So you have planned to walk the Camino. You have joined all the Facebook pages, forums and whatever else you could find online. You are ready. But then it starts, the questions. Where do I start? How do I train? What do I pack? Will I be OK doing this alone? Your mind is wandering and it just keeps going. Anxiety is normal. You are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Just breath ...
So you turn to all those internet pages looking for the information. You develop a pre-Camino pilgrim identity. We all do it. We want to talk with everyone who has walked before us. Nothing is wrong with this. The information starts flowing, everyone is sharing, its everywhere you turn. The advice is great, it helps alleviate some of the worries and and concerns. But then it happens, overload. Too much information, you start feeling more confused. Information overload! Information overload is the norm with our internet age. Stop, step back, slow down, the Camino rules apply before you even leave. Just walk! Breath ...
The Camino is a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage. But many walk it for many other reasons. It could be a cultural quest, a physical challenge, a bucket list thing, just to do it and the list goes on. This is your Camino, for your reasons. Some are searching for the answer to the age-old question, "Who am I?"
Whatever your reason is for walking the Camino, it will provide you with a rare opportunity to slow down life’s hectic pace. To walk a rhythmic three kilometers per hour and ponder the basics of living simply. As you walk, the biggest decision you will have to make is ‘Where will I eat,?’ ‘How far will I walk?’ and ‘Where will I sleep?’ Walk, eat, sleep. Simple. There is something revitalizing about embracing this simplicity.
Simple Reminders as you walk:
START EARLY, ENJOY THE JOURNEY:
It's nice to start early, in the nice cool morning air, and walk until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Another nice thing is you will beat the afternoon heat. On my average day walking the Camino, I would be up by 6 o'clock and leaving to walk by 6:30 or 7:00. By noon, I had covered so much ground - literally. I would walk slowly with lots of breaks, enjoying the journey. Stopping at cafes, for that Cafe con Leche, snacks or just relaxing in the red plastic chairs. Another favorite thing for me is to sit under a tree or along a river and just be. I love arriving into town and getting to the albergue by early afternoon. Just in time, for a siesta or just relaxing around town. I always feel so accomplished after walking for 6-7 hours, spending the afternoon and evening around town, and well rested to start the next day.
ONE DAY AT A TIME, BE IN THE MOMENT:
I am lucky here, because this is the way I live my life. Never look at the big picture, break things into smaller tasks. Don't look at your whole Camino and be overwhelmed. Don't even look at your full day, break it down. Be in the moment. Right here, right now is all that matters. So you have 24 kms ahead of you, break it down. Look at your map/guide, the next cafe is 5 kms. Then that's all you need to get to. That is your goal. Don't think about the whole day, just get to that cafe. You will start to love red plastic chairs, because that means cafe, restroom and a break to enjoy! I have even used this to climb a hill, break it down. Find a focal point, I have found trees up the hill and said to myself, "I am going to make it to that tree and take a break" Once there done. Rest and repeat, Remember one day at a time, one moment at a time, be in the moment. You will learn to treasure that moment!
WALK AT YOUR OWN PACE:
Go your own pace. Even if you are with a group. You do you. I have walked with people who walk fast. I walk slow. Some days, they would slow down and walk with me and other days we would just meet at cafes and walk at our own pace. You don't have to walk with other people. What is beautiful about the Camino, is we are one community. We are all the same. We all have the same goal. No need to think you have to talk with everyone you pass. Some pilgrims you will pass with a "Buen Camino" and then sometimes you end up walking side by side and having a wonderful conversation. It is totally acceptable to be walking and talking with someone one minute, then separating or walking in silence for a while, and then drifting apart because your walking pace is different. Don't worry about this, it will all happen naturally. God places the right people in your life and for the right reason. You will be amazed at how this happens along the Camino. You will run into familiar faces again and again along the Camino. You will make many friends and some will be lifetime friends. Just remember, go at your own pace. I have found myself having a wonderful conversation and walking at a faster pace to keep up with them. Only to find myself 30 mins later so tired. Saying goodbye because I need a break, I slip into a red chair at a cafe. No worries on their part, "Buen Camino" as we separate.
Simply put: Enjoy your Camino, it is your Camino.
You will find your way and you will make it your own. Everyone is different, what is right for one person might not be right for the other. My Dad always says, "that's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream" Take all the advice, break it down. Don't get overwhelmed, you will know what applies to you. , you will know what applies to you. Pray about it. Let God lead this. Remember, breath ....
I will be heading out again, April 29th. I will be leading a small group from Samos to Santiago and then I will head up to Saint Jean and lead another group from Saint Jean to Santiago. Still a few spots available, if you are interested in joining us. Please contact us, email@example.com or 706-619-1112.
