After thoroughly enjoying Paris for the hours I was there (which was diminished due to jet lag- I lost a whole half a day due to exhaustion!) it was time to plane and train it to St. Jean de Port, via Biarritz. Traveling through places and learning how best to navigate is always one of my biggest fears. Mainly because it feels like there are many things that can go wrong. And this time- it was FLAWLESS. Still in shock. I had prepped, printed, saved to apps, mapped and you tubed as much as I could to feel “in control.” But I also remember THAT is always an illusion. In life, our controlled lives can turn on a dime should one find out someone you love is leaving you, has cancer, was in a car accident, is missing, your job does not need you anymore, a hurricane rolls on through or a fire claims your home… the list goes on. These terrible things are not in your control, but how you contend with the aftermath is… and life isn’t meant to be easy. It is meant to be lived. As heard on the Camino, “If you aren’t living, then you’re dead.”
I choose to live life and embrace it all. Someone assumed that I must not have been through any “crap” in life to have an attitude of appreciation and to trust in the Universe and to have faith in people and in God. But I have… don’t need to go into all the negativity but we must move on through and leave it behind and evaluate what the lesson was to be learned.
Traveling on the Camino de Santiago you know people are working through a lot of different things. Some people choose to share and others need to find the right time to do so. It is a very personal experience. I only asked people who asked me for my “why.” My reasons are many but the top of the list was for prayers answered in regard to the health of some people I love. People who I am grateful are alive and well today. Then there were the prayers I carried for others who needed their intentions lifted. And my own personal prayers for myself and my husband and son. Truthfully, when people shared their reasons, it made me feel a little voyeuristic. No person’s reason is more significant than another’s. A love of trekking is as good a reason to walk the Camino as is to process the stress of a job that lead one down a bad path or to mourn a lost friend or to help raise money for a good cause or to turn inward. There are no wrong reasons to walk. I also think that once walking, one’s reasons may shift and develop. Having only walked from Aug. 22 to the 29th due to time constraints (St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Lorca, Spain) my inner life was not as of yet challenged as those who will continue onward. Knowing the end is near allowed me to have a different perspective. I really wanted to feel it all and to enjoy deeply these moments as it was too short and fleeting. Praying was often hard due to the attention necessary on the difficult ascents and descents where footing was an issue. I also wanted to connect with others as I walked which also was hard because I am a slow and steady walker who likes to take photos and smell flowers and enjoy a refreshing ice cold stream flowing over my hot feet. Moments like these were precious and even better when shared-even when just with a stranger or two!
The walking of the Camino de Santiago- the Way of St. James- may not be everyone’s idea of an ideal way to spend vacation time- but for me- it provided connection, introspection and reflection. And I look forward to more time on the path with new friends from all around the globe.
So I have a Camino card with my contact info on it. I generally forget to give them out. I ordered them for my first camino- The Portuguese from Valença to Santiago. On it I have :
A sojourner is defined as one who stays temporarily. I like this word to describe me. We are all just “temporarily” residing here on this earth until the next phase. We don’t know how long that stay will be for and we need to make our time count. Whatever that means to you.
While walking, one comes across memorials to fallen pilgrims along the Way. A very in your face reminder that tomorrow is not promised and that this undertaking has a level of risk.
One wonders the hows and whys. I shared with my family that should anything happen to me while on my walk, I would be ok with that because I was pursuing something I desired greatly to do. I wanted my loved ones to be assured that it was my choice and that whatever the outcomes- it would be ok. Morbid I know but I couldn’t help but think “What if?” and wouldn’t want to leave them feeling that perhaps I would have chosen differently.
As it turns out, all went fine and I returned from this small portion of my journey across the north of Spain. But in life at home- I heard of someone else’s unexpected loss of a loved one. And this broke my heart. We are not promised tomorrow. You could be doing that which you do each day and be taken from this life. Be certain to be living your days as you want to be, don’t accept anything less than what is best for you.
I ate escargot and saw the Eiffel Tower from the top and saw Notre Dame😢 and a thousand other things. I braved the Metro, did it correctly once and incorrectly the second time. I am exhausted. So enough for now dear readers!
I am acclimating to being alone in this trip. Traveling in the plane and prior was challenging negotiating the backpacks and trying to use the toilet. It is beneficial to have a partner who can watch your items leaving one unfettered!
So far I am feeling well and courageous. Walking through the streets is wonderful. Many colors of people and sights… lovely. Quiet. The Parisiennes are on holiday it seems. It is a good time to visit Paris.
“What matters most are the simple pleasures so abundant that we can all enjoy them…Happiness doesn’t lie in the objects we gather around us. To find it, all we need to do is open our eyes.”
