In a dream, I’m a star, one among the multitudes, at home in The Milky Way, that guided early pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James. This ancient path of legends and myths, calls me from my dream, to once again walk the route that countless pilgrims have walked, a journey of surprise and mystery, questions and challenges. I may start out early mornings in the dark, guided by stars, but end up walking in daylight, following the sun, east to west toward Santiago de Compostela (from Latin, Field of Stars).
I love that we can’t really count all the stars, at least from our place on the trail. More important than numbers, as I embark on the second year of walking this path, is what I learn and feel. What visions will I experience, from outside and inside? Will I meet other pilgrims to walk with daily? Will I know when to stop and walk at my own pace, to love this Camino?
Numbers play a big part on the Camino, from how many walk, sellos (stamps on the pilgrim passport), how far, how many times, how heavy your backpack, how many different routes, how long to get from one stage to another, how many bedbugs, blisters, sleepless nights, new friends? How old were you for your first and maybe last Camino?
I recently read a post on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim forum about the composition of pilgrims’ age groups, just some of the statistics collected by the Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago de Compostela. While more pilgrims are walking each year, the age range has stayed the same the last few years: “ages <30: 23%; ages 30-60: 55%; ages >60: 22%.”
In 2016, my 70th birthday year, I shared the Camino with my friend, Craig. We started together, then after a few weeks, each walked our own Camino, separately reaching Santiago and collecting our Compostela, the certificate of completion (in Latin), for our spiritual or religious walk, at the Pilgrims’ Office. He walked the entire 800 Km. I am still working on that amazing feat (feet).
As I begin my Camino, I’m reminding myself that I am not 30-60 years of age or even close. It’s my Camino, filled with my own physical challenges, limits and emotional highs and lows. How lucky am I to even consider this physical and spiritual adventure. In a few days, when the stars are still out, I’ll leave for the airport for the first stage of this journey. I’m ready again to lace up my boots and walk with (I don’t really know how many) pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. I hope you can join me. Buen Camino.