Whenever I talk to someone about what I do for a living, they say to me, "Oh, the Camino de Santiago. I want to walk that one day it's on my bucket list!"
Why is this pilgrimage on everyones bucket list?
There are many reasons. But I believe, one of the reasons is because it is a huge accomplishment and an opportunity for personal growth. It is a challenge for all who embark on it. Not everyone has time to do the complete Camino (33 days of walking) but that's okay. There are many paths, many distances and many opportunities to walk the Camino. Now a days there are lots of tour groups out there to help the pilgrim plan their Camino. You can walk it alone, walk it with a group, have someone plan it, plan it yourself, carry your pack or transfer your pack. It is your Camino so you do it the way thats best for you.
When you give yourself the gift of walking the Camino, you will be apart of history. You will walk where millions have walked before, where pilgrims have walked for centuries. You will see local villages, churches, beautiful parts of nature, experience silence and laughter, meet new friends and be apart of the incredible mix of people from all over the world. This experience will be your own. Take what you need and allow it to be your story.
So when you walk and cross it off your bucket list, will it be spiritual? emotional? or just an adventure?
No matter your reason, the Camino is calling and you must go!
Are you ready but just don't know where to start, contact us and we can help you experience one of the most memorable and powerful sacred adventures of your life!
By: Mary Maddox
People walk the Camino de Santiago for many reasons. The Camino means different things to different
people. But one thing is the same for all pilgrims, it is a unique and one of a kind experience. It is a journey
that enlightens and enriches your spirit.
Here are a few reasons people walk the Camino:
Spiritual and Self-Descovery:
It is on this pilgrimage, where you step away from your everyday lives. You leave your job, your concerns andgive yourselves to God. It's on this pilgrimage, where you open your eyes, heart, and listen to the Word of God. In this place your journey progresses. The steps might not be easy, the path might be steep, but it is these steps on this path where you move towards God.
You are much stronger than you think you are. But you will never know that until you try something outside ofyour comfort zone. The Camino allows you to live outside your comfort zone. This Way is a journey of self-discovery. Pushing you to your limits. Living day by day, step by step. As the journey continues, you will find
yourself getting stronger physically and mentally. You will find self-awareness, self-reliance and the ability to trust.
Simply a vacation:
Vacations are about taking a breather from every day life. The Camino gives you that and more. The Camino
is about getting back to basics and enjoying some of the most simple pleasures in life. It is about living in the moment. Enjoying the journey not just the destination.
Hiking and Exercise:
Just to walk. Walking and enjoying the outdoors. From the French Pyrenees to the lush hills and woodlands
of Galicia, the Camino takes you across many different landscapes. If you can walk, you can do the Camino. The walking paths are well marked and most of them are suitable for all fitness levels.
Cultural, seeing the real Spain:
Along the Camino, you will walk through many cities, towns and villages. You will see beautiful churches,
monuments and other cultural and historic landmarks, along this route which has been used for centuries. As you walk the Camino you will have the opportunity to sample the local cuisine. Each route and each region has its own traditional dishes. Take the time to try them all!
Are you ready?
As part of our supported Caminos, we have a special Camino planned for this April.
Full support, slow walking, short days and so much more!
Majestic Galician Lite Camino
April 29 - May 9, 2018
We have a few pilgrims signed up and due to their concerns of walking and their age, we thought lets help fellow pilgrims feel welcome and comfortable with walking the Camino.
We have seen all ages along the Camino. The average age is 30-60 but 18% are over 60. I have met an Eighty year old, who has walked the full Camino three times, a seventy year old woman who walked the full Camino all by herself. A mother daughter, Eighty year old and fifty year old walking together. The Camino is yours. You walk it how you want to. Carry your pack or transfer your pack, walk a little or walk a lot, walk at your own pace.
First thing to do is to push yourself to be conditioned and ready for the walking. Don't overdue it. You aren't twenty, and your recover time will be longer than in your youth. Make sure to take care of your feet. Take breaks. Stop when you are tired. This is important during training and as you actually walk the Camino.
