It is time to return. The Camino has been calling since only a few days after I returned home late last summer. In one week I will be on the Way again. As before, I plan to begin my pilgrimage in St. Jean Pied de Port, a small French village nestled in the Pyrenees. My destination: Santiago de Compostela and the final resting place of St. James, an apostle to Jesus and the patron saint of Spain. Along the way, I will strive to immerse myself in Spanish culture and marvel at the beauty of antiquity that may be observed continuously. I hope to see much, feel much, taste much, and to live with a constant feeling of inner peace.
In some ways this walk will be similar to my first Camino. In many ways it will be different. Even though I’ll be repeating the Camino Frances, I plan to travel some of the alternate routes off of the main one, while I’ll still make my way through most of the same cities, towns, and villages that make this journey so special. In all likelihood, I’ll spend significant time in a few of the same places. But I also plan to visit sites I passed by back in August and September of last year. I’ll also venture on to Finisterre (the end of the world) and Muxia, after arriving in Santiago.
And of course, the pilgrims with whom I share the adventure will be different. There’s something truly inspiring about setting out on a journey of around eight weeks without knowing who I will encounter and from what countries these fellow travelers will have come. That in itself is part of the mystique of the Way….camaraderie and fellowship with those who are different, but with whom we share the greatest gift of mankind…our humanity. We are all seekers, transients on this planet, trying to better understand each other’s uniqueness.
Like before, I expect my faith to increase as I, a member of the United Methodist Church, visit cathedrals and churches several hundred years old and attend Mass with Catholics from around the world. El Camino de Santiago offers all of its sojourners the opportunity to experience the timelessness of Christianity. Pilgrims of 2018 walk the same routes that their brethren have traversed for over one thousand years. We will share our stories, our faith, sleeping quarters at times, and an abundance of good food at Pilgrim dinners. And together we will be afforded the opportunity to receive a special blessing each night at the Pilgrim Mass. I am smiling already in anticipation.
I plan to journal again as well. Some entries will be descriptive. A few informative. And I imagine that many will be reflective. It’s a challenge not to look within oneself often while experiencing so much of the grandeur that God affords us. Hopefully, many pieces will provide my readers with a sense of connectivity to those with whom I will be walking. I pray I can accomplish the task of truly sharing my Camino with each of you. The next adventure is just over the horizon…soon I will be back on the Way, again heading toward Santiago.