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Camino de Santiago 500 miles across northern Spain

Now I begin. For almost a year, I have been drawn to the Camino de Santiago de Compostela like iron filings to a magnet. I never understood why. When I try to explain this strange obsession to myself, I find no reasonable explanation. Instead a list “virtues” bubbles up to the surface. These are my intentions in walking the Camino.

Simplicity: All I truly need can be reduced to a very few items weighing less than ten pounds. The many things I own, are all “frosting in the cake,” distractions from what is really important. I intend to carry home with me a sense of simplicity, and appreciation of how little I actually “need.” Clarity: My life is cluttered with too much busy-ness. I intend to sweep away my attachment to all those busy things that fill my days, and to come home with clarity of purpose. I will have more energy to dedicate to those things that are truly important. Penitence: I am burdened by the memory of all the times I have fallen short, times I have been hurtful, negligent, spiteful. By acknowledging my many short-comings I hope to achieve my next intention . . . Forgiveness: I intend to lighten my psychic load of guilt by achieving forgiveness for myself and the others in my life who have wronged me. Acceptance: This is a “coming of age” journey, a “change of life” celebration. I know the downhill slope is before me. I intend to accept it as gracefully, as I can without rancor. Endurance: A strenuous physical challenge has always been for me a metaphor for the ability to soldier on even when it becomes painful. At that point, the meaning of the game changes from finishing the marathon, beating my last 10K, or walking across Spain, to the deep breathing, concentration, positive self-talk needed to pull me through. I intend to return home with a renewed faith in my ability to endure. Openness: My busy-ness, my many self-imposed rules and disciplines, have weakened my flexibility. It has grown harder to throw my heart open to people who are not like myself, experiences that have not been carefully orchestrated, and instead revel in the unscripted opportunities that life gives me. I intend to return with a more open heart and mind. Attentiveness: In my “nose to the grindstone” existence, I have often failed to attend to the small wonders, unexplained blessings, senseless beauty of life. I intend to learn to “stop and smell the roses” strewn across my path. Connectedness: All is connected. There is a great spider web that binds all human beings, non-human beings, and non-beings, all the past, and all the future together in one huge, sticky, fibrous mass of connectedness. My body contains the same stardust as yours, the same stardust as the first single-celled manifestation of life, the same stardust that makes all the planets and galaxies of the universe. I have felt this connectedness often through my deep love of nature and my love of history. By walking in the footsteps of Charlemagne, El Cid, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, Lorenzo de Medici, many kings and queens, and millions of pilgrims of every description, I intend to feel this connectedness in a new, more profound way.

If you haven’t seen Martin Sheen’s movie, The Way, you might want to check it out. It’s a good visual of what the Camino looks like.

If you want to know more about the Camino, you can check this out:…/

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