Day 21: In remembrance of Orlando
Feeling God and feeling embraced (Candace)
Aviles to Cudillero
Distance: 18.8 miles (30.3 kilometers)
Total Ascent: 670 meters
Calories Burned: 4,088
Being so far away from home, it is relatively easy to turn off the news, tune out, and go off the grid. And most of the time, I’m happy to ignore the news. But I just can’t do it this week. I promise not to speak on politics, nor to try to insert myself in the larger public dialogue on the events that have transpired in Orlando, but I’m emotionally sick today, and it has been on my mind.
Just over a year ago, Andrew and I met at an intimacy training event that celebrates humanity and openness and honesty. We were among a group of people who embraced us both for exactly who we were and accepted our unique kind of weird. And Andrew was the first man in my entire life to see me, exactly as I am, and love me for it, rather than in spite of it.
As we woke up this morning, our newsfeed was full of dialogue about the Orlando shooting, and we couldn’t help but start our day with this in mind. There is very little that I can do about this particular event, but I did set my intention today to act out of love, rather than fear, in memory of those who passed this week before their time.
And as I was trekking alone today, I walked through a eucalyptus forest to find the most magical wind storm I’ve ever seen. The sky was perfectly blue, the birds were singing, and the trees were in motion. They were dancing. I felt chills throughout my body, and then suddenly, I felt calm. A calm I can only now try to explain. I felt God’s presence today in that forest, and I felt love, patience and safety.
Shortly thereafter, I met a new friend. Austin is from the US, but has been living in Spain for a year. He is in search of answers to questions he’s not quite sure how to frame. He’s been looking for his path, his meaning, and I instantly connected with him.
At the young age of 22, this young man has worked in a fish factory in Alaska to save money to come to Spain, he has taught English at a school in a town where he has been generally unhappy with the surroundings, but stuck with it for a year, and he stood up for what he knew was right in a questionable environment at work. I was so moved by Austin and all that he has already accomplished, and proud of him for doing the Camino to find what is right for him.
Austin only mentioned his sexuality in passing. He is gay. He didn’t trumpet this in the context of Orlando or the pride festivities around the world (Andrew and I will be attending pride in Lisbon on June 25), but he also didn’t hide it. And I loved everything about my day with him.
And for the first time on this Camino, I told Austin about myself. I told him about my businesses, my failures, my hopes, fears and insecurities. And I told him about my sexuality, and the journey that Andrew and I have been on together to define the right environment for our relationship. Not to brag or tell stories, but just to offer an honest insight into who I am as a person. And he embraced me for all of it. I felt seen and heard today, and I thank Austin for that.
I’m not yet quite sure how all of these events relate, but I’m not trying to relate them. I only know that I intend to proceed today with love and acceptance. I’m honored to be surrounded with others who support my special kind of weird, and commit to endeavor to do the same for them.