The Camino is yours, do it your way. If you only want to walk five or six miles, then do it. Don't feel pushed to keep up with the Camino crowd. Or to try and stay with interesting people. You will have a group with us and you will be able to enjoy the company of others in the evening, as we rest and share our days.
I hate to say it, but expect to hurt. Expect most of the hurt to go away each night. Part of the Camino is to expect and accept what is given to you. So accept the discomfort. Avoid feeling sorry for yourself and negative thoughts that enter your mind. Avoid misery.
Every Camino is different and take every day as its own. Do not burden yourself with artificial rules and expectations. There is no right way. No official route, just a path. Just a path for us to follow. Follow at your own pace, follow your heart and listen to your body. Know when to stop and when to push yourself. There is no such thing as cheating. No wrong way. Just walk!
Just walk, one step at a time. Have fun and Buen Camino!
Please contact us if you want more information about our
Majestic Galician Lite Camino!
April 29 - May 9, 2018 .... $1300 pp, double occupancy .... 112 kms walking distance
Slow paced, van support, luggage transfer, two guides, group support, training support and more!
It's that time again, let's walk to Santiago! I am blessed to be leading a pilgrimage along The Camino de Santiago. I had to make a little flight down to Fort Lauderdale, FL to meet up with my pilgrims! Flying out tomorrow for Madrid!! Please keep us in your prayers!!
As I sit on the plane to Florida listening and praying my Rosary, I feel in my heart I should be walking this for others. Let me offer up my walk for your prayers! If you have any special prayer intentions please message me and I will pray daily as I walk into Santiago! I will then add them to the prayer intentions at the Cathedral in Santiago! .firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my third Camino and I will be walking 100 miles of the Camino this time. Starting in Rabanal del Camino, we will join the Monks for vespers and a pilgrims blessing. We will be walking from here to Santiago. Our first day will be 14 miles as we walk to the iron cross and onto Molinaseca, a little village on a river at the base of the mountain range. Our second day is a mixture of small walks about 9 miles with a transfer to Samos. Samos is the home of a beautiful Benedictine Monastery! We will enjoy vespers here as well. From Samos we will have 6 days of walking into Santiago with the average day being 14 miles.
If you would like a Mass said for your intentions at the Cathedral in Santiago, please donate $25 and I will have your Mass said and mail your card to you upon my return along with a special picture just for you!!
I would also like to raise money for my mission work in Haiti(Dec 2017) and Columbia(May 2018), if you would like to donate per mile for this mission work please click below ( EX ... $1 a mile = $100 donation or any donation will be appreciated) I will send you a pic along the Camino, just for you!!
Thanks again and Buen Camino!!
Send prayer requests to: email@example.com
By: Ken Bagstad
The church doors opened at 1 p.m. for Easter Mass in the town of Castrojeriz. I set my pack down in the back, stretched my weary shoulders and sat down in a pew, saying hello to the parishioners near me in the few words of Spanish I could now rattle off easily. I would have been self-conscious of what I was wearing in church that day—hiking boots, zip-off pants, moisture-wicking shirt, all covered in a fair share of mud and sweat—if I weren’t one of the hundreds of pilgrims passing through this small town along the Camino de Santiago each day.
But there was another reason I didn’t quite fit into this Easter morning scene: I was not Catholic. I was the Jewish equivalent of a Christmas-and-Easter Christian—services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, lighting candles at Hanukkah, breaking matzah and drinking wine at the Passover Seder. At age 13, after my Bar Mitzvah, I decided that if I wanted to be a scientist someday I needed to embrace rational thought, and that meant letting go of things I could not see, feel or touch.
One year earlier, in 2013, I had walked my first 100 miles on the Camino. Then, I had no thoughts of God or faith, just a desire to stretch my legs after two weeks cooped up indoors teaching a course in environmental economics. But after my eight days on the trail, I was hooked.
"While not all of my fellow pilgrims were spiritual, much less Catholic, everyone there seemed to be looking for something."
