As I am preparing to head to Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPDP), a small-town at the base of the Pyrenees where I will start my pilgrimage of about 500 miles to Santiago to Compostela, I find myself having conversations with friends, family and people I don’t even know sharing the journey that’s ahead of me.
There are many who don’t know anything about the Camino and then there are those people who have done it themselves, have heard of someone who has or have seen a documentary and are somewhat familiar with it.
Those whom have never heard of it, you try to explain it and they don’t get it. They don’t see the value in it, the freedom, or the journey, nothing resonates.
Those who have done it are encouragers of the best kind. They give lots of insights and recommendations and yet they don’t judge you on how or what you are feeling. None of the, “you have to do it this way or you shouldn’t do it that way.” Love that.
Those who have watched a documentary or have known someone who’s walked it, they want nothing more to walk it one day and they are so kind and supportive.
My Aunt, Carolyn Wood, who has walked the Camino two times, two different routes and who will walk it again this fall, has given me such great advice. Her latest words to me were, “The Camino has it’s own lessons and sometimes you don’t even know what they are until sometime after. Be alert and willing to accept what is has for you.” She has actually said so much more but my Google account deletes my emails and I don’t have hers anymore and I don’t know how to change that, ugh!
The other day I was in a department store buying my son a wallet. The one he has, I bought for him many years ago in Florence, Italy. As I was telling the salesperson, he asked me if I travel a lot. I said I like to, in fact on Sept. 3 I’m going to Spain. His eyes twinkle, my signal to go on. I tell him I’ll be hiking and then he says, I believe I have heard of this. I tell him it’s The Camino and boom, a 10 minute conversation begins and it leads to; his friend he grew up with owns a restaurant in Madrid. He gives me all the information and I tell him I will go to the restaurant and share the story.
I have several stories like this, so random and yet connected by “THE CAMINO.”
I can’t always articulate what I am feeling now and I don’t know how it will end: however, the Camino is going to be an amazing journey.
I hope you are sharing what is ahead of you and the joy you have experienced while loving others regardless of race, culture, religion, and political party. The Camino is a safe place for all!
Love, Love, Love, the international Language!
A quick bit on My Aunt.
My Aunt was an Olympian and won a Gold Medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome as a swimmer. At the time she was the youngest female to win a Gold Medal.
She grew up to become an amazing person and humanitarian. She was also a Governess for Ethel and Bobby Kennedy.
I can’t believe all the wonderful things she has done for people across the world. Not to long ago she went through a divorce and decided to walk the Camino.
She later wrote a book about her experience as a Tough Girl.
She writes about her days of training as a girl for the Olympics and then how she has survived her divorce. All of this comes to her while walking the Camino.
During her journey she reflects back on her struggle as an Olympian and a woman going thru a divorce. How tough is she? The Camino gave Carolyn her answers.
Tough Girl, An Olympian’s Journey by Carolyn Wood