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I am not a "Camino pilgrim"

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
There is my confession, and now let me try to explain it. I respect and cheer on others' spiritual perspectives and experiences, walking the Camino de Santiago. All of your experiences and beliefs are as valid, real and true as mine are. So I hope you will allow me to share my personal view.

I am not a Christian. I do not believe that the bones of Jesus' apostle James are buried in Santiago de Compostela. This religious faith aspect of the historic Camino is meaningful to many people, but it's not why I walk. I am not a "pilgrim" in that sense.

I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons." Let me clarify this in an important way: the camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is. The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.

I love the natural and cultural beauty of the camino across northern Spain. Standing in a village, knowing about the colorful history that occurred on this spot centuries before, is thrilling. I cherish the conversations and time I share with other international walkers and especially with local Spanish people (whose ancestors often go back centuries in those villages). I am intrigued to be walking in the footsteps of pilgrims for over a thousand years. Traveling on foot, experiencing the gradual changes in the ecological zones; different climates, new flowers and unique birds, is amazing.

Lately, in preparation for returning to walk the camino (only five days from now), I've been taking long training hikes along the ancient acequias (water ditches) in my city. Some parts of my walk divert onto paved streets and, while standing at an intersection wearing my backpack, I watch the faces of people driving by. There is a common blank stare; drivers are reviewing where they just came from in the past ("When she did/said that, I should have said...") and thinking about where they are going next in the future ("I wonder if there will be dinner waiting for me at home. I need to be sure to put the trash bin out for the garbage man tomorrow" or even "five days from now I leave for Spain"). Past and future chatter. What a waste of our short lives on earth, while the PRESENT fleets by.

While I am walking the camino or - actually - whenever I am traveling in unfamiliar parts of the world or even hiking in the wilderness near my home, I find that I am much more open to all the magic and lessons that life teaches us. When I am going about my "routine" life, I often operate on auto-pilot and am dulled to these opportunities. It is something that I constantly try to fight. It's a shame, because our lives on earth are short and I feel like I waste a lot of time not being awake Right. Now.

The reason I feel compelled to walk the camino, and to travel, to climb mountains, and even to ride my motorcycle fast is that it is much easier to be PRESENT during these adventures.

Packing what I will carry with me (and not packing my fears) is a valuable Buddhist exercise. My biggest challenge is to stay present until I leave and especially to continue to do so after I come home from walking the camino.
 
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2021 Camino Guides
Most all Camino authors have decided to use 2020 guides for 2021, with free PDF files with updates coming in the spring. Get yours today.
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons." Let me clarify this in an important way: the camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is. The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.

The wonderful thing about this Forum is the diversity of views and opinions :)

As a Christian (am I allowed to admit that here (Of course: Mod Edit)) and a 'Pilgrim' I strongly believe the Camino is a very special place. Could the things that I witnessed and that happened to me on the Camino happen elsewhere? In my mind No.

I actually don't walk long distances anywhere else in the World. It would be a pointless exercise to me, with no purpose. ;)

I'm very jealous though that you can achieve similar experiences elsewhere. It would save me a lot of travel costs!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Oh, not easily! I wish.

Well done for 'coming out' by the way. Great post.

It makes me wonder how many people walking the various Caminos are 'non Pilgrims'.
Not that it bothers me of course. More the merrier. Unless I miss out on a bed :oops:
But I suspect 'Pilgrims' whatever 'they' are........and let's not start that debate........are probably in the minority.
 
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
If people are free to express their religious and spiritual motivations for walking the Camino on this forum, others with different motivations should be free to express themselves too. My post was not intended to start a religious debate. I respect others' spiritual beliefs and I hope that they will respect my beliefs as well.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
If people are free to express their religious and spiritual motivations for walking the Camino on this forum, others with different motivations should be free to express themselves too. My post was not intended to start a religious debate. I respect others' spiritual beliefs and I hope that they will respect my beliefs as well.

@JillGat : I very much like your OP here and all of your responses. The reason I don't respond about the content is that my English fails me when I have to write down words where the details are so important.

To every other current and new poster here on this thread : would it not be wonderful and positive if we could all keep this thread not locked?

Call me naive but I think it is possible to have a good debate / interchange of ideas without
getting nasty.

So thank you again @JillGat
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I'm not Christian.
But I definitely feel like a pilgrim, when I walk the Camino.
It's hard to explain, sometimes even to myself, so I don't really try. It''s mysterious.

I practice to be present here and now, and that happens lots of places - but the Camino has something extra that the heart recognizes even if the head can't quite wrap words around it.

The conditions that come together on the Camino are made to support for inner work.
It's everything: its history, the centuries of devotion that have happened as generations of pilgrims made their way to Santiago, the kindness and hospitality of people along the way, and the focused energy of so many faithful, now, before, and to come.

In itself, the camino is just another place. But we have collectively given it meaning that transcends that, and that to me is palpable, and different. It takes me out of myself like no-place else. And it's taught me spiritual lessons I couldn't have learned elsewhere.
So I keep coming back to see what else it has to teach, and to reveal.