It was not just the beautiful scenery and delicious food in each new village that drew me in. It was the way people just looked out for each other on the trail. I would end the day with a blister and just happen to meet a doctor or nurse who could care for me that night. A friend would break a boot lace and meet someone who just happened to have an extra in their pack. Priests, nuns and villagers were always there with a smile, a blessing, a greeting of “Buen camino.” While not all of my fellow pilgrims were spiritual, much less Catholic, everyone there seemed to be looking for something. So I returned in the spring of 2014 to walk another two weeks, the next 230 miles on the Way of St. James.
The Mass started to a joyous Spanish rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as we got up and processed through the entire church and adjoining courtyard. My thoughts wandered through the readings. As parishioners stood and filed up to take Communion, I sat in the pew, gazing up at Christ hanging on a very large crucifix above the altar.
Like most non-Catholics, growing up I had trouble understanding the idea of consuming the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. As a Jew, the links to the Passover Seder were obvious, and I could understand the beauty and significance of religious rituals. But I never believed in miracles and certainly never expected to draw meaning from this sacrament.
"I had met Christ out on the trail, I was sure of that."
Yet, I had met Christ out on the trail, I was sure of that. I had received a kind smile or word of encouragement whenever I was tired, frustrated and ready to quit. And maybe, to someone else, I had even been Christ out on the trail. My thoughts wandered to a fellow pilgrim, an Austrian woman who chain-smoked and swore her entire time on the Camino but was as determined to finish as anyone I had met out there. One afternoon, her knee was so sore she could not walk any further, and we were still half a mile from town. She fought back tears as I carried her backpack over one shoulder and mine over the other, while two other friends took her arms over their shoulders, helping her limp along. In a moment when the possible end of her pilgrimage brought fear and disappointment, had she seen Christ in any of our faces?
So much care for the stranger, and so little care for the few physical possessions we carried on our backs. Earlier on the trail, a nun had handed me a written blessing saying “blessed are you, pilgrim, when your pack is emptying of things and your heart does not know where to hang so many emotions.”
Looking up at Christ on the cross as the faithful filed up to take Communion that Easter morning, the meaning of the sacrament became immediately clear to me. I felt my heart opening, encompassing all the people in this small church. I felt it move through the walls of the church, spilling out into the countryside where it met every person it encountered with love. I felt it expand beyond humanity to the trees and the wheat fields, the birds overhead, the other animals of God’s creation. And I understood the incredible gift of the Eucharist: each of us physically taking Christ into our bodies, committing ourselves and our community to live—as best as we can, given our human frailty—as he did.
"So much care for the stranger, and so little care for the few physical possessions we carried on our backs."
When I returned home to Denver after finishing my Camino journey in 2014, my heart was raw to the pain of the world. I saw homeless people living under bridges, and tears would come to my eyes. After weeks on pilgrimage, where all we did was care for each other, I couldn’t understand how society could be so uncaring to our own brothers and sisters. I started going to Mass, and that same transcendent feeling was there each time during the celebration of the Eucharist—where I first sat in the pews then later learned to walk up, cross my arms and receive the priest’s blessing.
I was baptized at the Easter vigil in 2015 at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Denver. Weeks later, I walked the Camino’s final 170 miles to Santiago de Compostela, where the experience of the pilgrim’s Mass— joined together with walkers from dozens of nations—remains fresh in my heart and mind.
God meets each of us where we are, when we can quiet our minds enough to let him draw near. God walked with me, mostly silent, for over 20 years after my Bar Mitzvah before I was ready to walk with God into the faith of my adult life. I never expected to become a Catholic. But then again, I could never have imagined how God would first prepare my mind to understand miracles, then to receive one.
In beauty may I walk
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again.
Beautifully birds . . .
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
A Navajo Indian Prayer of the Second Day of the Night Chant (anonymous)
(This prayer is part of a nine-day Navajo ritual called the Night Chant.)
