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A Pilgrim’s Way

I had been hiking for hours and I knew I was lost. The ascent of Montserrat near the Spanish village of El Bruc was arduous but to this point there had only been one path. Now I stood some eight hundred meters above the plains below and had to choose between three paths. “Stay on the trail”, I had been told by my host. But which trail? Left? Right? Straight ahead?

The finger-like rock formations of Montserrat were known to be treacherous. Alone, and with diminishing water, I needed help to find my way across the mountaintop. My goal was to reach the world-famous Montserrat Monastery on the other side. From there, I would catch a bus back to my lodgings in time for our evening meal. But now the afternoon was moving fast and with three paths ahead of me I had no idea which way to turn.

Without thinking, I found myself saying a little prayer for a guide to show me the way. I waited patiently, watched and listened for a sign. That’s when I heard a little voice in a nearby shrub. A small wren darted across my path. It danced ahead of me and stopped on a rocky outcrop. “Chitik, Chitik” it said. “Do you want me to follow you?” I asked. “Chitik. Chitik”. And it darted up the pathway to the right.

I followed the little bird as it weaved its way through a maze of animal tracks that formed a secret path to the top of the mountain. “Chitik. Chitik.” I lifted myself over a boulder and stood to behold the vast expanse of Catalonia far below. “Thank you, sweet bird”, I said. But the wren was nowhere to be seen.

Barely thirty meters away was the funicular railway to the Monastery.

It was 4.20pm and I was just in time for the final cable-train of the day.

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