But each of us walks for our own reasons. And there are as many intentions as there are peregrino/as.
What gives your Camino meaning is your truth, and you have fearlessly spoken it. No-one can challenge that and it doesn't have to look like mine.

So long as we can all (collectively) walk with respect and kindness for each other, all shall be well. Who knows? We might learn a thing or two in the process. Like how to get along in spite of differences.
It's a small lesson the world could use right now.

[Thank you, Jill, for a lovely and thought provoking thread!]
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I'm not Christian.
But I definitely feel like a pilgrim, when I walk the Camino.
It's hard to explain, sometimes even to myself, so I don't really try. It''s mysterious.

I practice to be present here and now, and that happens lots of places - but the Camino has something extra that the heart recognizes even if the head can't quite wrap words around it.

The conditions that come together on the Camino are made to support for inner work.
It's everything: its history, the centuries of devotion that have happened as generations of pilgrims made their way to Santiago, the kindness and hospitality of people along the way, and the focused energy of so many faithful, now, before, and to come.

In itself, the camino is just another place. But we have collectively given it meaning that transcends that, and that to me is palpable, and different. It takes me out of myself like no-place else. And it's taught me spiritual lessons I couldn't have learned elsewhere.
So I keep coming back to see what else it has to teach, and to reveal.

But each of us walks for our own reasons. And there are as many intentions as there are peregrino/as.
What gives your Camino meaning is your truth, and you have fearlessly spoken it. No-one can challenge that and it doesn't have to look like mine.

So long as we can all (collectively) walk with respect and kindness for each other, all shall be well. Who knows? We might learn a thing or two in the process. Like how to get along in spite of differences.
It's a small lesson the world could use right now.

[Thank you, Jill, for a lovely and thought provoking thread!]

As always @VNwalking, articulated so much better than I could ever hope to do. Double like.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
@JillGat :
To every other current and new poster here on this thread : would it not be wonderful and positive if we could all keep this thread not locked?
@JillGat

So perhaps the collective goal on this thread should be..........let's play nice and keep the thread open :)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
As always @VNwalking, articulated so much better than I could ever hope to do. Double like.
Goodness, @Robo, spoken like the true gentleman you are. Thank you (I'm blushing).:oops:
But I thought you did just fine!
(And yes, please...let's all watch our words.....)
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I am a Christian, but I am aware that is just a handy label for someone who is dedicated to what's really true. There are lots of people equally dedicated to what's really true. There are lots of ways to do that, lots of other labels and techniques and "paths," and I respect them.
Likewise, "pilgrim" and "camino" are also just handy labels for things that are just exactly what they are, with or without a name attached. People dedicated to what's really true often find one another in places like the Camino, places dedicated long ago to the search for what's true.
Truth unites us. Labels divide us.
And the truth lives inside each one of us. It's what drew most of us to walk this Way. We all are just traveling the road home. If we set aside our labels and egos and presumptions about others, we can walk there together in peace.

(Just don't let me see you leaving trash along the Way!)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
As always @Rebekah Scott , articulated so much better than I could ever hope to do. Double like.
What @Robo said, only I took my name out and stuck Reb's in. :D
Actually, triple like. Especially this part:

Truth unites us. Labels divide us.
And the truth lives inside each one of us. It's what drew most of us to walk this Way. We all are just traveling the road home. If we set aside our labels and egos and presumptions about others, we can walk there together in peace.
 
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Purky

The Dutch guy
Year of past OR future Camino
Reality is frequently inaccurate
The power of the camino for me, or the magic of it if you will, is the fact that I recognised and felt that a lot of people were going (and have been going) to the same place as I was with the same intention. That for me created a sort of focussed awareness, a sense of purpose and above all, a sense of peace and belonging that goes beyond my (supposed) identity or ego.

The trouble starts when I try to figure out what exactly the intention of all that walking is. Why do I walk, what am I (pilgrim/not pilgrim) and what do I hope to become, or find out? And frankly, I have given up on those questions. I don't care anymore. Mainly because I think I am not clever enough to find a definitive answer, but more importantly because I suspect this 'definitive' answer doesn't exist.

I have the feeling that, much like life itself, every answer to all those questions is a fluid affair that will change if you look directly at it. I feel a lot better if I maintain a peripheral view. Out of curiosity I peek at it sneakily now and then, out of the corner of my eye, but then I leave it be. Very unpilgrim-like, I take a step back, not forward.

Because that focussed awareness, sense of purpose and sense of peace and belonging I mentioned earlier is what it's all about for me. It might even be roughly the same as 'the present' Jill describes, and the 'truth' Rebekah speaks of. I would like that a lot, but it wouldn't bother me that much if it wasn't. To each his or her own, as long as you don't litter.
 
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Annette london

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
There is my confession, and now let me try to explain it. I respect and cheer on others' spiritual perspectives and experiences, walking the Camino de Santiago. All of your experiences and beliefs are as valid, real and true as mine are. So I hope you will allow me to share my personal view.

