Thursday, June 11, 2015

walking the Camino, why two is better than one

Twelve years ago, on the great feast of Corpus Christi, my dear Pat and I walked into Santiago de Compostela—finally completing our pilgrimage across northern Spain.

I remember standing in the plaza in front of the cathedral, in awe at ourselves, feeling more than a little disbelief that we had made it. 

For weeks that felt like years, Pat and I walked the Camino de Santiago… stepping beyond the pain, exhaustion, heat, blisters, and swollen knees—and we did it together.

Not to take away from the many friends – and even my husband – who have walked part or all of the Camino by themselves, but much as it is true in life, there’s a level of surrender to the Camino that can only be experienced when you commit yourself to another person. 

Perhaps that's why Jesus sent out his disciples two by two...

When you are walking with someone day in and day out for weeks it doesn’t matter how close you are or how much you like each other because, in the end, it will be both a beautiful encounter, and a downright grueling challenge!

When they hurt, you hurt. When they need a break, you break. When you are discouraged and pissy, they feel discouraged and pissy. If walking with blisters makes you cry, they cry with you. When the heat overwhelms them, you both stop walking.

Looking back at that month of June and what we accomplished together twelve years ago, it was no coincidence that Pat and I would arrive in Santiago and kneel at the altar together on the feast of Corpus Christi.

Like the oneness we experienced as we held up and encouraged each other day by day, every time Pat and I received the Eucharist together—something we were blessed to do almost every day of our Camino pilgrimage—we also became one in and with Him who is our strength and our Lord.

In a very real way, it was our food for the journey—and what held us together.  

Like the Camino itself, the Sunday that Pat and I walked into the Santiago de Compostela cathedral together was one of the most Eucharistic experiences of my life, one that has become even more significant now that Pat is waiting for me at the heavenly banquet.

Pat's tombstone, with the final Camino shell pointing down