For decades, walking the Camino de Santiago has been on my bucket list. When I first declared the desire to undertake this pilgrimage, it was admittedly more for the physical accomplishment and being able to travel to a destination I’ve always wanted to visit. Whether it was timing or lack of commitment, my Camino dream never came to fruition.
The Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St. James, began a millennia ago as a religious path and pilgrimage in honor of the apostle St. James, who evangelized in locations along the Camino Portuguése, and whose remains are said to be buried at the Cathedral de Compostela in Santiago, Spain. The present day Camino invites and welcomes all who wish to walk its’ historic paths. Just as there are hundreds of thousands of peregrinos who travel the various routes of The Way each year, there are hundreds of thousands of reasons why they make this trek. From honoring one’s own religious convictions to raising one’s spiritual awareness, to the physical challenge, each pilgrim has committed to something that will transform their lives in some way.
The foreward in John Brierley’s guide, A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Portugués, captures my feelings so eloquently:
“That we might find a place to eat and sleep at the end of long days walking–but also, and crucially, that we might support each other to dive into the mysteries of our individual soul awakenings, without which all journeying is purposeless. We have a sacred contract, a divine function, and a reason why we came here…Maybe this is the point in your life where all your neat and tightly held beliefs get shattered so that you can begin to piece together who you really are and what your part in God’s plan really is.”
As the world is waking from the events of the past two years, I too have experienced an awakening in my Spirit. Having been locked down and physically disconnected from not only friends and family, but from the world has led to a greater appreciation and love for the connection that our Higher Power provides. At its most elemental, we are called to witness divinity not only in ourselves, but in all others. The same Power that created me also created you, and created all of the people whose paths we cross on any given day. By recognizing that everything that your eye falls upon was all borne from the same loving intelligence there can be no separation, only love.
It is this desire to experience profound connection and purpose that led to my decision to now commit to walking the Camino Portuguése de Costa in September. It is also the spiritual and physical challenge of walking the nearly 200 miles from Porto, Portugal to the Cathedral de Compostela that has chosen for me this time to walk. While I am physically older than I was when the Camino first piqued my interest all those years ago, I feel as though a certain level of spiritual maturity has readied me better than any physical abilities could to appreciate and understand the challenges and blessings that await me.
It is said that the Camino will take care of all those who choose to walk it. There is something in the shared experiences of peregrinos and hosts alike that form bonds likely unattainable by staying safely ensconced in the routine of our lives.
“…whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the Universe. It’s your mission on earth.”~Paulo Coehlo from ‘The Alchemist”
The desire to walk the Camino was engrained in my soul long before I recognized it. My life experiences have led me to this point, and this decision, at precisely the right time.
These Camino Chronicles will follow my journey, from this decision, to my preparations and, finally, to the journey of a lifetime. I hope that you will follow along, and while the Camino might not be part of your journey, perhaps these stories will inspire you to, as Rumi so eloquently offered, “seek that which is seeking you.”