I am not a Christian. I do not believe that the bones of Jesus' apostle James are buried in Santiago de Compostela. This religious faith aspect of the historic Camino is meaningful to many people, but it's not why I walk. I am not a "pilgrim" in that sense.

I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons." Let me clarify this in an important way: the camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is. The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.

I love the natural and cultural beauty of the camino across northern Spain. Standing in a village, knowing about the colorful history that occurred on this spot centuries before, is thrilling. I cherish the conversations and time I share with other international walkers and especially with local Spanish people (whose ancestors often go back centuries in those villages). I am intrigued to be walking in the footsteps of pilgrims for over a thousand years. Traveling on foot, experiencing the gradual changes in the ecological zones; different climates, new flowers and unique birds, is amazing.

Lately, in preparation for returning to walk the camino (only five days from now), I've been taking long training hikes along the ancient acequias (water ditches) in my city. Some parts of my walk divert onto paved streets and, while standing at an intersection wearing my backpack, I watch the faces of people driving by. There is a common blank stare; drivers are reviewing where they just came from in the past ("When she did/said that, I should have said...") and thinking about where they are going next in the future ("I wonder if there will be dinner waiting for me at home. I need to be sure to put the trash bin out for the garbage man tomorrow" or even "five days from now I leave for Spain"). Past and future chatter. What a waste of our short lives on earth, while the PRESENT fleets by.

While I am walking the camino or - actually - whenever I am traveling in unfamiliar parts of the world or even hiking in the wilderness near my home, I find that I am much more open to all the magic and lessons that life teaches us. When I am going about my "routine" life, I often operate on auto-pilot and am dulled to these opportunities. It is something that I constantly try to fight. It's a shame, because our lives on earth are short and I feel like I waste a lot of time not being awake Right. Now.

The reason I feel compelled to walk the camino, and to travel, to climb mountains, and even to ride my motorcycle fast is that it is much easier to be PRESENT during these adventures.

Packing what I will carry with me (and not packing my fears) is a valuable Buddhist exercise. My biggest challenge is to stay present until I leave and especially to continue to do so after I come home from walking the camino.
Lovely post.
I wonder though, how many of us walking the Camino start out as "walkers" and end it as "pilgrims"?
Something strange happens along the way!
Certainly did for me on our first CF in '05
Best wishes Annette
 

beiramar

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
I wonder though, how many of us walking the Camino start out as "walkers" and end it as "pilgrims"?

For some of might even be the other way around.

I started my first Camino in 2011 in hope of finding something spiritual and deep.
I ended up discovering that HIKING is what I really love and what fulfills me.
Being in nature, feeling the power of the weather in the mountains and fitting everything that I need in my backpack.

Almost every year I still walk a part of a Camino in Spain or Portugal but with no specific expectations beyond good food and a lot of easy walking.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
The trouble starts when I try to figure out what exactly the intention of all that walking is. Why do I walk, what am I (pilgrim/not pilgrim) and what do I hope to become, or find out? .

I started out on my first Camino, just knowing that I needed to walk it. Without really knowing why.

I had some vague idea of getting a break from it all and finding myself.

So I started out looking for an 'answer'. Perhaps it was who am I, what is my purpose. Something like that.
All those longs hours alone. Deep in delicious contemplation. Just the act of walking, in the footsteps of so many millions of others. And the Spiritual element of it all (for those who want it) just helped me 'open up' and be receptive to whatever happened. And amazing things did happen.

Because I started out injured, I was just happy to make it through each day. Not really expecting to make it all the way. And so each day before setting out, I would repeat my little prayer. To whoever or whatever might hear it...

Thank you for allowing me to walk another day on this Camino. I promise to walk with an open heart and an open mind and be ready for any lessons you set before me.

And many lessons were there to be learnt!
I was just so grateful to be able to walk each day in that 'meditation in motion' state...

And each day I hoped to get closer and closer to the answer I was seeking.

Then I think it was on Day 7.... I realised....... I'd better work out the question first ! :eek:

I think that came about day 14..... ;)

And the answer about day 18. :)
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Year of past OR future Camino
Reality is frequently inaccurate
And so each day before setting out, I would repeat my little prayer. To whoever or whatever might hear it...

Thank you for allowing me to walk another day on this Camino. I promise to walk with an open heart and an open mind and be ready for any lessons you set before me.

Your prayer and my intent are fundamentally the same. For me it is about embracing and celebrating life. My prayer, or mantra or statement would read as: I am happy with today. I will try to walk with an open heart and an open mind and be ready.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Your prayer and my intent are fundamentally the same. For me it is about embracing and celebrating life. My prayer, or mantra or statement would read as: I am happy with today. I will try to walk with an open heart and an open mind and be ready.

I like the word intention.

Reaffirming your intention each day seems like a good thing to do....
 

jerby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances-Finisterre 2013
Portuguese 2017
Portuguese 2018
Ingles 2018
Via de la Plata Oct. 2019
There is my confession, and now let me try to explain it. I respect and cheer on others' spiritual perspectives and experiences, walking the Camino de Santiago. All of your experiences and beliefs are as valid, real and true as mine are. So I hope you will allow me to share my personal view.

