There are many prayer requests in the box. I read a few but there is work to be done. "Ora et labora" - 'Pray and Work' - the Benedictine motto. Later, when the pilgrims have all left, whilst mopping the shower and toilet, I think about another of Benedict's rules and of Robert's warning to Kevin and me after we allowed a French couple and their dog to stay for dinner on my second night. They told us that they had walked from Le Puy en Velay and had now run out of money. They didn't want to sleep in the albergue (they had a tent), but they were hungry and they would appreciate any food we could give them and their dog. They would help with any work we needed done. Of course we let them have dinner and gave the leftovers to the dog; they in turn helped with clearing the table and washing up.
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me"
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
We had started setting an extra place for 'San Anton' (who at first we called the 'Visitor') and we couldn't find it in our hearts to turn away the late comer, the vagabond - or Christian, a young Spaniard who arrived almost at 7pm a few days later.
Christian (imagine me turning away someone with that name?) told me that he was walking to Santiago but as it was the weekend, he had not been able to withdraw money from the bank, so he did not have money for a bed but he would work for food. I told him that he couldn't sleep in the walls of the ruins, did he have a tent? No - he didn't have a tent but he was prepared to sleep outside because he couldn't give a donation for a bed. I told him that many people were not as honest as he was. People who could afford a donation often didn't give one. I told him to accept our offer of a bed in the spirit in which it was given and in exchange, he could help prepare dinner, take out the trash and wash the dishes.
I thought of Christian often in the following days and wondered how he was getting on.
Kristine is training for her walk on the Salvador and Primtivo in a week's time so after lunch she went on her usual walk. A car pulled up outside the big gates and Angela arrived. For 9 years she had served at San Esteban in Castrojeriz but when they started charging 4 years ago she changed to serving at San Anton. She checked the 'pantry' cupboard and started making a list for tomorrow's shopping. When I told her that we were out of candles she phoned all the shops in Castrojeriz to find that there weren't any to be had. It was a relief to have someone who could talk on the phone! I could tell right away that we would get on. She smiled a lot, asked questions about the albergue, how we were doing, admiring the new fridge and other small changes since her last time here.
With three of us to prepare dinner, I had a chance to collect bramble berries for our dessert. Armed with garden gloves and cutters, two pilgrims and I walked down the path and into two fields, collecting the plump, black berries from the hedges. We crushed some and mixed them with yoghurt and decorated the top with whole berries.
After dinner, Angela asked if one of us would like to go with her to the morning mass at the convent of Santa Clara which was close to Castrojeriz. Afterwards she would do some shopping in Castrojeriz and visit the hotel. I suggested that Kristine go this time and I would go the next day. From then on we could take it in turns.