St Jean Pied de Port 2018

August 25, 2018

We sit around the table with Joseph, our host, at the head. We are all strangers but he calls us family. We share our names, our country, our reasons for being here tonight. A woman from Holland is looking for peace. A man from Arizona comes with a grateful heart. A man from Korea hopes for direction. We are all here because we are needy. We are lacking. We are hopeful. Around this table is where we begin to let our guard down, where we begin to trust. Over the next month, for us nine days, we will form a community of people from all walks of life, all beliefs, all languages. We will become a people with open hearts. No one is an outsider because we will all suffer and hope together. So it is on the Camino de Santiago. My emotions are almost uncontainable. Tomorrow we walk. Tomorrow we unite. Tomorrow we are one.

Always On My Mind

It occurred to me the other day that my Camino backpack, Bluebell, once again sits by my bed, walking sticks behind it. The same place it sat for over a year, packed and ready to go, before embarking last September on a most fulfilling adventure on the Camino de Santiago. Interestingly, outside of removing my clothes for washing, I have never unpacked it. It sits there holding the headlamp that guided me each morning out of a sleepy village, the pocket knife that cut meats and cheeses for midday snack, the Buff that served as a neck scarf on cold mornings/a hair tie on warm afternoons and other cherished essentials of a pilgrim. I’m not sure why I never emptied it. Perhaps because it would mean the trip was truly over. Recently, this pack has become more than an inanimate object. It reminds me. It beckons me. It calls me. “Come, let’s adventure. Let’s walk.”

I had told a friend while researching the Camino de Santiago that I thought I could easily get hooked on trekking. It seemed like something that suited my interests. Combining travel, minimalistic packing, exercise, beautiful scenery, good food and good conversation with new friends from around the world sounded dreamy. And now, having done it, I can attest to the fact that it is!

I still have not fully processed how the 31 day trek changed me but here are a few things I do know. 1) I now see myself as an athlete. By nature, I’m a creative and lack any and all motivation to exercise. After returning from the Camino I knew I didn’t want to lose the level of fitness I had obtained through training and trekking. I now faithfully workout two days a week with my wonderful trainer, Sam. 2) I realized it was time to reinvolve myself in the arts. I’m once again taking jazz dance classes and loving it! 3) I want to continue to dream and live a fruitful life. So, I started a youth theatre business. I’m currently directing a musical at a local middle school and planning three drama camps for this summer.

There’s something more though. It’s the thing I can’t yet describe. It’s a tangible sense within that strengthens me. It’s personal and it’s spiritual. It stirs and creates life. It’s knowable and unknowable. It will always be with me, beckoning me to live vivaciously.

In the meantime, the tangible sight of Bluebell sitting there reminds me of the beauty of solitude, the thrill of adventure and the invigoration of trekking. It’s presence is stirring up a curiosity about other pilgrimages, the cost of flights and a recent invitation to adventure.

Snippets and Snapshots

I have a number of photos and stories I wasn’t able to share while in Spain so will be posting some here over the next weeks.

Here’s a collection of door and window photos. Europeans have such unique structures and the doors and windows are beautiful. 

When I took this final photo, a lady happened to step out of her house. I was caught! She turned around and looked at me with surprise. I asked if it was okay to take a photo of her door. Her facial expression definitely communicated her concern for my sanity. “This ugly door?”, she said. Then shook her head as she walked off and said, “Sure.” I got another photo but this one is definitely most interesting. 


**I need to apologize to those of you who don’t have Facebook. I posted our arrival into Santiago on FB only and forgot that some of you were following only on WordPress. Here’s the post and thank you so much for following and all your encouraging comments!! 

Santiago de Compostela! 

Feeling so much right now! 

Goodnight Camino. It’s been an unbelievable journey. You’ll be on the forefront and the deep recesses of my mind for a very long time. I hope at some point I understand what you mean to me. What I do know now is that I love you.

Finisterre, the end of the world.

The Day Before Tomorrow 

I’ve come to love this Galician soup. It’s the perfect fall meal after 5-7 hours of walking through the farmlands that produced it. Tomorrow we walk into Santiago, exactly one month after leaving St Jean Pied de Port, France and after 2 1/2 years of dreaming about this day. It’s hard to believe this journey is coming to an end. On one hand, I’m so ready. On the other, it’s hard to let it go. I’m not sure I can sum up in words what this has meant to me. I can share stories and express feelings but I think it will take a while to actually process this whole thing. At this point, I’m at a loss for words. What I do know is that this has been such a gift. The time with Scott and Ryan has been priceless. The time alone on the trail has been priceless. The new friendships from around the world, priceless. That’s all I can think to say for now.

I guess like the ingredients of the Galician soup, the elements of this experience need to simmer a bit. Let me get back to you later.