Who is the one who will always be alone?"(Marcella - La Casona de Sarria)
Marcella had no idea this simple question would cut to the core of my deepest fear.
She had no idea this was part of the internal baggage I had carried with me across the ocean.
All she wanted to know was which one of the weary travelers in her lobby requested a single room for the two nights we were staying with her.
For a moment there was a stunned silence as my friends and I pondered this question.
And then, timidly, but with building confidence, I raised my hand and said,
"Me. That's me. I am the one who will always be alone."(Alice)
And I had a hearty laugh with my friends.
We mentioned this conversation numerous times on our journey.
It reminded me afresh that God has a sense of humor as he keeps an eye on us all.
And it reminded me that even the darkness of feeling homesick has a silver lining.
"We knew it, even then, as the opening of a wound this world cannot repair --
the first birthing of that weight every soul must wake up to alone,
because it is the burden of that wild and lonely space that only God in his eternity can fill.
And as we wait, this sacred, homesick sorrow works in us to cultivate a faith
that knows one day, he will.
That is the holy work of homesickness:
To teach our hearts how lonely
they have always been for God."(Douglas Kaine McKelvey)
The amazing thing is I never once felt lonely or homesick on the Camino.
"The one who will always be alone" realized she will never be alone.