I am not a Christian. I do not believe that the bones of Jesus' apostle James are buried in Santiago de Compostela. This religious faith aspect of the historic Camino is meaningful to many people, but it's not why I walk. I am not a "pilgrim" in that sense.

I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons." Let me clarify this in an important way: the camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is. The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.

I love the natural and cultural beauty of the camino across northern Spain. Standing in a village, knowing about the colorful history that occurred on this spot centuries before, is thrilling. I cherish the conversations and time I share with other international walkers and especially with local Spanish people (whose ancestors often go back centuries in those villages). I am intrigued to be walking in the footsteps of pilgrims for over a thousand years. Traveling on foot, experiencing the gradual changes in the ecological zones; different climates, new flowers and unique birds, is amazing.

Lately, in preparation for returning to walk the camino (only five days from now), I've been taking long training hikes along the ancient acequias (water ditches) in my city. Some parts of my walk divert onto paved streets and, while standing at an intersection wearing my backpack, I watch the faces of people driving by. There is a common blank stare; drivers are reviewing where they just came from in the past ("When she did/said that, I should have said...") and thinking about where they are going next in the future ("I wonder if there will be dinner waiting for me at home. I need to be sure to put the trash bin out for the garbage man tomorrow" or even "five days from now I leave for Spain"). Past and future chatter. What a waste of our short lives on earth, while the PRESENT fleets by.

While I am walking the camino or - actually - whenever I am traveling in unfamiliar parts of the world or even hiking in the wilderness near my home, I find that I am much more open to all the magic and lessons that life teaches us. When I am going about my "routine" life, I often operate on auto-pilot and am dulled to these opportunities. It is something that I constantly try to fight. It's a shame, because our lives on earth are short and I feel like I waste a lot of time not being awake Right. Now.

The reason I feel compelled to walk the camino, and to travel, to climb mountains, and even to ride my motorcycle fast is that it is much easier to be PRESENT during these adventures.

Packing what I will carry with me (and not packing my fears) is a valuable Buddhist exercise. My biggest challenge is to stay present until I leave and especially to continue to do so after I come home from walking the camino.
Jillgat,
I love your outlook on life and it is so true. We all fall into the blank stare trap. I will try and remember this when I am walking Lisbon to Porto next month. Buen Camino.
 

Annette london

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
For some of might even be the other way around.

I started my first Camino in 2011 in hope of finding something spiritual and deep.
I ended up discovering that HIKING is what I really love and what fulfills me.
Being in nature, feeling the power of the weather in the mountains and fitting everything that I need in my backpack.

Almost every year I still walk a part of a Camino in Spain or Portugal but with no specific expectations beyond good food and a lot of easy walking.
Beiramar,
Agree wholeheartedly with you.
Walking or hiking anywhere in the mountains,forests,countryside with the minimum of possessions can be a wonderful experience and free the mind of a lot of dross.

For me,sitting in the garden in the depths of winter with a clear blue sky up above (blankets and hot water bottles necessary!!) can definitely smooth my mind!!
Best wishes Annette
 
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tjb1013

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
The power of the camino for me, or the magic of it if you will, is the fact that I recognised and felt that a lot of people were going (and have been going) to the same place as I was with the same intention.

There is something very much like the power of the laying on of hands when installing a bishop and the idea of apostolic succession that the Camino holds for me, even though my beliefs are much closer to the OP's. That powerful connection through 50 or so generations of Christian pilgrims (and maybe the pre-Christians on their way to Finisterre) is easy to embrace and perhaps difficult to understand. That is part of the 'mystery' that is so powerful for those with faith, and many without.
 

DavidJ1215

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May 2017, Camino Finisterre 2017, Via Francigena Canterbury to Rome 2018.
I am a christian and a camino pilgrim. I am new to my religious faith – it found me late in life and I took that faith with me on my first camino earlier this year. Also exactly 10 years before the start of my camino, I had a health issue and was told I needed to change certain aspects of my life and for each year of change the risk of a reoccurrence would diminish until year 10 when there was no longer a risk at all. So my pilgrimage was both a thank you and a celebration – I knew exactly why I was walking to Santiago. What I found and saw along the way is the same as you Jill but I saw it with different ’eyes’ and a different understanding of why so many pilgrims have walked this route for over 1000 years.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
Like someone in this forum wrote on another occasion so eloquently wrote, I am a "non practicing atheist". In itself the Camino has no spiritual meaning for me, for me it's the hiking and the meeting with other people from all quarters of life and of the world that keeps pulling me to the Camino. The for walking wonderfully suited infrastructure at an affordable price is also a big advantage.
There are some other places on the world that could satisfy these needs. In the eighties/nineties I did trek in 3 different years in the Nepal Himalaya. The experiences to me were quite similar to walking a Camino. I don't think I would walk in Nepal again though.Last years I had some problems with blisters and muscle injury. A big advantage in Spain is that (a road to)medical provisions are always nearby, in Nepal this is not the case.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
To repeat and paraphrase a discussion between the late Pope St. John Paul II and the Dalai Lama some 25 years ago...

