The Desert Angel


blindmen

I’m only a few late-night conversations from realizing everything I tell you is rubbish. I’m a year out from wishing I hadn’t written anything down. I’m up to wondering if I’m not a blind man who saw, but a blind man who had a dream of seeing.

An extract from Walking Backwards (A journey of a thousand miles on the Camino de Santiago):

“I need to tell you this quickly before my sense of it is gone. I am home again now and something very special that happened to me out there is, sadly, fading. When I was on the road, the most beautiful realizations were self-evident, and now they are elusive and subtle. I find that the way it felt for me out there is not the way it feels for me now. I wonder if I can still do it, still find it, this special thing, I wonder if I can still have it happen. I find new and perhaps better explanations for everything that seemed so straightforward when I was walking along alone. I’m only a few late-night conversations from realizing everything I tell you is rubbish. I’m a year out from wishing I hadn’t written anything down. I’m up to wondering if I’m not a blind man who saw, but a blind man who had a dream of seeing.

And so on.

I confess I’m a faithless and wavering soul, but I still have a pen and a conscience and a memory. And while I still believe the tiniest sliver in a god I might pray to, I will share what felt so obvious to me at the time, this dream of the blind man. Because it would be utterly faithless not to communicate it, a kind of spiritual cowardice not to own it. Because it was a grand experiment, this unpacking of everything, and this thing I need to tell you is the one sure thing I could tell you from my time out there in the wilderness. It was the ten-week takeaway. It was the one thing where I said this is true and I didn’t know this before and now I do.

I actually walked along for weeks and thought about how I would share this beautiful discovery, telling everyone, telling you, perhaps, in particular. And what a beautiful, lovely and true message this is to come home and share! I felt a joyful privilege to have seen and felt it and known it to be true. So to second-guess it now and bottle it up, well, it would be unforgiveable. This truth was a hot coal pressed to my lips by some desert angel, and if I do not write it down, it will be lost forever, most tragically perhaps from myself, and I may need this truth someday.”  – From Chapter 8 “Minor Miracles” of Walking Backwards (A journey of a thousand miles on the Camino de Santiago)

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