I got the all clear from the Doctor at Mayo regarding my blood test results, so I hit the road this morning through the outskirts of Leon and once again onto the relatively flat ground to the west of the city.
As I settled into a 4 mile stretch before the next village, I began to think about the term donativo, and how they use it here. Strictly speaking, it simply means donation. However on the Camino it takes on a slightly different meaning. It is primarily used to describe the terms of a place to stay, but not always. It’s really more of a philosophy. People who use donativo facilities can use them for free, but are asked to donate if they can. No judgement. Nobody is watching.
My guess is that way back when, before the Camino became as commercialized as it is now, that all places of refuge operated under donativo terms. Way back when, many pilgrims did not have money at all and were left somewhat at the mercy of anyone willing to help them.
Centuries ago when people would take this pilgrimage, places that housed pilgrims were called hospitals. They really weren’t medical facilities, though I have to think there was quite a bit of healing going on.
One such place called St. Nicholas Hospital is still open and operating today. They take about 12 people a night, and it is pretty much ‘as it was’. There is no electricity or indoor plumbing. Dinner and breakfast are prepared together, and the hosts even wash the pilgrims feet nightly. There is no fee of course, donativo only.
Even now, they open their doors to whoever passes by to offer coffee, biscuits, and some bread. I did not get to stay there, but it was a fun little stop, as well as a glimpse back in time. I am really glad I stopped to get a feel for the place.
In our modern world where it sometimes feels like many of us aren’t giving what we can, and are taking what we want, I wonder what it would be like if everyone started to just
Give a little more if we can, and take only what we need. What do you think?
1.My great mattress and pillow at home.I miss them!
2.Vibrant autumn colors.
3.A change of seasons
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