In a witnessed conversation during their cordial meeting at the Vatican, the Dalai Lama inquired of Pope John Paul II, "is it true that you Catholics believe that only Catholics can get to Heaven?"

His Holiness is reported to have replied... "It is true that we teach that we must go through the Son to get to the Father in Heaven. Also true, is that our dogma does describe that as the truth. But, who am I to say? There are many paths up the mountain. We happen to believe and teach that ours is the most direct. However, that does not preclude the possibility of good people who believe differently, from also arriving at the top of the mountain..."

The paraphrase is mine. Clearly, I was not present, so this is all second-hand. However, I believe this conversation is recounted in one or more books written about this popular Pope. Even if I got it wrong, the current Pontiff, Pope Francis, has reportedly said much the same thing, across a variety of issues related to faith. So, the point is clear. Catholics allow that there are other paths up the mountain leading to the "peak."

The point here is that all belief systems are welcomed on the Camino. Also true, people with no belief system, per se, are also welcome. IMHO, the critical thing for all pilgrims is mutual respect and understanding of one another's belief's.

I hope this helps.
 
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IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Year of past OR future Camino
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
Your prayer and my intent are fundamentally the same. For me it is about embracing and celebrating life. My prayer, or mantra or statement would read as: I am happy with today. I will try to walk with an open heart and an open mind and be ready.
This speaks to me the most, because with each day, that is what I spoke out loud, especially on my first Camino in 2012... and each day was a miracle. Nothing much changed in 2015 and this year... my mantra was the same... the "lessons" more challenging... almost as if the Camino kept telling me, you are no longer an infant on this ancient path... expect to handle more. Some days, I wished to time-travel back to 2012.... In the end, my Camino comes home with me and I continue on.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
Well done for 'coming out' by the way. Great post.

It makes me wonder how many people walking the various Caminos are 'non Pilgrims'.
Not that it bothers me of course. More the merrier. Unless I miss out on a bed :oops:
But I suspect 'Pilgrims' whatever 'they' are........and let's not start that debate........are probably in the minority.
Based on my experiences, I'd say that walkers with a conventional religious motivation are very much in the minority.
 

jozero

Been there, going again...
Year of past OR future Camino
CF x 3
I actually don't walk long distances anywhere else in the World. It would be a pointless exercise to me, with no purpose. ;)
Hi Rob - Sorry if this is too personal a question (and if so, please disregard) but after reading all the posts of this thread with interest I came back to yours with a great sense of curiousity about why you would think long walks anywhere else in the world would be a pointless exercise? While I do cherish the Camino experience I cannot walk it more than every few years if I'm lucky enough to get time away. I use this 'other' time to walk on various other paths and find that I still find much value to my inner well-being. No judgement of course, just an interesting point-of-view that you presented.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Year of past OR future Camino
yes...
I love this post... I've been thinking about it all day.

For my part, I think I'm a Church of England Christian... and I think I'm a pilgirm. I question that because there are for me, a number of grey areas.

When I was very young and into my teen years our local vicar 'rescued' me from a brute of a father and a dying mother... Over those years I spent so much time with my church family (Choir on thursday, brownies on Tuesday, youth club on Friday and services twice on a sunday). I was loved and nurtured by the adults that lived amongst that community, and as a result I grew into a reasonably well rounded adult.

These days I do have questions about the institutions of all faiths... but regardless I do 100% believe that the camino called me. I was 51, far too overweight and in recovery from cancer. I took hardly any exercise and yet I knew that I had to walk and I always knew that I would reach Santiago.

The camino changed me. Since then I have become addicted to walking... but it is only on the camino that I feel the lightness in my step and a certain joy. A connection to the earth and the horizon? I cant explain it, I cant find the words that can clarify my thinking, but I do feel a connection. It's not just the Camino Frances either - I felt the same pull on the VdlP.

Is it St James calling me? He has become my place of safety and I do talk to him when I feel in need of comfort. Oddly enough, I dont actually think he is in Santiago, but I dont care either... its the spirit and force for good that I feel. I do wonder if perhaps since men have walked the earth, that they have been walking that path. And maybe all their hopes and dreams and aspirations have been left to fall into the soil and it has created a force for good?

Walking in a community of people, who are only bound by the path and a desire to reach a common goal is liberating. Walkers and Pilgrims become one and we share a common purpose... and that too is a force for good.

I've learned about the spirituality of the camino, the ancient people who walked before us, the kings and paupers who have tread those paths and I've learned of prayers and Thin Places and shared stories of joy and sadness with so many people. I love the camino diversity and I love that we are all equal when we're putting one foot in front of another.

Whatever the camino is, it is a place that still calls me and I am very grateful for that.
 
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nycwalking

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Jillgat,

I like what you said about being in the present while on camino. My dad, an army vet, says a soldier's best camp, is the one he left and the one he is going to.

