Friday, June 22, 2018

15 years after my Camino: my walking stick



flowers I pressed and taped to my journal

doodling in my journal, Camino shell and cross



I did not bring a walking stick with me for our pilgrimage. I knew it’d be an important item to have, but I sensed that I would find one to buy somewhere on the Camino.

I was half right. I found a stick, on the side of the trail as we descended el Monte del Perdón, the Mountain of Forgiveness, right outside Pamplona. It was the first day of our pilgrimage on el Camino de Santiago.

I spent the rest of the pilgrimage learning how to use it.  

There was something cleansing, cathartic even, about getting to work on it with a knife at the end of the day.  Every night, little by little, I took a little bit more excess off the stick, shaving its bark and smoothing its surface.

At one point on the walk, a stranger looked at my crooked stick and laughed, then he tried to sell me his own staff, telling me in Spanish that mine was too brusco, meaning, too rough. 

I met a man named Jesus at one of the albergues. His last name was Ruiz, and we joked about the two of us being distant relatives.  When he saw me working on it, he pulled out his knife and used his stronger blade to smoothen my stick, gently evening out the rough "knots" in the wood so that it wouldn't hurt my hand as I held on to it throughout the day.

One night, I took a red pen and drew the Camino de Santiago cross on it.  This was my Camino walking stick (and yes, I brought it home as checked luggage!):