Friday, July 10, 2009

The Camino de Santiago - A Life Changing Experience

June 25, 2009 As we walked into Santiago de Compostela on the last day of our journey, I was already feeling bitter/sweet about the Camino coming to an end. I was going to miss the excitement of each morning – What would we see? What would the weather be like? What kind of trails would there be? I loved hearing the Hoopoe bird that seemed to have followed us all the way from Roncesvalles. We had heard his coo coo clock sound nearly every day. I would miss him. I loved seeing the snails that covered the grasses along the trails in the morning. I would miss the incredible spring flowers and shrubs we had seen, the trees loaded with ripe cherries and the rose bushes that were heavy with bloom. The joy of seeing the land change from hour to hour and day to day had been so unexpected. How could walking be so different than driving through this beautiful land? But it was different. We slowed everything down. We started paying attention to basic details. How was our body feeling? Were our feet OK? Did we have enough water/food with us? We became more concerned about each other, more polite. We sometimes had walked separately for hours or together without talking. We spent a lot of time thinking; and each day we began our walk with a prayer. God became a bigger part of our daily life. The Camino offered us the chance to go into a church, hermitage, monastery or cathedral sometimes several times each day. After walking for several hours, it was lovely to walk into the cool, darkness of a quiet chapel to sit and rest and pray. I started to worry less and trust God more. The Camino had given me time to think about my life and pull away from the crazy details I had gotten caught up in. Now as we approached Santiago, we were going back to “reality”. Would I be able to keep my Camino perspective? At the Pilgrim’s Mass the next day, the priest reinforced why we had walked for 40 days. He said, “You have followed this path to Santiago to honor the message that St. James has given to each of us – the message of Christ’s love. Now you are on a New Camino that you will be on until you die – and that is a path to share Christ with others.”

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