I have asked myself this question maybe a hundred times in the almost two months since I decided to finally honour a calling to walk The Camino or The Way of St James.
Firstly, let it make it very clear, this is a very special 500 miles. The Camino is an ancient path that has been followed my many for lots of reason over thousands of years. Very early on it was a trading route, linking northern Africa to central and western Europe. Although there is no documented evidence, it is also said to have been of significance as is follows a powerful ley line that is in direct alignment with the Milky Way. It became a religious pilgrimage following the burial on St James in Santiago De Compostela, and was the route followed by pilgrims during the time of the Crusades.
Its current form is very much as a Christian pilgrimage, if one walks the route, and has sufficient stamps in one’s Pilgrims’s Passport, one receives an absolution of all ones sins. I am not religious at all – for me the call is a spiritual one. For no reason that makes any sense to me, I knew when I read Shirley MacLaine’s book, The Camino, more than 10 years ago, that I would walk this path “one day”. I have read numerous books on the topic, and was given a detailed guidebook as a gift about seven years ago. My desire never waned, and now I am answering that call and start The Camino from St Jean Pied de Port on September 5th 2013.
To me, it is this calling that renders one a pilgrim, and the journey a pilgrimage. To me a pilgrimage is a sacred journey and a spiritual quest. It is at some level, something to be conquered, although I suspect it is really my mind that will be conquered. A pilgrimage or sacred journey is one that requires faith, trust… and a little bit of stardust.
I know I will face many challenges along the way, some physical, some spiritual… however the significant majority will be mental. I also know that the woman who starts this journey will not be the woman who finishes it. It will be a life changing experience, and part of the apprehension that is mixed in with the excited anticipation is wondering who this woman will be, and what life will hold for her on her return.
I invite you to share in my experiences, insights and learnings along the way – the journey has already begun – it did the moment I made the commitment to walk The Camino in September.
I am giving thanks for a “Buen Camino” – which literally means “right path” – that this journey will be the right path for me, and I will truly benefit from every experience I have along the way.