Buen Camino means Good Way. It’s how you wish someone a good camino. A greeting of connection and friendship. El Camino means The Way. Apparently in Greek it means: The path is the way. This greeting is most commonly used along The Way of St James or the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage in Spain that is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimages in the world.
This moment. Pause. Breathe. Finding this path has been a long time coming for me. Finally, the dots connected, and I got a glimpse of a section where the puzzle pieces of my life, connected with others, come together. I have a clearer picture and it is very exciting.
These are just SOME of the dots.
I watched the movie The Way (again) intentionally on New Year’s Day. Wanting this to be the start of my 2022 in finding my rhythm. Click on this link to watch the trailer.
Pilgrims have walked the Camino for over 1200 years. I know a few people who have walked the Camino de Santiago and have been inspired by their stories and photos. I was beginning to feel a little anxious and disappointed that I may never get there myself even though I feel such a longing. Then God showed me a different way and that I could do it right where I am. If you have read any of my 2022 blog posts (and even some prior) you have witnessed my desire to engage in contemplative prayer walks and seen the photos of some of my pilgrim trails. A pilgrim is a traveler typically on a physical journey on foot, to a holy place.
Over 2 years ago I purchased this book at a conference. There were several books there but this is the one I chose and the one I am reading right now. (signed by the author - love the personal message) I didn’t know it at the time but this cover photo was actually taken on the Camino by someone else. That someone else ended up being the Pastor BZ I have been listening to online all through the pandemic and still do. I didn’t even know the connection until recently.
When we went to the Island in February for our anniversary one of my goals was to do a prayer walk. That morning in my daily devotional the reading talked about Wilderness Wandering. Not a typical subject in that book. Coincidence? I think not. This is some of what was written:
Go to a place in nature where you can walk freely and alone. Ideally a forest, canyon, prairie or mountain etc.. (we had already planned to go to Englishman River Falls) Begin your wandering by finding or creating a conscious threshold, perhaps an arched branch overhead or a narrow passage between rocks. Step across the threshold quite deliberately and , on this side of your sacred boundary, speak no words but only expect. If you are called to particular place or thing stop and be still, letting your self be known and know through silent communion.
I was able to put this into practice and the experience was quite profound. For me, I also use this time to recite specific prayers and to pray by name for all my friends and family. Yes YOU!!
|This was my first threshold spot|
A couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary on YouTube called The Road to Santiago.
You can click here to watch The Road to Santiago film
It followed one man's journey on the Camino and I learned even more. It was moving and I want to watch it again to take notes. So many great quotes I thought I would remember but of course don't now. There was discussion about how the different sections of the trail strip you either physically, mentally or emotionally and fill you spiritually.
I realized how it is just like the seasons or lessons of life if you allow them to. It can push you to the edge. You come face to face with your demons. There is the shedding of your false self, burdens, responsibilities, mind clutter, and a desire to remove more literal clutter. I know I am also working through loss and grief, afraid of more loss to come. But at the same time there is an unexplained comfort and knowing I am getting closer to those we've lost. They aren't really lost and are with God and with me. I think it's me who was lost. Facing my own mortality. I am walking and working out my second half of life stuff and learning to die. I am walking toward my end which actually ends up being the beginning. Death to Life. When I surrender I don't have all the answers but I have much more peace and a knowing that I am being led on my journey. I am on the right path and and I am not alone. I can't really put it into words. It is simple and yet profound. I feel awe, a sense of mystery and yet also a knowing. And being known.
The Camino has become a symbol of MY LIFE JOURNEY. It may one day incorporate an ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela but is so much wider and deeper. Further up and further in. (Narnia) My true destination and focus is back to the restored and redeemed garden. To Jesus.
Two Sunday mornings ago Pastor BZ was preaching on James and John. This is the same James of The Way of St James (Camino de Santiago). BZ himself has walked the Camino several times and he was sharing photos and stories. There are statues of St James the pilgrim along the way for inspiration, to help people keep going when it gets tough. He was a humble servant with his pack, his scallop shell, his walking stick and gourd for water.
After church I went to a friend's birthday party in the afternoon. The first thing I noticed were subtle scallop shells on the napkins. It really felt validating and like confirmation to me.
The scallop shell is used as a symbol of direction all along the Camino, pointing pilgrims towards Santiago. (google it for better visual) Pilgrims wear this symbol themselves for identification and camaraderie. It also helps to ensure you are on the right track. It started when St James used the scallop shell during his pilgrimage to beg for food and water. Even the poorest people could fill the small shell so he always found help along the way. My niece (who has walked the Camino) just used hers to make a beautiful sign with her house numbers.
I don't have a statue of St James but I do have my Hummel for inspiration. It's a Dede thing. This little guy holds many dear memories and signifies so much to me. Too many to mention, too precious and too personal to share here. He is part of my childhood. He brings delight and comfort in my grief and in grief to come.
|I imagine him on his own journey|
All of this may not not make sense and may seem crazy or sacrilegious to some. I even have my own pilgrimage bag. (complete with shell) In the little notepad I have written a few prayers I recite and hope to memorize as I walk. The Beatitudes, the fruit of the spirit, prayer of confession and the Lord's prayer etc. One of them is the prayer of St Francis. He has always been one of my favourite Saints. He chose a life of poverty over wealth. He helped the poor and the marginalized, and lived among them. He had a deep connection with nature and animals. He too walked the Camino de Santiago. In the early nineties I got a St Francis statue that I put in my yard or on my patio. A bird was perched in his hand and a deer was at his side. I had to part with him when we moved to our apartment last year. No room and he was in rough shape.
|On my shell I have the cross of Jesus instead of the cross of St James|
Prayer of St Francis sung by Sarah McLachlan. Click on this link to listen Song Pray of St Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
If you would like to find out more about the Camino de Santiago click on this link. It has to the point info and visuals.
Many different people walk it for many different reasons.
I am currently reading a book my father gave me about 25 years ago or more. Even though I never read it, I took it along on all of my moves because it was important to him and I hoped to read it one day. About a month ago we went to visit a new church. Someone there asked if I had ever read this book. I said no but I think I have it at home. I was able to find it and dust it off. It's called Evangelicals on The Canterbury Trail. It is not actually about the Canterbury trail but it is about several peoples' spiritual journeys. It is the perfect time for me to be reading this and it is deeply resonating with my own story. I don't think this timing is a coincidence either.
|I feel connected to my dad reading this.|
Note - The Canterbury Trail is another very important pilgrimage trail. Chaucers' book the Canterbury Tales tells the story of a group of pilgrims on their pilgrimage to the Canterbury Cathedral written in 1392. I had heard of it but didn't know much about it. Now I want to read that too. And yes, would actually love to walk the Canterbury trail to the Canterbury Cathedral in person. So much rich history and beautiful scenery along the way.
For right now I am right where I am supposed to be. I have found my path. I am on my way.
Buen Camino to you on yours