By Brett Webb-Mitchell
For Christians, Lent is a season that is almost synonymous with the word “journey”. In preparation for Easter, for 40 days, many people choose either to give up something, as Jesus did when he practiced fasting in the wilderness, or to re-focus on a Christian spiritual practice with a renewed sense of purpose. Whether one relinquishes something favored or adopts new habits, such activity is meant to lead people to remember the pattern of the Last Supper that prefigures an act of Godly love, the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, culminating in the celebration of the divine resurrection of Christ.
While I am usually drawn either to surrender or take on new during Lent, my attention this year is on the high incidence of traveling metaphors commonly used by writers, speakers, pastors, and priests alike, when describing Lent. The intent of using this language is to assist believers in focusing on the progress or process of transformation in this hallowed season. As I read and hear from religious leaders, some of my favorite ways of traversing over the 40-day period of Lent is as follows: one goes on a mysterious journey as one follows Jesus; Lent is a sacred pilgrimage into the desert of our lives accompanied by Christ’s spirit. Or it is a solemn trek into an unknown land requiring us to rely upon the Spirit to give us strength in our time of praying and fasting. Other teachers talk of wandering on the road of temptation and forgiveness, or maybe a trail of remembrances, reflecting upon what Jesus has done and is doing for us. A few seek to be on a quest for a deeper understanding of the mystery of forgiveness as we make our way along a pathway toward more meaningful faith, one step at a time.
Such use of metaphors is fascinating, because this language is so far removed from our contemporary Christian experience in this modern age. This is not a condemnation as much as it is observation: in our contemporary age more people will choose to drive, bike, ride a horse, fly, paddle, or if possible select Star Trek’s transporter, as a way of moving from point A to point B. The purpose is to find the most comfortable and convenient way to travel over the distance in the quickest period of time. The journey is not the point; being at our destination is.
But when we use the convenience of modern modes of transportation, we live lives largely detached not only from the land, water, fire, and air that is the stuff of our lives, but also from the engagement of our minds, bodies and spirits. In a sedentary manner we often travel through a neighborhood by opening Google Maps to tell us the most expedient passage. Then we read books, see movies, and listen to music that can take us to faraway lands. But until the last two hundred years — thanks to marvelous inventions like bicycles, trains, powered steamers and ships, and finally cars, buses, and planes — travel was never easy. More than a walk in the woods or a jaunt through one’s neighborhood, to move great distances was an arduous challenge to ordinary capacities, because a journey over considerable distances involved one’s mind, body, and spirit.
And what does this have to do with faith and Lent? While fewer people these days choose to peregrinate by foot, fewer people can envision the journey of faith — language commonly used during Lent — as an act of not only mind and spirit, but also body. In a sense, our discipleship today — which is primarily in the form of teaching and preaching, reading and writing — echoes how we travel today: it too is largely an act of mind and spirit, relegating the body to being merely a vessel to carry what is deemed essential to our daily existence.
In attempting to find a way of entering and sojourning anew in this season of Lent, along with daily devotions and exercising our intellectual life, our fasting as part of a spiritual habit of life, consider going on an actual pilgrimage by foot for over a mile or two and actually walking. The grounding of Lent as a walking pilgrimage is symbolically connected with “40,” which is not only attached to Jesus wandering in the wilderness, but also Elijah’s pilgrimage to Mt. Horeb, and Moses leading the people in the Sinai wilderness. All of these were intentional walking pilgrimages. People’s feet hurt from walking on the rough ground; blisters appeared when sandal straps rubbed on bare feet; backs ached from carrying satchels of one’s clothing and supplies for daily life; and disease spread quickly among people when one’s body, mind, and spirit were worn down from the tedium of walking. By walking, we learn what it literally means to walk in the footsteps of those who know the trail better than we do, or the peril and thrill of charting a new path of faith when walking in a forest. We learn to walk as a community of care and faith, to support those who are most weary, and what it means to be a wounded healer in tending to someone else’s blisters when they tend to ours. We experience the challenge of walking with and being with each other, accompanied by the Spirit And at end of day we will have gained insight into a simple, beautiful act of hospitality as we receive a cup of water and daily bread, an echo of the Lord’s Prayer.
