Tuesday, June 4, 2013

my Camino, 10 years later: remembering Estella

Ten years ago today, my friend Pat and I arrived by foot to the 1,000 year old town of Estella--after walking 14.5 miles on the Camino de Santiago that day.

a butterfly wing that I found and taped to my journal, 
and a rough sketch of a church steeple that I played with during a break in our walk

A 10-year-anniversary is a significant landmark—and I find myself remembering, reflecting, and feeling thankful for further things about the Camino, even now.

Since Pat and I began our walk in Pamplona, this was early on in our pilgrimage. Yet that day I noted in my journal two things: I already had “big blisters,” and it was our “first internet access!”

Some people, like my husband Michael, can walk the entire 500 miles of the Camino and never get a significant blister. But as we made our way across northern Spain, I struggled with sores covering my toes for basically the entire month of June.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
“The albergue has 38 beds and a beautiful mural of St. Michael painted on the wall of the back patio. Our hospitalero is a guy with strict rules, big tattoos, and bad skin. 
With every painful step today, I offered my walk, my pain and my tears for the people I know who hurt even to stand everyday—Shirley, Lonnie, JoAnn’s friend who lost a leg in the [Oklahoma City] bombing, all who hurt every day. God bless them. When we arrived here we saw a man with a fake leg on a bike! God be with him.”
a traffic sign that I didn't recognize, 
and copied to my journal after I learned that it means: "unclear or undefined danger"! 

I’m convinced that no matter how much one prepares and trains in order to “successfully” walk this historic pilgrimage, the Camino will still be what it needs to be for every peregrino. It’s a personal experience.

As is true of life, we can’t predict what the pilgrimage will entail. And for me, that meant blisters and learning to walk daily with chronic pain, as well as having the opportunity to offer this struggle as prayer for others in need.

Never would I have dreamt that this experience would come back to help me and guide me years later as I began to face my own chronic physical struggles.

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