This morning, we set out from Campobecerros just as dawn was breaking. As we climbed steadily out of the valley, the sun’s first rays reached us and warmed the chilly morning. As we walked, I was struck by the incredible silence that surrounded us. There was complete silence except for the different bird songs and the occasional murmur of small rivulets of water making their way down the mountain. There was no other sound, no motors in the background or people’s voices, no sound of airplanes above. Just silence, so that each bird song could be heard distinctly. I even felt that my hiking poles clicking on the tarmac was an intrusion, a sacrilege in the divine silence of nature. I was blessed to be a part of the oneness of God’s presence, distinct without the never-ending background noise of humans.

Fast forward to this afternoon, after six hours of walking and a gradual increase in temperature into the mid-20s. Our last five miles involved an incredible climb of 563 meters. Every time we crested a hill , we were presented with a new one. We were tired and struggling to put one foot in front of another. The next town seemed never to appear and it took all our energy to keep going. We finally arrived in Alberguaria where we will spend the night. What a picture of our lives this day has been: Joy’s as fresh as the morning and struggles that take all of our energy to survive.