The late Bros. Roger of the Taize community talked about Jesus being the Pilgrim God. A way for us to be in touch with the Pilgrim God in and beyond Lent is not as daunting as it might seem but quite simple: go on a one day or two day walk that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, maybe 10 miles each day, reciting a Psalm or prayer along the way some weekend with a family member or friend.
Or consider an intentional pilgrimage, Jesus invites us to not only go on a metaphorical pilgrimage when extending the invitation to “Follow me” during Lent. We are invited to drop everything, and move mind, spirit and body to be on pilgrimage with the Pilgrim God.
By Brett Webb-Mitchell
Join us for a Lenten pilgrimage!
April 7 - 18, 2017
Spend Holy week on a pilgrimage!
Semana Santa or “Holy Week” is one of the most special times to be on the Camino de Santiago. This celebration fills the streets with processions. It is a tradition made famous in Spain as the population turns out to celebrate the Passion of Christ.
Special Holy Week Pilgrimage!
Masses, processions, and celebrations!
Paschal Triduum along the Camino, Easter Day Mass at Cathedral of Santiago
Processions are lead by religious brotherhoods known as hermandades, or cofradías. They carry large floats known as pasos which depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary.
The nazarenos wear a penitential robe. The robes look like a tunic and cloak and have a hood with a conical tip called a capirote. The colors vary between processions. They are very medieval looking and were worn back then so the penitents could carry out their penance without being recognized. Sometimes they carry candles or crosses. Some walk barefoot or shackled in chains, all done as a penace. Marching bands usually join the processions with loud, slow and rhythmic drumming.
The week of processions are an amazing sight! A sight for all to see, religious or not, you will never forget this time on the Camino.
by firstname.lastname@example.org / Oct 29, 2013
Why did I decide to walk nearly 500 miles in a foreign country where I knew no one and could not speak the language? I am still discovering the reasons, but this is what I know so far.
Routines are very natural and common in our lives. I have many of them, including eating the same Kashi cereal almost every day. I find the best way to disengage the autopilot and take over the aircraft is to put myself in an environment or a situation where my comfort boundaries are stretched, pulled, and shattered.
It also sounded like an awesome trip––a historic route walked by millions since the Middle Ages, with hostels to stay in along the way and an official Compostela certificate to receive from the cathedral at the end.
I was attracted to the physical challenge of it. I’d been on cycling trips in Europe before, but this would be something new. It was epic in scale, starting in France, crossing the mountains into Spain, then cutting across Don Quixote plains to the coast. Despite my size and fitness, I wondered if I could do it.
I wanted the alone time for an interior journey. Although I had quit drinking 12 years before, I was still recovering from the aftermath of a long unconscious youth. I had retired early and wanted to contemplate how I was spending the time I had earned for myself. Most of all, I wanted to think about the love of my life, our four-year relationship, and where it was going.
“The first third of the trip is for the body, the second third for the mind, and the last third for the soul,” the Camino saying goes. It was all that for me.
The route began with St. James the Greater, one of the 12 apostles chosen by Jesus to spread Christian teachings to all nations. St. James is believed to have traveled to northern Spain. In 44 A.D., he returned to the Holy Land and was promptly beheaded by King Herod and made a martyr. Legend says disciples stole his body, placed it in a sarcophagus of marble, and transported it to the Iberian Peninsula via a small ship. When the ship sank, his body washed to shore where it was covered and preserved by scallop shells (another symbolic meaning for the scallop shell that I carried on my pack). When found, the body was quickly buried in a non-descript tomb.
In the ninth century, the St. James legend continued when a shepherd named Pelayo was drawn to a certain field by a shining star. The Latin word compostela refers to the “field of the stars.” A bishop was notified of this event and initiated an investigation into what was believed to be the body and relics of St. James found at the site. King Alfonso II declared St. James to be the patron saint of the region and built a chapel on the site that eventually became the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Today, at least nine established routes converge at the apostle’s tomb in Santiago. The internal grooves on the scallop shell come together at the base as a metaphor for the different trails. Most modern-day pilgrims walk the Camino Francés (The French Way). The roughly 500-mile walk begins in St. Jean Pied-de-Port. A strong infrastructure has developed to support the estimated one million additional pilgrims who have made the pilgrimage in modern times. These numbers are exploding, with an estimated 200,000 pilgrims arriving in Santiago in 2012.
