Soon, I will walk the Camino De Santiago from Saint-John-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela. I remember when I graduated from college and they called the ceremony commencement. I could not figure out why it was the beginning and not the end. I learned that it was the beginning of the next stage of my life. My commencement for long walks in nature started as a Girl Scout. I did some backpacking and then heard about the “Holy Grail” of backpacking the Appalachian Trail. I decided I was going to do it one day. One day never came, but it spurred a dream of taking a self-contained long walk. In the 1990’s I read a book by Shirley MacLaine “The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit”, this book reignited the flame that had burned down to an ember. I was going to take a long walk.
Once again, life got in the way.
My dream of a long walk had been set aside for more practical dreams, starting a career and becoming successful at a career. Starting a non-profit and being part of something much bigger than myself. Then Martin Sheen came along and the Camino walked its way back into my life, with his film “The Way”. The dream of taking a really long walk started to rise up again. Then my parents became ill and I turned to their care, once again banking the embers. This time I knew the ember were only temporarily banked. If I was going to do this, I needed to do it before I became “too old and too tired” as a Hosteler in the movie The Way, lamented.
I realized that there would never be the perfect time. My mother died in 2010 and my father died last spring. I am released from their care and have not gone back to work. Maybe now the perfect time. I better grab the opportunity before something else comes along to distract me. So my Camino is becoming, starting, commencing. I am training.
I have been haunting the Camino websites and Facebook pages for years, living vicariously with each person’s journey. It was not until I bought the plane ticket to Barcelona did it become real. I now read those posts with a different eye. I read them as a walker of the Camino, for that is what I am. I read them for practical tips and spiritual revelations. On the Camino Blogs, one of the things I hear over and over is that the Camino provides. Today it provided a pilgrim who made his Camino last June. He saw me on the trail in Tampa and asked what I was training for. He said
he used the same trail to train. He began sharing his knowledge with me. He adjusted my walking sticks to a more efficient level. He promised to email me his notes on his journey with the MUST Do’s. Incredible, it is already commencing and I have not left home.
He asked me why I was doing the walk. I hesitated, I have many reasons for doing the walk, but they can best be summed up in the word “Self-reflection”. I am also seeking a stronger connection to “God”, “Universe”, “Listening”, “Life’s Purpose”. I remembered when I told a friend I was walking the Camino, he immediately said “healing”. Yes, I am walking for healing. As I type the word “healing”, I could feel tears spring to my eyes. My friend, like me had spent several years taking care of a parent through the end of life. The movie “The Way” does an excellent job of following the main character “Tom” through his journey in grief, for the loss of his son. I too seek a time to reflect on the lives of my parents and to take the time to grieve, to put their lives and deaths into perspective and how their lives contributed to my life and my journey now.
Last night as I was reading posts on a Camino Facebook page, saw the following post. I wanted to share it with you. Grief is universal.
Dear Camigas, it's my last night at home in London before I embark on the Camino Frances from Roncesvalles tomorrow! I'm walking in memory of my beautiful Mum who passed away 5 months ago (it will be 6, when I'm on the Camino.)
I discovered this Irish poem and
it felt like a blessing for the Camino, so I thought I would share an extract with you too. Hope to meet some of you on The Way ❤
'May the nourishment of the earth be yours
May the clarity of light be yours
May the fluency of the ocean be yours
May the protection of the ancestors be yours
And may a slow
Wind work these words of love around you,
An invisible cloak
to mind your life.’
Yes, my Camino has commenced.