Hospital at Tosantos
A “Hospital” along the Camino de Santiago in Spain is not the same as our literal English translation – a place sick people have surgery and get ICU care. But it is, and has been for hundreds of years, a place along the Camino where Pilgrims may stop for care and rest. Care for wounds of the heart, or of the body (mostly blistered feet and aches of muscles and leg joints), are their main focus.
Like the Hospital I stayed at in the church bell tower at Grañón (separate post), I purposely set out walking this day in hopes of staying at the Hospital at Tosantos. On arriving I queued up behind four other pilgrims who had arrived before me, awaiting the 13:00 opening time (1:00pm).
When the Hospitalero arrived he first asked if anyone was hurting. In honesty to the question, I said my calf muscles were cramping from the long daily walks and were quite sore, but I’d be ok with some rest.
To my surprise he asked me to follow him. I gave a shrug to the others who had queued before me (sorry!) and went inside. The man checked me in, showed me the common areas, showers, and sleeping loft with mats. He suggested I first choose the mat that would make me the most comfortable. He then instructed me to return to him after I was settled.
After showering I returned to find him. He motioned me to sit and brought me ice packs for my calves. Watching the clock, he returned in 15 minutes saying, “No more ice!” I was very touched by his kindness. I have now received loving care at a Pilgrim Hospital.
Short video here of the inside of this lovely very old building. No wall was straight. The stairs and ceilings were made out of simple stripped wooden tree logs that swayed and curved in their natural shapes. The floor of the prayer room we occupied later in the evening dropped probably 12″ (30cm) over the length of 12′ (3.5 meters). It was a completely delightful building.
(Saint James – Santiago – statue in the little prayer room.)
After doing the common pilgrim chore of washing everything I have by hand except the clothes I currently wore, then hanging them outside in the sun to dry, I spent some time relaxing. The pilgrims all assisted in making a glorious 4-course evening meal of soup, pasta/salad, bread, paella, and fresh apples for dessert. I chose not to eat the soup because it contained ham, so the Hospitalero kindly brought me a small container of yogurt during that portion of the meal.
After the meal was over (9:00pm) we pilgrims had a choice: clean the dishes or join in the pilgrim prayer time. I and about nine others chose prayer time. Three pilgrims did the dishes (but had they selected prayer time we would have all contributed to this duty afterwards).
First, the little prayer room was up on the third floor and one steps up and over a stoop to enter, bending low to not hit one’s head. The stained glass on the door reminded me a lot of our Ananda Joy is Within You symbol.
Our Hospitalero passed out prayers in each of our respective languages. We each read a section of the prayer, and it was inspiring to follow the prayer in one’s own language while it was recited in another. Five languages and nine people. Inspiring.
The surprise that came next was that the Hospitalero handed us each a prayer from another perigrino (Camino pilgrim) which had been written in the last 20 days. He explained that we would all walk approximately 20 days more to reach Santiago. We could choose to also write a prayer of our hopes, our aspirations, our reasons for coming, and he would add it to his envelope in our language. He would then have our written prayer read by another pilgrim over the upcoming 20 days to bless our journeys and sacred intentions. I was moved by this tradition.
The prayer I read aloud was, I assumed, written by a woman due to the feminine script. She prayed for reconciliation of the relationship with her brothers, whom she had been close to all her life, but now with whom she felt estranged. She felt her Camino was very difficult and asked for courage and strength. I have found myself praying for her for the last few days, visualising the fruition of her sincere wishes.
I too submitted a prayer that others might add their strength to my own. I pray that I may add more Light to the world through my effort to raise funds for the new Temple of Light, and to also bring Light through my every step, my every breath, my every conversation and smile with other pilgrims and the lovely Spanish people along the Way.
I love to hear from you! Comments below. I hope to raise funds for a new Temple of Light.
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