Camino de Santiago (aka Way of Saint James) was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middles Ages. Today, it is one of the most popular treks in the world with almost 330,000 pilgrims (even mix of men and women) arriving at the Pilgrimage Office in Santiago de Compostela last year. Although there are now many routes to Santiago, the traditional trek of 500 miles across northern Spain is the one I chose, in the accompany of a good friend, Pete, and his brother, Martin. The experience exceeded our expectations.
In A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley, the author asks readers to ask this question: Why am I doing this? So, I asked myself that question, reflected on it, and came up with this answer: I’m walking the Camino to enjoy the company of God and fellow pilgrims, step-by-step… My goal was not to get to Santiago de Compostela, which takes about five weeks (I was going for three), but to enjoy the journey in good company. Years ago, I was given a plaque with the inscription, “The Journey is the Reward.” Although I believed that statement to be true, I didn’t live that way, and it bothered me. So, I decided the Camino would be a step-by-step journey, not a destination. And so, it was…
On the Camino I sometimes walked with Pete and Martin, somethings with others, and sometimes alone. To give you a taste of my experience, I share a few selections from the journal I kept. April 25th – The joy of hiking for me today was meeting interesting people from all kinds of places, who are walking the Camino for all kinds of reasons. I spent a lot of time walking with Conner, who just finished a Bachelor degree in Biochemistry, and will be starting Medical School in the Fall. Conner is walking with his mom and aunt. Wow! April 27th – Walking alone was a good time for me to reflect, pray and thank God for this amazing experience. The trail was quite picturesque and pleasant with streams, pastures and woodlands. On the way I came across some fellow pilgrims trying to get a horse unstuck from a barbwire fence. I pitched in and we were able to set the horse free. Great comradery! April 29th – I connected with Julius (aka Juju, a 6’7” young man from Germany. He shared his story, and I shared mine, including my faith. Juju is searching for purpose and meaning in life. He gave me a big hug when we parted, and said that he hopes we meet again. I hope so, too! May 1st – It’s impossible to describe the beauty and simplicity of walking trails on a lovely day that moves one leisurely from mountain to meadow to farm to woodland to wheat field to olive grove. The views are magnificent, whether wildflowers up close or snow-capped mountains in the distance. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
Each day on the Camino I had a daily word, a thought to ponder and a verse to apply. One particular word became especially precious, because it encapsulated the entire experience, and continues to serve as a good reminder for what matters, and what does not. The word is CONTENT. Ponder this: CONTENT is a state of being satisfied, not with things alone, but with life itself. Apply this: If we have food and covering, with these we will be CONTENT. (1 Timothy 6:8). On the Camino I had all my worldly possessions in a 13-pound pack, enough food each day, a roof over my head each night, beautiful scenery to behold each moment, and wonderful company each step. I was CONTENT. I am CONTENT!
To view my Camino photo album, click Camino de Santiago – 2019