Tuesday, May 29, 2018

15 years after my Camino: walking together

Every June becomes for me a special time to remember and ponder my pilgrimage journey across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

This year is no different, except for the number... I find it hard to believe, but it’s our 15 year anniversary! 

But let me start at the end, in Santiago, and make my way back to the beginning. 

When Pat and I arrived in Santiago de Compostela, 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 blisters, the pain, the exhaustion, the heat, the blisters, the swollen knees, and did I mention blisters—and we did it together.

I don’t want to take away from the many friends – and even my husband – who have walked part or all of the Camino by themselves. But I do believe that, just 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 walking it with 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. Ultimately, sharing the Camino with another is always both a beautiful encounter, and a downright grueling challenge!

When she hurt, I hurt. When she needed a break, I took a break. When I felt discouraged and pissy, she felt discouraged and pissyWhen walking with blisters made me cryshe cried with me. When the heat overwhelmed her, we both stopped walking.

Looking back at that month of June and what we accomplished together FIFTEEN years ago, it was no coincidence that Pat and I would arrive in Santiago and kneel at the altar together on the beautiful 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 was, is, and always will be our strength and our Lord.

In a very real way, the Eucharist 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 completed her earthly pilgrimage and is waiting for me at the Heavenly Banquet.

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