I’ve woken in the early hours, my mind consumed by a question.
A friend posted on a FB page, asking “what now?” after the Camino. It’s a really valid question for most of us.
Some people just enjoy the experience of a long walk but most of us are affected by it in some way. The Camino is almost like a living thing…it tears you down, it plays with your mind but it supports you at the same time. Sometimes it’s like therapy on steroids, it heals, and it forms a tight knit community that bonds. No wonder there are so many armed services, police, nurses etc walking the Camino. The bond it creates is similar to that experienced by these people in their jobs. You need each other.
I wonder about those who just enjoy the walk. Are they not facing things or are they so ‘together’ that it can just be that….a walk?
I recently took a group on the Camino and found I had a mixture of these. It was interesting to watch. At least two of them “got it”. One already “had it” and the others….well it remains to be seen if there is any effect.
What is “it“?
I’m referring to introspection…..recognition of our flaws and strengths, reflection on our lives, consideration of those in it and those who have come and gone, ideas of how we can improve and hopefully enrich our lives, and just be better people. When you walk long distance. There is a lot of time to think….
I’ve said it before. The Camino is not a stroll in the countryside. It is tough and requires endurance, patience and inner strength. We are faced with many unfamiliar things like walking in severe weather conditions at times, mountains to climb and descend, sleeping in close quarters with strangers, learning to respect different cultural backgrounds and personalities. At the same time, we get to share, to laugh (a lot), cry (sometimes) help other people and form unlikely but wonderful friendships. Some even find new love on the Camino!
There is the old saying about the Camino Frances that crossing over the Pyrenees represents the ups and downs of your life, the Meseta (tableland) represents death of life as you know it, and the lush green forests of Galica represent rebirth.
As you know from my book, my talks and interviews, I’ve totally changed my life and the way I live after experiencing the Camino’s mystical powers. I am grateful for the opportunity and although some people say I’m brave, I don’t think so, I am just grateful for the chance to be able to get off the merry-go-round I was on and search for more meaning in life. I think people see me as brave because they are apprehensive about letting go of familiarity and security themselves. I was like that once, so I understand it, but the Camino taught me that I had the inner strength, the courage and the ingenuity to make things happen. I saw an opportunity and took it. It could be a ‘sliding doors’ moment.
I love that I now have friends in so many different countries and I treasure the chance meetings of really wonderful people that I now care deeply for.
It is so hard to tell people what the Camino is like, why it has such a grip on me, and what the attraction is. All I can say is that it feels to me what God is supposed to represent. It is a loving and caring environment, a place to safely let go and be supported, and it provides a great place to ponder about the meaning of life and why we are here.
So for those of you who wonder about how I can afford to travel and do this, how I found the courage to change my life and what draws me to Spain… I hope this makes it clearer. I learned that my life was too full of ‘stuff’ and I can live simply without the big income. I took a leap of faith, and I enjoy living in the company of like-minded people in a beautiful environment with old fashioned values.
How strange that a walk can have such an effect on people!