Please keep us in your prayers. I will keep you in my prayers, if you have any special intentions, please visit our Prayer Request page.
Our Majestic Galician Camino, April 29-May 9, is filling up, few spots are still available. Contact us today and say "yes" to the Camino!
One of our pilgrims who will be walking with us, sent this in. She is a member of a spiritual book club and in January everyone had to pick a word for the year. "awake" "focus" and so on. She took those words and wrote this amazing little prayer. The words are in bold. Hope you enjoy.
I just love the ending, "my heart is full of gratitude for the adventure"
Every Camino I walk is like my first. It doesn't matter how many times I walk this path, a new lesson or maybe a lesson I still need to learn is shown to me. Isn't that how life is? How many times does God need to show us something before we truly understand and learn. I pray that I am smart enough and have the wisdom to learn the first time, but I am human and sometimes I just need to be reminded again and again.
This one lesson seems to be shown to me over and over again. I know it. I believe in it. Maybe, the continuous reminder is a gift and a grace. Not a lesson. A reminder of Gods beauty, a reminder of His mercy, a reminder of His love. That reminder, that little nudge, that little gift is trusting in Him. Trusting that He is taking care of us. Trusting that He is guiding us.
He has carried me through a lot in life. He has brought me through the desert. He has helped me in carrying my crosses. He has always been there. So, why do I doubt? Why do I question? Why do I fear?
So, my little reminder on this Camino is beautiful and it is perfect. This past September, I lead a group from Rabanal del Camino to Santiago. It was a special Camino. Planned for my pilgrims. I liked the route so much, that I am now offering it as a pilgrimage. After staying our first night in a lovely Albergue in Rabanal del Camino and enjoying a beautiful and delicious breakfast, we started our walk to Molinaseca. Molinaseca is a beautiful village in a valley alongside a river. We started early and came to the Iron Cross. One of the things I like about this Camino is even though it is short, we were able to walk to the Iron Cross. One of the most important points along the Camino. We left our stone, left our burdens and continued along the mountain range. The day was perfect. It was sunny with a little chill in the air. We enjoyed good food and great company!
The next day was going to be different, a little walking and a little transferring by bus. Our day consisted of a short walk to Ponferrada. This was about 3-4 miles and then we will take a bus to Piedrafita. Piedrafita is a little town at the base of a mountain. This mountain road takes you to O'Cebreiro. After the bus ride, we will walk 2.5 miles uphill into O'Cebreiro.
We started our day at a nice pace and when we arrived into Ponferrada, we had a nice surprise. A festival was taking place. We enjoyed a nice cup of cafe con leche and headed to the bus station. As we made our way to the station, we were able to enjoy all the food and crafts at the festival. Remember the Camino is all about the journey, so enjoy every moment that is given to you.
When we arrived in Piedrafita, after a nice nap on the bus, we started our walk into O'Cebreiro. Again another important point along the Camino, the village of O'Cebreiro. This is the village where the Eucharistic Miracle happened. The church is beautiful and the miracle is on the side altar. We weren't taken the normal path, we were hiking up the road. We decided to walk and get lunch in O'Cebreiro. Its only 4 kms, we can wait and eat there. That was our vote as a team. We started our climb, it was a long 4 kms straight up. It was hot and it was long, oh wait did I already say that? We all started to get hungry.
We kept walking, because that's all you can do. I asked the girls if they wanted to get a taxi to O'Cebreiro. They said, no they were going to walk into O'Cebreiro. I was happy, because I wanted them to walk, but as a guide I had to offer the other option. As we walked, Nancy looked at the sides of the road. She started laughing, she said look at what He has given us! A snack! We stopped and looked. All alongside the road was blackberry bushes and to our surprise there were still some on the bushes. We thought how can they still be ripe and delicious in September? How can they not all be eaten? We stopped questioning the gift and enjoyed our snack. A reminder, He is taking care of us. He gives us what we need.
As we continued our walk, we started playing games. We sang songs, made up a few of our own. We laughed, we rested, we walked. We were almost there and we noticed a car pulled over to the side of the road. There was a little old Spanish lady filling bottles of water from a natural spring. We all got excited, our bottles were almost empty and not very cooling. As we approached the lady, she said, "the best water you will ever taste" as she continued filling like four gallons of water in her tubs. We waited our turn and sure enough, the water was perfect. Cold fresh spring water right out of the mountain side. Another gift. Another reminder. Thank you Jesus!
We continued into town, sat down and had the most delicious meal. As usual, our day was perfect in every way. Our Lord provides.
May we all be blessed with the many gifts and graces of Our Lord this day.
Buen Camino my fellow pilgrims!
Your fellow pilgrim, Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen