Was Your Camino Life-Changing? Stories Continued
Hello, Readers. It’s the Season of Light, Change, Celebration and Sharing. The thread that runs through these stories is Gratitude. My hope is that we all continue to practice kindness, gratitude and compassion in our everyday lives, not just on the Camino or in December, but 365 days a year. That will be the power of the Camino.
I’m sharing excerpts of more stories from responses to the question, “Was Your Camino Life-Changing?” from the November 29, 2017 blog entry. For our first responses, be sure to read the December 13 blog. Let’s take a walk!
I met Darlene, on my first Camino, when we were both waiting to eat the complimentary Pilgrim dinner at the Parador in Santiago. I was feeling lonely, having completed my Camino, holding my Compostela in my hand, and wondering what I would do next, since I had extra time. Meeting Darlene, who has walked several Caminos and worked as a hospitalera, added one more life-changing experience to my Camino and I began to realize how “the Camino Provides” was true throughout my journey. The next several days we shared an adventure, with a surprising retreat in Carantoña, a walk to Muxia and more time in Finisterre. But that’s another story.
Darlene from Toronto, writes, “The Camino has refocused my life. Leading walking groups and helping people prepare for the Camino has enriched my life here at home immeasurably. It has helped me in decision making also – what will make me happy and help me help others are the factors that help me decide how to use my time. Now if only I could live out of my backpack and eliminate the chores of life here at home.” Check out Darlene’s blog, Camino Wanderings, Documenting the Wanderings of a Camino Fanatic, including back entries for Camino stories and help preparing for your next walk. Buen Camino, Darlene.
John from USA has a different take on the “Life-changing” question that I may include in my story someday. “I think that life-resetting is better than life changing. My life didn’t change as a result of walking the Camino . . . You learn that people are defined by what they say and believe . . . You learn that what your feet feel like, where your next meal will be, and where you will spend the night become much more important than world events or other cares that used to take first place. You also learn about the sounds that a million leaves make in the wind and how great a walk in the pouring rain can be . . .” Read John’s complete entry on the Camino de Santiago Forum. Thank you for your wisdom, John.
Zrexer from Alberta, Canada, wonders about the question, and adds to our stories of the unique Camino each pilgrim experiences. “Life changing is maybe a little over the top for me. It certainly opened my eyes to looking at the world in a different way. If anything, after four Camino walks, I realized I did not need a lot to be happy. I really did not miss much from home while on my walks. So, if anything, I think I learned to be a lot less materialistic . . . continued on the Camino Forum.” Zrexer, your story resonates with the essential Camino experience of simplicity and realizing what makes us happy. Ultreia.
Quinranda reflects: “Do I think the Camino was life-changing? It sounds too grandiose at first glance, but upon reflection, I think my decision to embark on the journey marked a changing point within me. It allowed me to touch base with myself again, in a really pure and wonderful way. It taught me how strong I am; my perseverance through physical pain truly surprised me. It put me in touch with so many wonderful people and reminded me that the world is ultimately good even when it doesn’t always feel that way.” . . . click to read more. Thank you, Quinranda, for reinforcing the power of reflection.
Speaking of simplicity, here is a reply from Alexwalker, who describes himself as a Forever pilgrim from Norway: “Was your Camino Life-changing? At least life-direction-changing.”
Thank you, Alexwalker. I, too, found the Camino to be life-direction-changing. For me those yellow arrows and scallop shells helped me get to that new place. So much of the Camino is a metaphor for our life-after-walking. Buen Camino, Alexwalker.
Here is an excerpt from USA pilgrim, Pete: “Yes, for my wife and me it was life changing. It became a part of our identity. It redefined our relationship and how we approach relationships with others. Rather than continue I will share my 2013 reflection written the day we left Spain to return home: May 31st. Tir Na Nog (Gaelic for “The Land of Youth”) Second to the Right, and Straight on till Morning. That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to Neverland.” (From “Peter Pan”, by J. M. Barrie). Scarcely could there be better directions to The Camino. I have learned that it is not so much a place, although it is a place, as it is a Way. It is not learned in a book or in a video, it is an experience that unfolds within. . . . (click to read the complete story) and the gratitude expressed.” Thank you, Pete! Buen Camino.
Capt Noglos, South West England: “I feel life resetting” is a good description for myself as well. I find that I have approached things differently…… greater levels of understanding, generally when talking with others, being more open and also practising listening more deeply, and sensing feelings in a more meaningful way. . . We both have a strong christian faith, but it is not Catholic. . . We found that we affirmed that denomination really does not matter (exactly what we prayed and hoped for) , it is faith that matters, not how you come to it. I was over whelmed by the friendliness and commitment of all those we met, christian and non-christian alike. . .” continued on the Camino de Santiago Forum. Capt Noglos, thank you for discussing the question of religion on the Camino, which is a topic on its own that I will continue to address on my blog. Buen Camino, Irene
Stivandrer from Denmark: “My Camino activity has been life defining… my life ends with what I always liked to do; as a student I did month long walks with my rucksack in Scotland, Ireland, Wales & England. Then started to work endlessly, got children, got cancer, got got rid of it.. and now gotten alive again by taking up the walking.
I was always interested in people, it become my job, working with refugees, with children, with special needs clients in teaching and everyday care. . . I even got my first tattoo as a pilgrim. After coming home I placed a small scallop in stencil on my left shin and on my left shoulder, not to broadcast, but to say to everyone who already knows the meaning of the scallop; Hello Pilgrim, See Ya down the Road apiece!” Continue for the full entry on the Camino de Santiago Forum. Buen Camino, Stivandrer, See ya down the Road apiece.
With a bit of humor S Yates, writes this entry: “Walked my first Camino in 1999 now living in Santiago maintaining a wee pilgrim rescue place at http://egeria.house/contact/ What was your question again 😉 Buen Camino de la Vida, SY.” My note: please click on the Egeria House link and you will find lots of information from this pilgrim, writer, author and more. From her website: “S.Yates walked the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela for the first time in winter 1999/2000 and has been addicted, since that very first day walking out of Roncesvalles, to all things Camino but especially to the hospitality on the Way of St. James.” If you need support getting started on the Camino or for your next journey, check out her book on Packing Tips and more on her author page. Buen Camino, S. Yates!
Thank you, dear pilgrims, for so generously sharing your stories, many coming from my question on the Camino de Santiago Forum. Reading these accounts of the Camino and how it changed or affected each pilgrim’s life, I realize how much we all have in common: no matter where we are from or what language we speak, we have more that unites us than separates us. I can picture us all sitting around a fire, warm drinks in hand, taking turns and nodding our heads each time we hear an experience that sounds like it could be our Camino or our life. Or being surprised by another pilgrim’s very different journey. Pilgrims share a common language of landscape, weather patterns, architecture, solitude or crowds, sore muscles, maybe blisters, menú del dia, albergues and much more. Still, each Camino is unique, from physical/emotional to personal spiritual experiences, we walk our own way.
Adios, readers! I’m grateful that you stopped by to read our Pilgrim Stories and hope you will join us again for future thought-provoking narratives about the walking life at home and beyond. Please feel free to add a comment at the end of this blog entry. We love to hear your voices, too.
Ultreia suseia, Irene Lipshin