All of us walk the Camino for lots of different reasons. When you walk steadily day after day, you establish a rhythm and a routine. This routine becomes your comfort on the Camino. All you have to do is walk. Each day, each walk gives you new experiences and beautiful memories. This can be healing to your mind and heart. While you walk the Camino you are living in the moment, something to remember and something to take home with you. This living in the moment is the beginning of healing our mind and heart and truly walking with Our Lord.
"By coordinating your breathing with your steps, you establish yourself fully in the present moment, and your senses become empowered with the energy of mindfulness ... Life has not been easy for many of us, and oftentimes our hearts have been torn and broken. But as we learn to walk mindfully, coming home to the Earth with each step, we mend our broken hearts. Every step you take in this spirit becomes a healing stitch that mends the places in you that are wounded." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Hello fellow pilgrims. We here at Prayerful Path are so excited.
We have been working hard on our kickstarter campaign and have realized that in order to be able to present you our very best, we will need to wait until after our June pilgrimage to release it. We know God is walking us through this process and as anxious as we are to have it ready, right now patience seems to be an important part of our faith journey. And so we will be patient!!
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12
In the meantime, while being patient, we designed this shirt especially for the pilgrim, which we all are, Camino walkers or not, and because we know that those of us fortunate to have walked “The Way,” feel called back again and again.
This little fundraiser will help us to finish our book, “Praying the Way of St. James” and allow us more time to invest in our kickstarter campaign. For everyone who purchases a shirt, we will take you in prayer along with us on our pilgrimage and say a special prayer for your intentions (let us know) at the Cathedral in Santiago. If you are unable to purchase a shirt, just share this with your friends and know we appreciate each and every one of you.
We are very excited about our upcoming pilgrimage in June. Still time if you want to join us.
Click on the link below to purchase your shirt. $22.00
“But I don’t think I can walk that far.”
“You can,” I protest.
“The Camino is completely different from the Appalachian Trail.”
This is a sample conversation that I have had with countless potential pilgrims. Believe it or not, some of these conversations have been fruitful (resulting in the person deciding to attempt the popular Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Europe).
The Camino de Santiago was actually a big part of European life during medieval times. It is said that 500,000 pilgrims per year attempted the cross-continental journey on foot to the great Gothic Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Camino fell out of favor for almost 500 years; but in the last twenty years it has staged a stunning comeback. What accounts for this storied pilgrimage’s continued success?
Since the earliest human peregrinations, people have wondered how to travel more fruitfully, more fulfillingly, more soulfully. Interestingly, the word travel is derived from the word travails, which connotes beleagurement. That brings up an interesting irony–in this day and age of supersonic jet travel and instantaneous electronic communication, it has become harder to travel well. Modern tourism so often seems to be about destination. One can often subtly hear the frustrations of travelers who return from their long journeys. Deep in their sub-conscious seems to be the thought, ‘Is that all?’ The hope of the sublime, life changing encounters somewhere along the way usually proves elusive.
Pilgrimages on the other hand are much more about transformation. The nature of the daily routine on the Camino is such that it is virtually impossible to not make authentic relationships. Pilgrims typically walk about 25 kilometers (15 miles) per day, taking a coffee or sandwich break along the way. In the early afternoon pilgrims usually begin arriving in the pueblo of their destination, and reserve a bunk at either municipal, private, or parochial albergues. It is then customary for most pilgrims to take a shower, do their laundry, and perhaps take a shower. In the early evening everybody heads off to local restaurants, usually looking for taverns that offer a ‘Menu del Peregrino’ (Pilgrims menu). This includes a first and second dish, bread, olive oil, dessert, and red wine (Hint: Bad wine has yet to be invented in Spain). Everyone then heads back to the albergue for a typical 10:30 curfew.
At almost all times, a person can expect to be surrounded by fellow pilgrims, hailing from countries the world over. It virtually impossible to not make some acquaintances. Better yet, these will not be the superficial ‘waiter-customer’ or ‘desk clerk-guest’ conversations that typify more conventional travel, but rather more authentic human interactions. Relationships just develop naturally and organically on the Camino. I spent a large amount of time joyfully traipsing through the Spanish countryside with a large group from Paris. Of course, the cultural rivalries and differences of French and Americans are legendary; but the Camino reaches beyond such narrow concerns.
Perhaps the best part of the Camino routine is its sheer balance. It is a compelling daily equilibrium of struggle, socializing, spiritual, history, food, and wine. Besides being a babble of languages, the Camino casts the widest possible net in terms of age, abilities, and gender. I’ve seen pilgrims as young as six (which make for great photos), as well as pilgrims in their eighties struggling valiantly to Santiago de Compostela. While the Camino is certainly not an easy trek, it is clearly less difficult than America’s trail of the masses, the Appalachian Trail. For starters, it is a much more manageable size (500 miles to 2,180 miles). Better yet, pilgrims carry less weight, you never feel terribly isolated or fear getting lost, and there is no serious danger from either rabid animals or crazed humans. The Appalachian Trail has made great progress in gender participation; but the Camino de Santiago is probably the only popular footpath in the world where women equal roughly half the participants. And given that women are the fastest growing segment of adventure travel, I would look for women to eventually outnumber males on the Camino de Santiago.
