Finding Harmony through the Five Elements

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Have you ever experienced a moment so pure that it could be a dream and when you awaken, you are overjoyed to discover that it is not?  Yesterday at San Anton, I experienced two such moments.

I had the pleasure of an unexpected but most welcome visit from Rebekah Scott, author of The Moorish Whore.  Rebekah lives in Morantinos, is very involved with various Camino Associations, and is responsible for the staffing of San Anton.

I had previously only spoken with her on Skype and Facebook and it was really a delight to meet face to face.  Our conversation was both random and intense and she shared with me how much she loves the air energy of San Anton.

There is no roof on this ruin and through the crumbling façade; one has a slight impression of past grandeur but the limitlessness of sky and air now abound.  It leaves one feeling awed.  One experiences new perspectives in a house of God with no roof as a barrier to the elements or the Almighty.

I shared with Rebekah some thoughts and concerns I had about being a hospitalera.  She reminded me that my main “element” is earth, which is grounded and still.  My fellow hospitalero is very air dominant and at moments, strangely enough I have felt breathless around him, like he takes up all the air in the room.  Rebekah reminded me of how air, fire, water, and earth all exist together with different forms and functions but ultimately in harmony.

It was a lovely visit and as Rebekah left, she encouraged me to continue listening for the things I need to hear and to allow myself to be.

In the early evening, a Spanish couple walked in to view San Anton.  I was chatting to a pilgrim and paid them little attention until we became aware of the music.  The lady was sitting on a bench facing the main entrance and singing.  It was heavenly.  The acoustics of the building picked up her voice and it filled the space like an arena.

I slowly made my way over to her and sat next to her on the bench.  I felt drawn to be there.  She seemed a little put off by my presence but I asked if I might sit with her as she sang.  She overcame her stage fright or having me in her space and began to sing, this time Ave Maria.

In the moment she sang, I felt the gravitational pull of the earth pulling me in, my eyes closed, my ears opened and I felt the air and heard the water.  Her voice was so melodious, like a clear brook tinkling over a rocky outcrop.  As she sang, the air picked up her voice and breathed it back over my body.  I was aware that I was crying but felt helpless to wipe away the tears or respond in any other way but allow the love of that moment to love me.

As she stopped singing, I turned to her and whispered Gracias señora.  She was surprised at my tears and told me not to cry which made me cry more and she took my face in her hands and gently wiped my tears away with her thumbs.

I was not crying in sadness or mourning but my body was simply responding to the moment of bliss as I allowed the earth, air, and the sound of water to remind me of the harmony and perfection of each moment.

Much later, in the evening, the half-moon showered San Anton with her light and I asked the three manly young men from New Zealand and Australia if one of them would accompany me outside.  I simply had to experience the power of the moon shining into San Anton from a different perspective.

Sam, my new Kiwi friend who has walked all the way from London with his brother Dave, said he would join me.  We left the premises and walked east, looking back at San Anton through the poplar trees and then we headed west under the arch and heading towards Castrojeriz.

I really like Sam.  Throughout our brief time together was had some profound conversations with one another and I found his passion for the Camino infectious and inspiring.  This is his second Camino and he has somehow convinced three other people to walk The Way.  He is quite a salesman!

Both of us loved the way the moon shone upon San Anton and we imagine what this complex must have been like in its prime.  We imagine people coming from all over Europe to receive healing here and imagined ourselves walking under the gigantic arches into the church.

We walked slowly down the road and paused briefly to look back and enjoy San Anton in the moonlight.  The moon drew in our gazes and we witnessed the most beautiful sight.  In the distance are the low lying hills of the Meseta.  The moon hung just above the horizon, in the middle ground stood a lone poplar tree bathed in moonlight and directly in the foreground two-poplar trees had sagged towards one another forming a perfect archway as if in imitation of San Anton.

Both Sam and I were speechless.  Nature had created her own cathedral and we stood at the doorway so to speak, looking in.

I loved the synchronicity of the moment where Eastern and Western philosophy met and the element of wood entered my day.  I was finding harmony through the five elements.

Is life not wonderful?  Things that can be perceived as mundane actually hold much wisdom if we allow ourselves to hear while listening, to see when looking and to know while being.

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Karen Montieth - 7 years ago

Oh my, now I find myself longing to experience San Anton; it seems to have the same pull on my heart as my line of work as a lay chaplain. For me Buber’s “I Thou” is the basis of those purest moments, of which you wrote.

    Angela Barnard - 7 years ago

    Hi Karen
    I am unfamiliar with Buber’s but will investigate. Thanks for the tip ????
    If you can stay at San Anton I’m sure you shall be blessed.

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