The modern-day walkers come in all sizes and shapes from every corner of the planet. Some seek religious affirmation while others aspire to a spiritual awakening. Many are there solely for the physical challenges of the adventurous journey. It provides an appealing escape from the day-to-day routines of our busy lives.
I had no eureka moments on the Camino. At kilometer marker 348.6, I uncovered no little vault with all the answers to life. Instead, just like life, I experienced a series of meaningful and small insights. I believe we all have an internal light, and the Camino acts as a rheostat to greatly increase the intensity. With care and awareness, I hope to keep that light glowing brightly until my last breath.
I continue to treasure the small moments that make up each and every day. A simple smile, a nice cup of coffee, a beautiful sunset, or some random act of kindness provides fuel for my light. When it all becomes too hard, I still use my “Refresh” move, walking in a circle, with or without my walking stick, to get a completely new perspective.
I am letting go of worry. Chronic worrying is detrimental to happiness. It is impossible to be happy and to worry at the same time. It is like trying to view a sunset with pirate patches covering both eyes.
For many years, people had extolled the virtues of deleting worry from my life. This was easy to say, but difficult to implement. During my million steps of reflection on the Camino, I spent some quality time focusing on the significant portion of my life that had been completely wasted on worrying about things outside of my control. The only thing we ultimately control is our reaction to events in our lives. I am spending much more time aligning myself with what is happening as opposed to trying to control what will or will not occur.
Another of my foundations for keeping the light aglow is to live in the Now. It is impossible to eliminate the past or avoid all pleasant or unpleasant memories. However, when I visit my past now, I try to go in, learn, and get the hell out! I am not going to be anchored by some event or trauma from my past. The same goes with the future. While hopes and dreams for a bright forecast are always present, I refuse to walk the rest of my life with eyes solely focused on the horizon. I yield to the current moment.
The Camino strengthened my relationships with friends, family, and myself. While meeting many friends from various nations made the trip a wonderful experience, the most enriched friendship I developed was with myself. It was a joy to rearrange my emotional backpack. My spiritual awakening made me realize that we are all connected and have a purpose. I am much more open to letting people into my life, and more importantly, to learning about their lives.
Kurt Koontz is the author of A Million Steps, a book about his journey on the Camino de Santiago. www.kurtkoontz.com @kurt_koontz
All photos courtesy and copyright Kurt Koontz
People often ask me, "Why walk the Camino de Santiago?" I received the following in an email from The Center for Action and Contemplation and this sums it up quite well!
Practice: Walking Meditation
Jonathon Stalls, a Living School student and founder of Walk2Connect, writes about learning how “we share a common journey of wanting to love and be loved; that we want to feel safe, comfortable, and connected; that we want to belong—somewhere. . . . We’re afraid of exposure and vulnerability. We’re afraid of the unknown. We’re afraid to be wrong. We’re afraid of abandonment. We’re afraid of weakness, of truly trusting, and the fragility of letting go.”
Stalls offers this wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh:
"When we practice [mindfulness], we are liberated from fear, sorrow, and the fires burning inside of us. When mindfulness embraces our joy, our sadness, and all our other mental formations, sooner or later we will see their deep roots. With every mindful step and every mindful breath, we see the roots of our mental formations. Mindfulness shines its light upon them and helps them to transform."
"I can’t think of a better way to bring mindfulness practice into our body and into the outside world than through walking, strolling, or rolling at one to three miles an hour. It changes everything. It trains us, both on the inside and the outside, to begin seeing God, the Great Spirit, in ourselves and in others in such foundational ways. This humble posture invites us into the fragile details behind our own breath, the curious creatures high in the trees, and the struggle in being a pedestrian in today’s time. Whether it’s twenty minutes or four hours, mindful walking can invite new ideas, new ways of seeing, and new ways of understanding with every step."