Also, I am not Catholic, but Episcopalian. I find Mass on camino, I go as often as possible, so moving. And, yet I would never change denominations. Um!

Well, September is such a lovely time on camino. Enjoy.
 
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Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Year of past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
If people are free to express their religious and spiritual motivations for walking the Camino on this forum, others with different motivations should be free to express themselves too. My post was not intended to start a religious debate. I respect others' spiritual beliefs and I hope that they will respect my beliefs as well.
Hi Jill, they probably do.

My point of view is that I will respect everybody's beliefs what ever they are .
And at the other hand I hope that people respect my beliefs.

Wish you a wonderful journey and a Buen Camino , Peter .
 

pilgrim b

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminos Frances 2013-Ingles 2014-Frances 2015
St Cuthbert's Way 2017-Via Francigena 2018 & 2019
What a wonderful post, I really do not have the words to express what others have already expressed so eloquently. However I felt compelled to say, "how much my heart sings at the beauty of these contributions like the Skylark. They call for peace compasion and understanding to all; pilgrims or not, who venture to find out more about themselves.
Just b
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Year of past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
@JillGat : I very much like your OP here and all of your responses. The reason I don't respond about the content is that my English fails me when I have to write down words where the details are so important.

To every other current and new poster here on this thread : would it not be wonderful and positive if we could all keep this thread not locked?

Call me naive but I think it is possible to have a good debate / interchange of ideas without
getting nasty.

So thank you again @JillGat
Wel said Sabine , I to find it difficult to write the proper words some times.

I'm with you in the hope that this tread stays positive and wonderful.

Wish you well , Peter .
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Lovely, well-written post, VNwalking. Thought-provoking! Thanks.

I'm not Christian.
But I definitely feel like a pilgrim, when I walk the Camino.
It's hard to explain, sometimes even to myself, so I don't really try. It''s mysterious.

I practice to be present here and now, and that happens lots of places - but the Camino has something extra that the heart recognizes even if the head can't quite wrap words around it.

The conditions that come together on the Camino are made to support for inner work.
It's everything: its history, the centuries of devotion that have happened as generations of pilgrims made their way to Santiago, the kindness and hospitality of people along the way, and the focused energy of so many faithful, now, before, and to come.

In itself, the camino is just another place. But we have collectively given it meaning that transcends that, and that to me is palpable, and different. It takes me out of myself like no-place else. And it's taught me spiritual lessons I couldn't have learned elsewhere.
So I keep coming back to see what else it has to teach, and to reveal.

But each of us walks for our own reasons. And there are as many intentions as there are peregrino/as.
What gives your Camino meaning is your truth, and you have fearlessly spoken it. No-one can challenge that and it doesn't have to look like mine.

So long as we can all (collectively) walk with respect and kindness for each other, all shall be well. Who knows? We might learn a thing or two in the process. Like how to get along in spite of differences.
It's a small lesson the world could use right now.

[Thank you, Jill, for a lovely and thought provoking thread!]
 
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Great post, Rebekah! As one who grew up as a Quaker and have studied Buddhism (not calling myself "a Buddhist"), all of your points really resonated with me.
I am a Christian, but I am aware that is just a handy label for someone who is dedicated to what's really true. There are lots of people equally dedicated to what's really true. There are lots of ways to do that, lots of other labels and techniques and "paths," and I respect them.
Likewise, "pilgrim" and "camino" are also just handy labels for things that are just exactly what they are, with or without a name attached. People dedicated to what's really true often find one another in places like the Camino, places dedicated long ago to the search for what's true.
Truth unites us. Labels divide us.
And the truth lives inside each one of us. It's what drew most of us to walk this Way. We all are just traveling the road home. If we set aside our labels and egos and presumptions about others, we can walk there together in peace.

(Just don't let me see you leaving trash along the Way!)
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
For some of might even be the other way around. I started my first Camino in 2011 in hope of finding something spiritual and deep.
I ended up discovering that HIKING is what I really love and what fulfills me.
Being in nature, feeling the power of the weather in the mountains and fitting everything that I need in my backpack.

I love this, too. Hiking!
I will also confess that, while not understanding any of it (I speak Spanish, but I mean not understanding what's going on in the service), I have cried while attending Mass on the camino. It just exudes the bigness and the oneness of us all and the vulnerability and fragility of each of us.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
To repeat and paraphrase a discussion between the late Pope St. John Paul II and the Dalai Lama some 25 years ago...

In a witnessed conversation during their cordial meeting at the Vatican, the Dalai Lama inquired of Pope John Paul II, "is it true that you Catholics believe that only Catholics can get to Heaven?"

His Holiness is reported to have replied... "It is true that we teach that we must go through the Son to get to the Father in Heaven. Also true, is that our dogma does describe that as the truth. But, who am I to say? There are many paths up the mountain. We happen to believe and teach that ours is the most direct. However, that does not preclude the possibility of good people who believe differently from also arriving at the top of the mountain..."

