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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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