Today is my ninth day walking the Camino. I left pre-dawn, 6:30am, to appreciate the setting near-full moon and the rising of the sun. As I walked, a couple from South Africa asked as we hiked along together, “Why do you walk the Camino?”
I realized suddenly that my Camino goals and reasons had changed, and I found myself stuttering to reply. In only a week my consciousness was different. In St Jean Pied de Port, my first albergue, all the pilgrims had shared their Camino motivations during the dinner meal.
I remember expressing that my journey was a spiritual adventure; I wanted to both challenge myself for a very large goal (to walk 500 miles in six weeks), to walk it as a fundraiser for the construction of our new community temple, and to go deeper inside myself to find more and more spiritual inspiration through the Camino Pilgrimage. I loved that it is a route walked by hundreds of thousands of people for 1200 years.
Much of my reasonings remain the same, but similarly to when I have done summer solo backpacking hikes in the Sierras in California, I anticipated I would do this truly alone. I was wrong.
The Camino is a family. Everyone is so unique and yet so like-minded in the goal to gain some sort of inspiration and to walk the journey. I came now to very much appreciate the “family.”
(Passing a Buddha along the way today.)
In fact, I came to be walking along with, on and off for the last three days, a delightful and fun group of six women. When one is short a Euro coin to pay for the cafe meal, another offers to cover. When another runs out of water or snacks, everyone shares. We point out interesting and beautiful sights to the person sharing that moment in time with us. We laugh together. We philosophise. We share our stories, we listen, we support, we walk. We also separate for hours in silent personal retreat.
And among the most important concerns: the consideration of feet! We stop together to attend to many blisters, to change socks, to offer encouragement. Blisters can be so painful and bring forth tears in hardy souls. Such amazing inner strength and determination they have. I say a prayer of gratitude that I am blessed to have none. The Camino is not a solo journey, I realize, it’s one of family, caring and compassion.
(Dinner in the town square tonight in Logroña. Eggs over “chips,” what Americans call fries, with blue cheese on top. Filling and satisfying.)
There is a saying, “The Camino provides.” It certainly seems to ring true each day with the moving community of walkers and the caring we provide for each other. My Camino has already rewarded me with the blessing of these dear friends.
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