I have Latitudinarian ideals. I'm open to various religions and views. Until perhaps a few hours ago. I stumbled upon a portent... I found a Scallop Shell. Perhaps it was the timing, perhaps it was the manor in which I found it. But this simple discovery made me question my beliefs and for at least a quick second made me believe in God...ya...the traditional flowing white robe dude that sits on a white marble throne past the pearly gates.
Sorry to drop the "G" bomb!
Anyway...here's what happened.
I'm in Geneva, Switzerland for a few days before I head to back to Spain. I'm going to doing the Camino de Santiago. Its a religious and or spiritual pilgrimage. Its from Roncesvalles (on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees) to the church at Compostella de Santiago. Its a hike. The total distance is around 800 kilometers and if all goes well its takes around 30 days. I'm doing the hike because to tell you the truth it sounds fun. Great scenery, interesting people, a physical challenge and a time to clear my thoughts a charge the soul...so to speak.
Since I'm in Switzerland I thought it would be a good idea to get some training in for the journey. I woke up kinda early and decided to walk along Lake Geneva. The plan was to walk for 3 hours...stop...and then turn around. I didn't have a map, I didn't know really where I was going but I figured if I got lost, no worries, all these Swiss people speak like 9 languages so ill be able to get help.
It starts to rain.
My path takes me away from the lake...I don't know where I am.
I'm getting pissed.
I've been walking for about 2 hours at a brisk pace.
My only company are German cars whizzing by me at 60 kilometers per.
It starts to rain harder.
Walking is getting boring.
Here I am in kinda a miserable state of mind. I actually start to question my entire "pilgrimage". I start to think about the tiresome 783 kilometers that I must walk to complete it. I start to worry about getting lost somewhere in Spain.
What if I freeze? What if I have no food? What if I get lost? If my foot is frozen and gets gangrene can I eat it? These are only a few of the doubts that are lingering.
"Wide open spaces" by the Dixi Chicks comes onto my IPOD. This is funny for 2 reasons. 1) I was listening to my 2Pac play list. Kinda random right! 2) I hate country...why is this even on my IPOD?? For whatever reason I don't change it. I keep listening and it makes me think about Spain and the hike.
Should I even do this Camino?
Right at the height of my doubt, I see something on the pavement ahead. Something white and kinda dirty. I stop. I look around. I'm on some kind of freeway next to a cement wall with a gate going into someones house. No one is around. Only the stupid German cars that keep spraying water on me. I bend down and pick up the object. Why? I don't know! 9 times out of a trillion I'd keep walking.
Its a scallop shell.
Its broken at the top. The rest of the pieces are scattered around. It looks like it fell out of the sky.
I pause for a minute. Another minute goes by. I look around again. No one in sight. I look up to the sky. Its grey. Another minute goes by. I clean off the shell. What the fuck is this doing here?
Someone...I don't know who...gave it to me.
Why do I give a shit about this?
The Scallop Shell IS the religious symbol of Saint James. The Scallop Shell represents all the various paths that pilgrims take, with all paths leading to one point. The Scallop Shell IS the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. The Scallop Shell IS the symbol of the pilgrims that have traveled to the church at Compostella de Santiago for thousands of years.
I was just wondering when I'd get my shell.
Now I have it.