I stood in Praza do Obradoiro with the Cathedral Santiago in the background, my trekking poles high above, reaching for the heavens in a V for victory. This was the final celebration of the summer of my 70th birthday in 2016. I had walked on the Camino de Santiago Francés Way, a pilgrimage across Northern Spain, starting with a 25 Km hike over the Pyrenees in France into Roncesvalles in Spain and on to Logroño. Then, after a night train, I continued from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela and to the End of the World, sections of Muxia and Finisterre, more than 320 Km, with all I needed in my backpack for six weeks.
On the trail, I found a new way of seeing, what’s in front of me, behind me and around the bend, but this time with the understanding that life is about change and surprise. The Camino taught me to accept and cherish this lesson.
The time I spent with other pilgrims, as in all my travels, reinforced my belief that we share commonalities and similarities as human beings, beyond borders. At the same time I recognize and respect the differences that make us unique. This is the power of the Camino journey.
I walked first with my friend, Craig and then solo, but always with the spirit and energy of pilgrims before me and now along the Way, many who became friends. I found my true Comfort Zone, risking the unknown and arriving alive and well along with the spirits of all the pilgrims who walked this journey in the past.
The Camino Provides, was a saying I learned to trust. While many make this trek as a religious pilgrimage, for me, as a Jewish woman who once considered the Camino impossible, because of my religion and my age, it was a personal and spiritual walk, an adventure beyond any way I had ever traveled.
Traveling alone, first on my 50th birthday in 1996 and many journeys since, brought me to this celebration, one I would never have predicted that summer I wandered the lonely hills in England and Scotland. Walking has always been my way of processing life. In a way, that journey was like a first Camino for me, a long walk, a time to think, plan and hope, to feel an inner spirituality and vision, to see past, present and future in a different light.
When I began planning for this Camino, I had no idea how several weeks of walking and meeting new friends would change my life. I’ve been home for months, but I’m ready to return. I want to live a simple life, to magically transport myself to Spain and walk unencumbered by material possessions, to carry all I need in my back pack, to travel lighter on this earth.
Every day counts when I have fewer years ahead of me than behind. Today, I try to live in my Comfort Zone and I’m always making plans for another journey.