The bottom line is this: If you like people, you will love the Camino de Santiago. This is all very fitting. While modern pilgrims have all kinds of motivations, the fact is that this storied pilgrimage has Christian roots. And Christianity by its very nature is a religion of the masses. Absolutely no one is excluded as, for instance, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca which requires its pilgrims to be members of the Muslim faith.
The modern Camino almost reminds me of a grand social experiment. Sizable chunks of humanity are thrown together for an intensive several weeks of travel on foot. I can honestly say that I have been struck over the course of my three pilgrimages at how civilized the vast majority of pilgrims are able to comport themselves over such a lengthy journey. In fact, it is striking how much less coarse language one hears or gawdy acts are committed on this pilgrimage compared to the other footpaths I have walked.
Yes, this old-new way of travel is here to stay. Let the masses go forward.
Bill Walker is the author of The Best Way – El Camino de Santiago He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trailand Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
1. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the “camino” opens your eyes to what is not seen.
2. Blessed are you pilgrim, if what concerns you most is not to arrive, as to arrive with others.
3. Blessed are you pilgrim, when you contemplate the “camino” and you discover it is full of names and dawns.
4. Blessed are you pilgrim, because you have discovered that the authentic “camino” begins when it is completed.
5. Blessed are you pilgrim, if your knapsack is emptying of things and your heart does not know where to hang up so many feelings and emotions.
6. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side.
7. Blessed are you pilgrim, when you don’t have words to give thanks for everything that surprises you at every twist and turn of the way.
8. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you search for the truth and make of the “camino” a life and of your life a “way” in search of the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
9. Blessed are you pilgrim, if on the way you meet yourself and gift yourself with time, without rushing, so as not to disregard the image in your heart.
10. Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the “camino” holds a lot of silence, and the silence of prayer, and the prayer of meeting with God who is waiting for you."
Source:The Church of St. Stephen in Zabaldika, Spain
Deepak Chopra defines spirituality as
the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality. This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect, and ego. When we have even a partial glimpse of this level of awareness we experience joy, insight, intuition, creativity, and freedom of choice. In addition, there is the awakening of love, kindness, compassion, happiness at the success of others, and equanimity.
Jack, one of the pilgrims featured in The Camino Documentary, states, “Life and spirituality are so intertwined and connected that it’s impossible to separate them.”
Before I left for my Camino journey I wondered if I would find a deeper meaning to life, a more balanced view of the unseen, of the intangible, and of my purpose in life; quite an imposing feat for such a short journey.
What I discovered was much more than the balance I sought. I discovered the joy of simplicity and the resulting opportunities for introspection. I discovered that beauty lies in everything we see, touch, smell and feel. I discovered the power of silence, be it while walking alone, sitting with other pilgrims during an evening mass, or simply looking into someone’s eyes and feeling the unspoken kindness and connection.
What I developed was gratitude for everything I saw, heard, felt, tasted and experienced. What I relished were the unexpected memories that surfaced in the strangest of times and places – those memories allowed me to honor the beautiful people who were or are part of my life and my personal growth.
What I rediscovered were the joys of feeling at peace and at one with nature. Walking with only the sounds of my footsteps and my heartbeat brought me to a level of mindfulness that I had pushed aside in my busy corporate life.
What I learned was to appreciate the equanimity of all pilgrims. On the Camino, we are not defined by our job, title, position, age, or accomplishments; we are defined as pilgrims seeking our own enlightenment. We look alike as we walk with our backpacks, poles, hat and boots, yet each one of us carries our own stories.
The Camino experience allows us to live life without hundreds of daily distractions. For me, it was simplicity at its best. Decisions were minimal—where to sleep, what to eat, when to take breaks; the other 23 hours and 30 minutes of the day were spent living . . . living each moment to its best.
Upon my return to my usual world I found myself aiming to live a bit of that “simple” life. It may have been a simple life in terms of responsibilities, chores, and time-wasting activities but it did have its abundance of sensory experiences.
Did I experience a deeper spirituality on the Camino? The spirituality I gained while walking the Camino can best be described as a painting with 12 basic colors becoming a masterpiece of millions of colors. I’m reliving life with a whole new palette!
¡Buen “colorful” Camino!
Life itself is a sacred journey but when we decide to join a pilgrimage this sacred journey gets interesting. We get to learn and experience so much. During a pilgrimage, we experience two types of journeys.
The outer journey lets us leave everything behind. We get away from the everyday routines, and all the technology and distractions of the world. We get to exercise daily (which we are always told to do, yet never do). This journey also allows us to meet knew people or spend time with a loved one and experience the history and culture of another country. Its fun and exciting.
Then there's the inner journey. This journey is your own. This is the one that is not as simple as the outer journey. For this one is where we receive gifts and lessons. Sometimes we receive and understand while on the pilgrimage and sometimes not until we return home. The excitement of a pilgrimage and the inner journey is we never know what to expect. You might think you know why you are doing the pilgrimage, but usually we find out during the pilgrimage there is another reason. The best thing to do is open your heart, your ears and your eyes and let the Lord guide you. He will show you the way.
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