Saturday, June 8, 2013

remembering Isodoro, an hospitalero on the Camino de Santiago


I walked into the albergue at Hospital de Órbigo limping, as usual. After checking in and getting my Pilgrim passport stamped, I went straight to the bunk bed, took off my boots, and put on sandals to let my blistery feet air out

A man wearing a name tag that said Isodoro saw me walking across the courtyard, nodded, and smiled. After washing and hanging our wet clothes in the back patio, Pat and I went off to find a meal at a place that had been recommended.


Pat washing clothes in the back patio

Hours later, we came back and discussed weather and details about the next phase of the Camino with Isodoro, the main hospitalero. Pat returned to the bedroom, and I remained outside, taking time to write in my journal:
"We are staying in an albergue run by the parish here. It's old and medieval (used to be a pilgrim hospital!) and quite rustic in its accomodations. There's a tiny kitchen, two very uncomfortable showers--but a very good feel to the whole place. There's a beautiful courtyard where everyone gravitates to and chats, and there's a beautiful painting of Santiago [St. James] heading up the mountain--just as we'll be doing later this week! 
As you come in, there's a memorial on the wall to the martyrs and holy people of the 20th century: Romero, Kolby, Edith Stein!, Gandhi--and a sign at the bottom that reads:
Yo soy el Camino, la Verdad y la Vida 
[I am the Way, the Truth and the Life]
We are in a small [bed]room with huge beams--with a wooden ceiling that feels very cold.  
Right now I am sitting in a small chapel by the courtyard that has a statue of a baby Jesus with its sacred heart exposed, an image I've never seen before... This is a holy place.
Lord, I surrender my feet to you. I give you my blisters, my pains, my aches, my soreness, my strenghth and my lack of it. What I am to walk must come from you. I know that I can not do this. I can't fix it. I can't carry it. I will not make it. Make my feet yours, Jesus--I trust you will do it."
inner courtyard at the albergue, 
Hospital de Órbigo

As I walked out of the chapel, Isodoro walked across the courtyard, coming to find me. "You're having trouble with your feet," he said in Spanish. I smiled in response. "Here, let me see," he gestured, inviting me to sit down. I hesitated. Is he really asking to look at my feet?

Isodoro patted his lap and waited, sitting across from me. I timidly placed my left foot on his legs, and he gently put his hand on it, reaching for some sort of a nursing kit he had nearby.

For the next few minutes, in my own personal holy washing of the feet, this stranger who didn’t even know my name patiently doctored both of my feet. With the greatest tenderness and attention, he cleaned, mended, and laced each of my blisters, including two huge blisters on my heels, one new from that day’s walk.  

“I am the WAY… no one comes to the Father, but by me..
And whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do,
that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it…
I will not leave you comfortless:
I will come to you.”
~14 chapter of the Gospel of John