Hello, Readers. Last month, I asked you this question: Was Your Camino Life-Changing? I’m happy to report that I received many stories, as unique and special as the pilgrims who sent them to me. I plan to share them with you, a few each blog, some long, some brief, but all expressing personal, as well as universal experiences, like courage, transformation, romance, risk-taking, pain, perseverance, humor, introspection and more. I’ll add a few of my pictures along the Way. Men and women, pilgrims from USA and abroad, contributed their stories and their philosophies. Some were comments on this blog and others from the Camino de Santiago Forum. Thank you!
Kerri from USA wrote: “The Camino has continued to shape my life each and every day since my return. I am lucky enough to continue to be involved with the Camino through mentoring those who are thinking of doing a Camino for the first time, by continuing to volunteer as a Hospitalera (a way to experience the Camino in a completely different way – although this is not for everyone), and doing what I can to provide events and gatherings of purpose for the local area pilgrims. Ha. All of it is volunteer and is a lot of work, but I believe the process of walking the Camino – however one chooses to do it – is so valuable that whatever I can to get someone to their starting line, that is what I do. I think walking the Camino makes better human beings out of each and every one of us (in our own special way.)” Check out The Sacramento Pilgrims website and Sacramento Pilgrim Facebook Page that Kerri and other pilgrims have started, facilitated and maintained, as well as consider attending the Camino 101 programs, as well as pilgrim gatherings and hikes that they organize. Thank you, Kerri!
Thank you to “Man in Black” from Alberta, Canada, who wrote on the Camino Forum, “I’ll put my oar into the Camino waters. For me, walking the Camino was life-affirming. With very few exceptions, the people I met along the way were open, generous and kind. I extend this to the pilgrims, shop keepers and hostel staff. I rarely heard harsh words and people overall were just good to each other. It was also a break away from the often depressing world news. On the trails we met positive people who helped and supported each other despite different language, culture, upbringing. It affirmed for me that there is good in the world and we don’t have to travel particularly far to find it.”
Here’s a story with a surprise ending, so be sure to read to the last word. Thank you, Xin Loi from USA for sharing. “Life Changing? First time–NO! Second time? You decide. Second Camino I walked from SJPDP to Finisterre. Shortly after leaving Santiago after 27 days walking in September 2016 , I saw a pilgrims shell lying on the left side of a dirt trail. Picking it up, I put it into my pants pocket. About an hour later, I passed a woman on the trail repacking her gear. Something made me stop and walk back to see if she needed any help. She did not need my help but started walking with me. I noticed she did not have a shell on her pack and ashed why.
She said that she had a friend who was a mystic and who told her to not buy a shell as she would meet a man who would be important in her life and he would give her a shell.
Pulled the shell out of my pocket and gave it to her. Walked to Finisterre together and then took the bus back to Santiago. She left for Portugal and I returned to Pennsylvania. On Easter Sunday 2017 we walked from Santiago to Finisterre together. We went to the eastern beach together where we followed the custom of kneeling in the water and letting 9 waves wash over us to erase our sins. We then walked up the hill to the End of the earth where I asked her to marry me.
She has her Visa interview December 6 and if all goes well, we expect to be together in the US for Christmas….and forever!
I also might add that upon return to Santiago after going to the End of the Earth at Easter 2017, we celebrated our engagement by staying in the Paradore in Santiago. While there we went out on to the Plaza in front of the Cathedral that evening , and slow danced in front of the church while a local band played in the darkness. Very romantic!”
Yes, what a romantic story! We all wish you a Buen Camino together.
Sailor from USA, contributed this last story for this post, answered on the Camino Forum: “Thanks for asking the good questions. Overall, I don’t see the camino as life-changing. However, as a person with non-religious beliefs I had what I consider “an spiritual awakening” in the Convento de las Hijas de la Caridad, in Rabé de las Calzadas. Have a Feliz Navidad, y que la luz de Dios alumbre su camino.”
Thank you, Kerri, Man in Black, Xin Loi and Sailor for taking the time to consider the important question, “Was Your Camino Life-Changing.” We look forward to comments from readers and pilgrims who might respond to these stories or share your own. Stay tuned for the next “Walking Through the Ages” post and hear more pilgrim voices and stories. Until then,
Buen Camino and