In my research of the Camino I had read about the singing nuns, not to be missed. Unfortunately, I have been really sick, and when I caught a ride to the next town to catch a bus I overheard someone say this was the singing nun town! I decided to let go of a sizeable reservation fee I put on a nicer place to stay in León, but it felt right to stay. I’m very glad I did. It was nourishment for my soul that I needed at Albergue de Perigrinos Parroquia de Santa Maria in Carrión de los Condes.
The four nuns are shining beacons of light. I checked in; the albergue with 54 beds was full in 20 minutes and I’m lucky to have one. It also has wonderful kitchen and a relaxing outdoor patio. I machine-washed and dried every piece of clothing I own, except the few things I could get away with wearing, hoping to wash away the sickness vibration. I purchased a litre of milk at the store and sipped it in the garden, the only calories my stomach will tolerate. I’ve eaten first nothing for two days, and then a baby milk diet for two more days!
(Statue high in the sky outside the albergue in the evening sun.)
The nuns are medicine to the soul. At 17:30 (5:30pm) they sing in the church (short video). Then at 18:00 (6pm) they invite all the pilgrims to join in group song in the tiny common room (short video). At 19:00 (7pm) pilgrims help prepare dinner with contributions of food brought by everyone. I contributed a package of mushrooms for the meal, even though I knew I wouldn’t eat the dinner.
It was a busy evening! I found it wearing to remain standing during the mass at 20:00 (8pm). The priest, like others before, was a kindly man who had a twinkle in his eye and a joyful smile as he gave service. He lead us in two special pilgrim blessings at the end, with more singing from the joyful nuns. I have more and more respect for the Catholic faith from special places like this that keep the devotion alive.
The personal blessing at the end was the most special. I came forward, and like a Touch of Light, the nun first placed her hands on my head, then made the sign of the cross on my spiritual eye, the lower forehead just above the nose. I was so touched, I felt weak in the knees and tears trickled down my cheeks. It’s much like our own Ananda blessing, “May the Light of Christ be with You.”
Another nun gave us each a star that the nuns make for the pilgrims each day. A man translated (and as well as I remember): “We give you this gift from our hearts. It is not heavy! But the burden you carry may be a heavy heart, which will make you look down to the ground. Keep this star to remember to look up and feel the joy and light from the heavens.”
(The side altar of Santa Maria in the church, where the pilgrim blessing was held.)
There were so many rich experiences at this albergue and church in such a short time! After mass the pilgrims met for what looked like an incredibly delicious dinner (I didn’t eat, due to my tummy). Before the eating began the nuns led everyone in a singing blessing for the food! I felt like I was home again (this being also our tradition, also). I have been so recharged and blessed by the nuns.
Going upstairs to my dorm bed I checked my messages before sleeping. A message from a friend brought another wave of tears. She wrote, asking me to ask myself:
Who am I when I’m not striving, not pushing, not doing? Can I walk less and feel good about it? What is God asking me to learn from this? All my Camino friends are gone ahead, now I’m sick, and sort of alone. Who am I with me?
God has now gotten you quiet to reflect and listen and come out the other side with new insights.
Thank you to this dear friend for feeling my journey and walking along with me. I’m never alone, ever.
(Statue in Carrión de los Condes.)
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