The paraphrase is mine. Clearly, I was not present, so this is all second-hand. However, I believe this conversation is recounted in one or more books written about this popular Pope. Even if I got it wrong, the current Pontiff, Pope Francis, has reportedly said much the same thing, across a variety of issues related to faith. So, the point is clear. Catholics allow that there are other paths up the mountain leading to the "peak."

The point here is that all belief systems are welcomed on the Camino. Also true, people with no belief system, per se, are also welcome. IMHO, the critical thing for all pilgrims is mutual respect and understanding of one another's belief's.

I hope this helps.

What is a "belief system"? I believe it to be the lens through which we view the world. We view the world through the perception of our individual "bag of experience". I see my "bag of experience" as the sum total of all of the events, feelings and occurrences which have made my life. I figuratively stuff these events into my bag and then perceive the world through the prism of this collection. As I age and experience more things, I discard things from the bag and add new things. In this, each of has a different "bag of experience". None of these bags are less valid or important to the individual than any other. People we are in close proximity to, in meaningful times, affect the contents of our "bag". Walking the Camino is definitely a meaningful time.

I am not a pure Christian, although this was my upbringing. I see the world through the experience of being exposed to a variety of religious beliefs and other person's experiences. I am, however, a very spiritual person and take great delight in wilderness, historical ethos and long distance walking. What makes the Camino different and meaningful for me, is that I walk it with Christians. The conversations and exposure to their belief in why they walk and what they are walking towards, is always a source of peace to me. I may even rearrange my "bag of experience" ;)
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
This has been my very favorite thread of the week. Honesty and "in good faith" always resonates.

I know that Camino de Santiago pulled me out of a hard time a few years ago, and gave me a good reason to start moving again and "get out of my head". Emotion and worry are horrible bed partners, and the best way to "make a new plan, Stan" is to move those feet--a lot. Study after study has shown that long-distance walking (not to mention the spirituality of it all!) is profoundly helpful for mental and physical health.

While walking Camino in 2015, I loved moving through nature slowly. @JillGat mentioned the blank stares of people in cars. I've noticed that too. It always reminds me of that "quiet desperation" that most feel--I would also note that seeing those robotic drivers now texting while driving makes me rather nervous, so please don't be one of those, okay?

While walking, you're forced to slow down and notice--a horse in a field, the grapes in their various stages (in the fall, of decomposing although a few remain), someone walking nearby, the sound of wind. It's a practice in observing, in breathing, in noticing.

@Robo , I live in a beautiful place with old-growth trees, trails, nature that is out of this world. I too get on an expensive and uncomfortable bit of metal and fly too near the sun to get to Spain as often as I can. I will admit that I have an irrational fear of flying, perhaps because during some of my more desperate hours while living in Cambodia, I was the first flight out after a plane crash--1997, after a surgery, after Princess Di passed, after Mother Theresa had died, after I had been through a two-day war there. To a degree, every time I get on a plane, I have a bit of PTSD and like I did back then, I coach myself through it and get myself to Spain. I am always delighted when the planes land!

I'm rambling, but I'm glad to be off for Spain soon, and I'm glad for all of you. Good writing, all, and great thread @JillGat.
 
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tomnorth

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015)
I don't think Christians, among whom I number myself, own the word pilgrim. Neither does religion in a broader sense. I am a died-in-the-wool Protestant (Presbyterian), which means that the goal of reaching the supposed remains of St. James carries no special significance for me. I cannot bring myself to venerate objects as having special spiritual meaning. The spirituality of the Camino for me is in the people you meet along the way, some fellow pilgrims and others locals. I liken the Camino to a river of humanity. You just jump in and let the current carry you along. Whom you meet along the way is dependent on when and where you jump in. I walked the Camino Frances shortly after my father died. There were a few times along the Camino when the veil between life and life after death was thin and permeable. Call it what you will, but I will go to my grave knowing it was my Dad's spirit washing over me. Christians don't own that experience either.
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
A great discussion. I'm not sure there is any such thing as one definition of a "Camino Pilgrim". We are all there. All different. Some are certain of their belief, others like me less certain, others certain they don't believe, others searching. Yet we are all walking the same path. And there is a bond between us. All pilgrims.

Here is a wee thing I wrote after arriving in Santiago for the first time:

By the time we reached Santiago we had met people of all ages from many different
countries. We also met: those who had prepared and those who hadn’t, people with huge
rucksacks and those with almost nothing in their packs, people who were shy and those who
were outgoing, pilgrims who believed in God and those who didn’t, people who were happy
and people who were sad, people who had changed their lives and others who were happy
with life the way it is. We met people who had lost partners and couples walking with their
children. We met those who had experienced broken hearts and many who were falling in
love with life.
We all walked the same road and when we got to Santiago Cathedral there was a place for
each of us. Every one.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Reading everyone's posts this morning lifts my heart. This is the best thread in a while, Jill - thank you again.

We express our intentions and relationship with the way differently but we're all in harmony. And it does sound to me like we're all pilgrims.
@JillGat , you too, even if you don't identify as one.:D
(And yes @rappahannock_rev , you're right. Most of us are not pilgrims in the 'traditional' sense. But isn't it astonishing in this consumerist age that so many are walking the way, and finding something else to rest the heart upon than getting, having, and acquiring as much as possible?)