I invite you to step outside and walk mindfully, present to God’s presence in all things.
Join us on a Prayerful Path pilgrimage to walk mindfully on the Camino de Santiago! Liberate yourself from fear, sorrow and the fires burning inside and embrace your joy!
By: Mary Maddox, your fellow pilgrim
So, what is in your pack. What are you carrying along your Camino (life)? We each are on our own journey, each carrying our own stone. Who knows what the pilgrim walking next to you is carrying in his or her heart? Who knows the burdens they are carrying? That's why we, as fellow pilgrims, must welcome and greet each other like brothers and sisters in Christ. Only He knows how many stones each one of us is carrying. So we try to walk our Camino as we should walk through our lives, with acceptance, humility, knowledge, love, mercy and compassion.
The lessons we learn along the Camino de Santiago teach us how to live our lives with all of these virtues. We just need to remember to take these lessons home with us. Leave nothing behind!
Some of these lessons are simple ones....like accepting that we all walk at our own pace.... that our journeys are ours to enjoy in our own way. On my last Camino, I was walking with a friend. She walked fast. And because I was a bit slower, I called her the City Mouse and me the Country Mouse. What's funny is that she lives outside New York City and I am from the mountains of North Carolina. So we were definitely on our own Camino journey in our own way. We respected each other enough to not expect the other to change her city or mountain ways. Some days she walked slower and we shared stories, laughter and advice. Other days we walked alone to have our own private prayer time with the Lord. Isn't that how we need to accept others in our daily lives.....respecting them enough to let them walk their journey at their own pace, respecting them enough to not expect them to change unless they choose to do so. And finally to be present with them in the here and now....to find joy there.
On the Camino, weight becomes a priority. The rule is to not carry more than 10% of your body weight. You don't want extra weight and the burden of carrying it. And here too we see our daily lives happening. It's inevitable that we begin to think about the other kinds of weight we are carrying and hopefully begin to lay those personal burdens down. If we do shed a burden or two, it means we can walk with a lighter step, and have the lightness of being that we crave. Letting go and letting God take our burdens is possible. I found that wonderful truth on my Camino. I know you can drop them into His hands just as I did.
As you walk the Camino, you completely put your trust in the Lord. Especially when you have no reservations and end up finding a place to sleep when you arrive in town. I had this experience my first Camino. My son, Cale and his friend Cody and I were walking into O Pedrouza. This is the town right before Santiago. We were told a few nights earlier by a fellow pilgrim that you might want to reserve your rooms from here to Santiago because the Camino is getting more crowded. This was the summer of 2013 and we were entering Santiago on the Feast day of St. James! Due to poor wifi we were unable to reserve rooms. When we arrived in O Pedrouza, after walking for six hours that day, we walked another two hours looking for a place to sleep. We finally went to the church, each of us to separate corners and prayed. After a little rest, we headed back into town to find a taxi and to find a place to sleep. As we were standing on the street a gentleman came up to us and asked if we needed a place to sleep. His pension just had a cancellation for a triple room, exactly what we needed. We were given a beautiful room in a beautiful pension. God is so good! I took this lesson home with me. If you really trust in God, He takes care of you. Sometimes we get in the way trying to figure things out, but all I can say is truly trust. It might not be the exact answer you are looking for but He knows what we need. Just like a parent, He takes care of our needs not our wants!
These are just a few of my insights. So much more is waiting to be shown to you. Everyone's Camino is their own Camino. Pilgrims who have walked before you can share their experiences and give advice and that is valuable. But you will have your own spiritual experience. Different. But valuable to those around you.
There is a quote I have always liked and though I don't have it in front of me, it goes like this.....
”for spiritual growth we all need three types of relationships in our lives. We need those who are ahead of us to guide us, those who are on the path with us to share our journey with and those who are coming along behind us whom we can encourage.”
Yes every pilgrim needs to listen, every pilgrim needs to pray, every pilgrim is walking this Camino of life...going forth to find God.
Your fellow pilgrim, Mary Maddox