Nov 5, 2018
I've decided to go for a walk; not just any walk, but a pilgrimage/walk across Northern Spain. It's just under 800 kilometers/500 miles.
Why? I crave a new adventure, a spiritual meditation. Maybe I'm after a soul cleansing, or perhaps I just want to truly live. I am about to reach the grand, old age of 70. It's time to walk my adventure while I still can, while the spirit moves me.
Through out my life I have always been an adventurer, a trekker, a traveler. But, if ever asked about walking 800 kilometers, I would have said, "You've gotta be kidding." And yet, I love walking, especially in nature and in new places.
Last July I switched on my computer to YouTube and up came a video showing a couple walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela across Spain. Each day they they would walk another 20 plus kilometers, and eventually it took them 29 days to reach their destination of Santiago. It was a challenge. But for me, it looked do-able. I know I can walk 20 kilometers. I just need to practice so I can tackle 20 or 25 kilometers per day for over a month. With a backpack.
I then watched more videos of Camino trekkers and was overwhelmed to see people of all ages. Young people, many retirees, some in their 60s and 70s. I watched and shared the joy of people in their 80s, and one lady in her 90s doing this walk. If they can do it, so can I. And, as I have the time, I will spread my walk over 45 days.
"The Way" started hundreds of years ago as a pilgrimage to pay homage and pray to the relics of Saint James (friend, cousin or brother of Jesus) who is reputed to be buried within the Cathedral at Santiago. After Jerusalem and Rome, Santiago is regarded as the third most holy, Catholic, place on earth.
Many still walk the Camino as a religious pilgrimage, but others journey for various reasons. Some, to clear their head from a tragedy in their lives, some for the sport, some as a challenge from every day life.
Am I a Pilgrim? Well, not in the religious sense, but perhaps spiritually.
I'm not looking for anything except to feel like I am truly living my life and enjoying the moments. Walking the Camino is like the journey of life itself and each person treks it on their own terms and in their own way. I am no different.
I am also a major history buff. The landscape of Northern Spain is filled, and in places littered, with old buildings and ruins; churches, monasteries, castles, farms, homes and villages. The Camino is a walk through the history, of not just a country, a people, and a religion, but Spain set out to conquer the world with it's culture and language. The history of Spain is the history of the western world.
In the Spring I plan to fly to Bayonne in Southern France and take the train to Saint Jean Pied-du-Port, a small, French town nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains. From there, I will set off on my curious and difficult walk taking the "French Route" over the mountains and across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.
Until then I am packing and training, and impatiently waiting the next five months in anticipation of a wonderful adventure of meaning, learning, joy, discomfort, blisters, exhilaration, humanity, sleepless nights, sore legs, self reliance, purpose and life.
Now, how do I cull my backpack down to 20 lbs?
PS. I will be walking this on my own, with the support of my lovely wife who will meet me in Santiago.
"We are pilgrims on the earth and strangers; we have come from afar and we are going far."
- Vincent van Gogh. 1853 - 1890
"Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much...."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Country Life, 1858
"Your soul knows the geography of your destiny and the map of your future. Trust this side of yourself. It will take you where you need to go but it will also teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey"
― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara Book of Celtic Wisdom
Here is a prayer from Sir Frances Drake.
It tells us about our complacency
and apathy for the world around us:
"Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love."
- Sir Frances Drake 1540-1596
Buen Camino! Full Documentary
The Way - Movie Trailer (2011) HD
✈ Camino de Santiago 2017 | Frances Route
A Camino de Santiago Story: To The End of the World
The Camino, an interview with guidebook author John Brierley- Part 1
Introducing the Camino - author John Brierley - Part 2 - The History of the Camino
Introducing the Camino - author John Brierley - Part 3 - The Camino Pilgrim
at 7:56 PM