This is the first piece in an occasional series I'm calling Reasons To Walk The Camino.
The name of the slough was Despond. JOHN BUNYAN The Pilgrim's Progress
It was another time and another place, and she was younger, but not that much younger. She was old enough to have suffered a little, and to have experienced melancholy, and to have survived this suffering and melancholy. She carried some scars, and some hurt, and some confusion, but she still had faith in the future, still saw the glass half full rather than half empty. Until one day, one quite ordinary and uneventful day, a pit opened up before her feet, and she fell right in.
She stayed there in the darkness for a week or two — or was it longer? Her thoughts were grim, and she tried to push away these negative thoughts. She was almost completely immobile during this dark time. Movement was an effort bordering on torment. Better to remain still, to breathe slowly and regularly, to breathe deeply and determinedly, in and out, in and out. She prayed the walls of the pit would keep straight, as they appeared to bulge, then deflate, and rock from side to side.
She must have eaten and drunk throughout this period, but she cannot remember what she ate or drank. In fact, she cannot remember eating or drinking at all. She did not seem to want to read, or even to be able to read. Noises reached her consciousness only intermittently: snatches of music, mainly Bach, Mozart and Brahms, and some pop songs from her past, Johnny Halliday, Françoise Hardy. There was no world outside the pit, outside her mind, outside her body (which was curled up in the foetal position for most of the time).
Then one day the fog cleared, and she tried to walk, which she did shakily, and she realised she was not in a real pit, but actually in the bedroom of her house, and it was a morning in early spring, and the sun was dripping like honey through the curtains, and the blackbirds were scolding each other and making alarm calls in the garden.
And she gave thanks to the bedroom, to the house, to the garden, to the sun, to the blackbirds — and probably to God and to the Infinite Spirit and to the whole universe too. She gave thanks that life was change and flux and a process of becoming, and that nothing lasted forever, even dark pits into which we might fall. She resolved to avoid these pits in future if she could, and if she could not, then at least she now knew they would eventually dissolve and disappear and change into something else: perhaps a warm room with a bed and a blanket and the sun filtering through the curtains, or even a wood or a forest or a green valley or a high hill or a rocky mountain. Or a path which wound through the wood or the forest or the valley, and up the hill, and over the mountain.
It was at that moment she decided to walk the Camino. And she has been walking the Camino ever since.