Sunday, October 12, 2014

"The Way of St. James"

For a thousand years pilgrims (peregrinos) have been walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  Santiago de Compostela is where the apostle James remains are buried.  The Pilgrimage starts in France in the Pyrenees and continues 500 miles through Northern Spain.

My husband and I decided to walk 150 miles of the Camino.  The 150 miles took twelve days with one day of rest, an average of 13 miles per day.  It was on the third day of the trip after walking nine miles uphill, that I realized I could do the whole 150 miles.  At the end of some days it was pure determination that kept me putting one foot in front of another.

The beauty of the scenery was breathtaking.  I kept thinking of the saying “It is the journey not the destination”.  I tried to stay in the moment and enjoy each mile.   There were countless villages, churches, monasteries, ancient hospitals and hostels (albergues) along the way. Many of these sprang up in the middle ages for the sole purpose of taking care of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that traveled every year.

Upon reaching Santiago de Compostela, Wayne and I stood in line receive our certificate of completing for walking at least 100 km of the Camino.  It was a very proud moment for us.
The next day we entered the cathedral and felt the enormity of the walk.  I was overwhelmed with emotion.  We were part of the pilgrim community.  We were strangers walking with the same goal. We had wished each other Buen Camino as we walked toward Santiago de Compostela.  We were finally there to visit the remains of St. James.  The cathedral was beautiful and full of other pilgrims feeling this same emotion.  

The Camino de Santiago is an experience that is different for everyone.  The best way to walk the Camino is up to the individual.  There are many choices of where to start the journey, where to stay, whether to walk alone, with a friend, or with a group.  If I was tired, had sore feet, or the sun beating down on my back, I enjoyed each step of "The Way".

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