As I was driving out of the park yesterday, I saw two little fox cubs playing on the side of the road. I’d just finished a 7-mile hike and I was feeling good; I started off slowly, weighed down by the humid air and hot sunshine, but soon found a rhythm and was marching along with strong legs and solid steps. Lately, my hikes have been good, almost the kind of good that I felt when I was on the Camino last year.
And then I saw the fox cubs. At first I wasn’t sure what they were- whether it was one animal or two, whether it was a large cat or a dog with an orange coat, or some other animal all together. I pulled up alongside the cubs and slowed my car to a stop. One of the foxes ran off into the grass, but the other just sat there, staring at me.
“What are you doing, Little Foxy?” I asked.
He seemed to tilt his head a bit, as if he were listening.
“You’d better move off the road, it’s dangerous for you here.”
I probably would have kept talking to him but I noticed that there were a few cars lined up behind me- but they, too, were peering out the window at the small foxes.
A fox sighting is always a little thrilling to me, and seeing two fox cubs felt really special. It felt like a good omen.
I’ve gotten several good omens lately, and it makes me think of last summer, and my moments of “Camino magic”. On the Camino, good omens or moments of magic seem to happen all of the time, and by the end of my walk I truly believed that wonderful things not only happen on the Camino, but they happen a lot on the Camino.
Losing sight of Camino magic back in the real world is a common thing. We usually don’t call it ‘magic’ here, I’m not sure what we call it. Good omens, perhaps. Luck. Coincidence. Signs from God. Or sometimes we might not call it anything at all because we don’t notice it: too much routine and task and obligation get in the way of the tiny magical moments that are still probably happening every day. Or could be happening, if we open ourselves to the possibility.
Lately I’ve wondered if my ‘good omens’ have anything to do with my approaching Camino. Knowing that another Camino is close has put me in the “Camino frame of mind”; is it possible that this slight shift in attitude is helping to bring good things to me, or helping me notice the beautiful things around me? Sometimes I think of these magic moments or good omens as signposts, indicators that I’m moving in the right direction. As if the little foxes were there to acknowledge my strong hike. “We like it out here, too,” they seemed to be saying.
Several weeks ago I was hiking in the same park and stopped by a picnic area to use the bathroom. Balanced on the very top of the corner bathroom stall was a book- it caught my eye right away because I usually don’t see anyone or anything in the park bathrooms. So I picked up the book and looked at its cover: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (the book’s subtitle is: ‘Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles). I’ve heard about this book a lot, especially in the last few years and especially as I’ve been focusing on my writing. I flipped open the book at random and saw the words ‘Resistance and Fear’, things that I’ve been thinking about a lot in this past year. After I left the bathroom and looked around the deserted picnic area, I stashed the book in my pack. Maybe the owner would come back to look for it, or maybe not. In any case, it sort of felt like that book had been placed in my path.
You might remember my last post, the one I wrote a few weeks ago about not being able to get a reservation in my favorite Parisian hostel, the MIJE. I wondered where I would stay, I wondered how a different ‘home base’ would change my experience of Paris. When I woke up the next morning and checked my email, there was a message from the MIJE. “Thank you for the kind words in your post,” they said. “When do you need to stay in Paris?”
So I’ll be staying at the MIJE this summer after all- in a shared room but if a single opens up, my name is on the waiting list. How is it possible that this even happened? It all feels a little magical; even though I know how easily information can be shared these days, it feels improbable and unlikely that anyone from the MIJE would have seen or read my post, and taken the time to write to me. I was already a huge fan of their hostels, but now they have me for life (luckily, even though they are youth hostels, there is no age limit. So the MIJE is stuck with me for years to come!).
And this, too, feels a bit like a message. Keep traveling. Get to know places. Settle in. Come back, again and again.
So I think that these are some of my yellow arrows. On the Camino the yellow arrow is a signpost, the symbol that directs you towards Santiago, and they are everywhere. At home, they are much harder to see. But suddenly I feel like they’re all around me, and it makes me want to keep my eyes open for more.