Why am I walking El Camino de Santiago, The Way? My simple joking answer is, “my sister told me to,” which in some ways is true enough. Di has been much more driven to do this trip and did not have any doubt about going. Reading the cousins blog along the Way in 2014, Di was enamored with the journey and saw the adventure and was captured by the sheer courage of doing this trip. I, on the other hand, had my eyes popping with reading about their long tiring days, falls that were near risks, the cold and the rain, and I was exhausted. Sitting in my house in the chill of October, I thought, I am glad it is not me.
But here I am on Sept 6, 2017 and I am leaving for El Camino in a little less than a week. Despite the concerns for being too hot when I walk and too cold when I sleep and too much to carry, and too far to walk, I am going, It truly does beg the question, Why?
Walking El Camino has become something other than a pilgrimage for many who begin. Some do it for the exercise, biking or walking it for the adventure, curiosity, and because it is there. Others enter from a religious Catholicism and walk it with prayer, reflection, and the heart of a pilgrim. Some walk from a spiritual perspective or with the deep history along The Way that has held many faiths, pagan, Christian, Muslim, to name a few. Some walk for a personal problem, a cleansing and renewal, to be forever changed.
While I believe that I bring some awareness as to why I am walking at this time, there will be more to unfold during and after that will cause me to reflect, that is why I went! But for now, I am aware of my family history. I have said many times that Catholicism is as deep as my DNA. It is steeped in family history with the angels, saints, the rosary, the Pope, priest and nuns, the Latin Mass, mystery and ritual. My family heritage is heavily French Canadian beginning in Canada in the 1600’s with the marriage of the daughter of a Huron chief and a French fur trapper. The Jesuits had Christianized the Huron village before it was destroyed and the survivors fled. Going back further we have Celts, Normandy, and even Ashkenazi Jew. We will be walking the path entitled The French Way that runs 790 km or 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France through the Pyrenees Mountains to Santiago de Compostela. We are starting in Leon for about 200 mile walk of the French Way. So, I walk partly because of family history and connection, religious heritage, and life transitions. I am currently not practicing Catholic weekly rituals but I don’t believe one ever leaves something that is so deeply embedded in their being and family as being raised Catholic. I walk with my sister and cousin to represent that family history. I walk as I am transitioning in employment. I walk as I feel I have reached a threshold age. I walk to meet other pilgrims on the Way from around the world. I bring with me a spiritual nature that guides my days and nights.
I am a woman who meditates daily, who’s life has been deeply affected and healed by a Hindu holy woman and saint, who sought a Master’s Degree in Theology and Spirituality at a Catholic University which healed and helped me to understand my religious past, who feels guided by angels, saints, spirit guides, Holy Spirit as well as teachings from Masters from various traditions. Who feels connected to and taught daily by the Buddhist text, the Dhammapada. I bring all of this with me on The Way as I do in daily life and pray for all of us on our journeys wherever they happen on this rotating earth. There is no longer a question of “why.” The response is, “I am.”