Tag Archives: the Way of St. James

More angels

2 Aug

As I mentioned before, kindness and consideration, no matter how small the gesture, mean so much on the Camino.

Here are a few more examples of angels in our midst:

The woman in a car who motioned to us to keep going on the street we were on when we found ourselves lost in the middle of Santiago.

My dad and Cathy, who gave us copies of Joyce Krupp’s “Walk in a Relaxed Manner,” a wonderful book about the Camino. I read it on the plane ride to Spain and its beautiful philosophy and message helped me to truly get the most out of my journey.

All the friends and family who sent prayers our way. We thank you for being part of our journey.

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Reflections: Part Two

1 Aug

One of the things that makes the Camino so interesting and awe-inspiring is the diversity of the people and their sheer numbers.

Those on the trail develop a certain comradeship. Despite the difficulty of the challenging walk, everyone is so friendly and upbeat. There’s a sense that we’re all in this together.

The standard greeting on the trail is “Buen Camino” (good Camino). And you soon discover that everyone greets one another.

We realized this most on the last day. Once we reached the city, we no longer heard the greeting because those we passed by weren’t pilgrims.

That was one of the reasons the last day was so arduous and unpleasant. The other was the length of the path in the city. We wrongly assumed we’d soon find ourselves at the church doors once we reached the city. But the trip through the city seemed to go on for miles and we had a hard time even finding the cathedral.

Every day the trail was filled with people; sometimes it was downright crowded. We were rarely alone on the path.

Some traveled in groups; others in pairs. There were families, solitary pilgrims and gaggles of noisy teenagers.

On the first day, we met a friendly group from Alacante that included three generations: a college-age son, his father and a rambunctious grandmother who walked faster than all of them. We met up with the group later in the day in the outdoor bar, where grandma was hoisting several beers!

There were several children, one as young as five. And there were plenty of elderly folk, some who moved very, very slowly and some who lapped us. There were overweight walkers and fit and trim bicyclists.

It was a fascinating mix of humanity!

Reflections: Part One

31 Jul

There is so much to reflect upon now that we have completed this amazing journey. I think it may be weeks, months, even years before the full lessons of the Camino are apparent to us.

As those lessons occur to me, I will share them here.

The experience of walking the Camino was unlike anything I’ve witnessed in my lifetime: thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, traveling by foot, bike or horse anywhere between 100 and 400 miles on an ancient path that ends with a majestic cathedral, where they glorify God. Truly inspiring.

The aspect I was most looking forward to on the Camino was solitude — not necessarily silence — but a time when I could unplug from my hectic life and experience some sort of introspection.

I was equally excited for Caitlin and her friend to experience some quiet thinking time. Their generation grew up with so many distractions. I wanted to have them to understand what it’s like to devote time to thinking.

The Camino affords you not only time and relative quiet, but its natural beauty serves as inspiration to think deeply and reflect.

What a luxury to have six days of solitude. Of course, it was painful and hard. Each hill seemed like a mountain.

But looking back now, already those bad memories are fading, and the peace and exhilaration I experienced remains at the forefront.

Santiago, here we come!

29 Jul

We finished Day Five, so we’ll begin the last day in the morning! It’s truly hard to believe that we are so close — it has seemed so far away for so long.

On the fifth day I can make some pretty accurate generalizations about my body; namely, I completely wear out after nine miles. At that point, my feet feel like they are encased in brick, my legs feel as though they will give out at any minute and my back feels like it might snap.

But the Camino provides for the weary. Just when I thought I couldn’t go on, we entered a magnificent forest of towering eucalyptus trees. So I was able to carry on to the outskirts of Arca, where we are staying in a pastoral bed and breakfast.

Our total today was about 12 miles. Based on what we gather from talking to other pilgrims, our pace is at the low end. Most people go between 18 and 25. Yikes!

Bottom line: I know now that I can make it. After five days, what’s one more?

We’re told you can see Santiago for miles, which makes the day seem faster or longer, depending on your perspective. For some, seeing the goal too soon can make the journey more arduous; for others, seeing the goal spurs them quickly on.

The path has definitely become more crowded the closer we get to Santiago. Everyone seems to have an extra lift in their step, as the excitement builds.

On to Santiago!

The eucalyptus forest seemed to energize us all! Caitlin mugs for the camera.

Arzua in the distance, shrouded by early morning fog.