From “The Little Prince” by
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I love the book “The Little Prince” by Saint-Exupéry, as a children’s story and a spiritual/philosophical treatise on life.
What I have taken away from this lovely little book is that we have to invest time in that which we love, we have to keep our eyes and hearts open to the wonders of this wonderful life and the world we are given, and we have to take chances.
My Camino walking is a reflection of those precepts. I embrace this time as a chance for me to stretch my wings and step out of the daily grind. I don’t want to be like the businessman or the lamplighter—- I want to appreciate the time I have been given. I want to go back home and be renewed. I want to be in the moment when I am gone, appreciating that which is before me while away. I want to come home and do the same. I realized recently that in planning trips, I am not in the moment. It was a harsh realization. I pride myself on trying to stay present. But when I trip plan, I become obsessive a bit. Ask my dear husband. I spend hours devoting time to researching, reading, planning and this time around even learning some French. Is it an escape? Hmmmm… I am going to begin to do it more mindfully.
So, as this next day winds down, I invite you, dear reader, to join me and follow my Camino to Estella- for this first part of my journey. I hope to blog each night with highlights and insights from my day. I begin my walk on the 22nd of August (after a little fun in Paris.) Peace to all!
Have you read “The Little Prince”? If you have what is your favorite quote?
Walking the Camino is a time for me to center my prayer and be more present to God. And, in turn, to be more present for others in the form of prayer. Before my last Camino, I visited Fatima (by car) and although it was not my favorite place (I was overwhelmed by the commercialization) I was still moved by people’s devotion. I put out a call for people to provide me with written petitions which I placed in the fires of the candles at the Shrine. And I carried my own prayers for the people who shared their intentions with me. Some were sealed and some were shared with me. I figure I don’t need to know the request- by thinking and writing it down it has gone out into the Universe and God knows already.
I again am carrying intentions and this time around in my morning prayers and as I stop in churches along my path, I will lift those intentions to God. It is a way to carry the love of those who I care about and a way, I hope, to connect and help. Prayer changes things. You may not get your prayer “answered” in the way you anticipate but I do believe it helps to change how you receive the answer.
My main personal intention this time around is to offer my gratitude for some answered prayers. I have also some intercessions I need some help with and God knows what they are…
As I sit here at 3 a.m. —three days from flying out to Paris for a fun couple of days before walking, I hope you will lift me in prayer for a safe trip (with no anxiety attacks) and decent weather! Thank you dear readers!
It all began with the book “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho, a Brazilian author whose writing I fell in love with after reading said book. Sometime after “The Alchemist” I came across “The Pilgrimage,” my introduction to this Camino. A walking pilgrimage- through the north of Spain??? What??? I recall learning in European History Class in 10th grade about medieval pilgrimages but this was the 90’s- is this for real? Plenary indulgences? Huh? And so my questions about this walk started to fester and require tending. Shirley McLaine did it as well, and published a book about it in 2000.
I was hooked. And I knew that if I put it out into the Universe, the Universe could make it happen! I believe in God and that my wishes when aligned with good can be made manifest.
I learned that there are many roads to Santiago. And some people walk out there front doors and just keep walking- I couldn’t do that- the pesky Atlantic Ocean is in the way… but many people walk out their front doors in Germany, Poland, France etc. and just walk on and on til they reach Santiago in the area known as Galicia in the Northwest part of Spain. Hmmm… Impressive to say the least.
In 2010, a movie about the Camino became a bit of a hit, “The Way” with Martin Sheen and his real life son Emilio Estevez introduced (in a fictional movie) the Camino to a wider audience. That further enticed me! It came to be that in 2012 I would make the decision to walk in 2013. I researched different ways (more about that at another time) and decided that the Camino Portuguese was my path of choice. And so the planning began. And much to my surprise, my husband decided he would join me! It was wonderful but at one point on the first day I was ready to quit! Eddie helped to ground me and encourage me. I developed severe blisters after soaking my feet and not drying them thoroughly! Lesson learned!
SoI have already received one COMPOSTELA, the “diploma” for walking at least the last 100 km to Santiago de Compostela. I eventually want to receive one for walking the 500 mile Camino Frances. This upcoming walk will get my first 70 miles in!
I will revisit Spain until I complete the CF (Camino Frances). My next trek will take place I hope in the spring. We shall see. I would like to walk in all four seasons. The Camino and its magic draws me in… It is hard to explain. Maybe as I walk I will find words to describe it to you.
Peace for now, dear readers! Please like and share should you feel so inclined. 🙏🏼♥️