We all walked the same road and when we got to Santiago Cathedral there was a place for
each of us. Every one.
Just now, your post gives me goosebumps, @JohnnieWalker

Buen Camino, all you good people!
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Year of past OR future Camino
Reality is frequently inaccurate
There is a story of a Zen master who said his first real taste of insight was recognition of others as himself. Everyone he met had his own face. Back to the topic at hand: for me, the camino is a great equalizer. I haven't been to any other place where our common humanity and the connection to others is so tangible and easy to get a hold of.

Not only that, the knowledge that this has been going on for centuries and probably will be for centuries to come, is for some reason immensly comforting. As are all the posts on this thread. We all brought a bright spark home from this walk, and it is quite moving to see all those flames still burning.
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012
England C2C 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Le Puy ... someday.
The forum felt a bit intimidating a few weeks ago and it's been a while since I've posted. But this is an interesting topic so, with a proverbial leap of faith, I'll jump in.

First of all, it took courage to be honest on a Camino pilgrimage forum and open a conversation that is not usually seen here, so kudos for that. As a Protestant Christian, I (respectively) disagree with the OP's point of view. But, even when walking with other Christians on a Camino, a backcountry trail or even down a church aisle, the odds of completely agreeing about personal convictions are about zip-a-dee-do-dah. I absolutely love hearing about other people's beliefs and faiths. I enjoy learning the theology and history of Catholicism, the traditions and role of women in Judaism, the enviable peace of Buddhism or why someone doesn't feel the need for traditional theology at all. I don't have to agree with someone to learn from them and have my eyes opened a bit to different ways of viewing the world. My own faith has changed considerably over the years because of interactions and relationships with those of other cultural backgrounds and beliefs.

This line was a bit controversial for me, though: "The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion."

I can respect that it is the OP's opinion and she is very capable of expressing it in a safe forum, which all participants should be grateful for. But I'm not sure that sentence was necessary in a venue where there are obviously pilgrims in the traditional sense. Though it may be an opinion, I can see where it is also offensive, particularly to those of the Catholic faith, who walk the Camino routes as part of their personal religious convictions. Again, I'm not Catholic. But when I walk a historically Roman Catholic pilgrimage route, it is walked with respect for the religion, history and its believers. I am there as a guest, act accordingly and come home richer for the experience.

It feels as though I'm a minority here today (and may get dinged for the first time by the moderators?) and am not sure where this leap of faith will take me. The only thing I know for sure, strictly within my own personal beliefs and without proselytizing, is this safety net (and this is where I fear getting dinged):

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
 
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Jopoke

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September 2015
Lisbon to Santigo May 2016
Porto coastal route to Santiago Oct 2016
Great thread giving many reasons why we walk it. I did my first in 2015 like many after watching "The Way". I found my faith again within a couple of days in Zalbadiki after speaking to Sister Teresa. I'd fallen out with the church many years ago but after walking the Camino I found my faith in people I walked with and the wonderful people that work in the albergues. You don't have to believe in God or St James for me is the simplistic way of life, the other pilgrims, the beautiful country and of course the walk it's self.
My partner doesn't believe but pays back into the Camino by pickling up litter lol.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
My partner doesn't believe but pays back into the Camino by pickling up litter lol.
Brilliant, a worship all of us can do! :D
(But seriously, once you start doing that, watch out. Because it's an addictive happiness engine, and you'll be walking a bit more slowly than you might otherwise. Leaving the Camino cleaner than you found it is such a great feeling. Just make sure to take a big enough plastic bag to get you to the next village, because the Camino doesn't always provide one. I digress. Sorry...)
 

Finisterre

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria 2001,
Porto 2006,
Valenca 2008,
Finisterre 2010,
SJdPP 2012,
Tui 2014.

No plans to return, yet.
I'm an atheist but I believe the way our consciousness works allows and facilitates numinous experiences. It must do, I've had them on a couple of occasions listening to Shostakovitch and Mahler. Opening yourself to any available genuine spiritual ecstasy (rather than drug induced) makes sense to me. Going on a pilgrimage is to deliberately put yourself in the way of an uncertain and ineffable joy. I'd be foolish not to go on pilgrimage. Particularly as I love Spain, walking, ancient tracks, old churches, shady spots, meeting new people, and making lists.

There isn't anything out there but it definitely feels like there is. I'm open to it. And I like Christians. I respect their ethos.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Interesting, @JillGat that I agree with everything you said in your post, but I would have titled the same post: I am a "Camino pilgrim".

I am not a joiner, I dislike being labelled, and have no religious faith, but the Camino appealed to me. When I started the first time, I could not use the word "pilgrim" with ease at all, and certainly not in reference to myself. However, within a few days I 'got it' and now I consider myself to be a pilgrim when I am on the Camino. I am a pilgrim-on-a-break when I am not there.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Hi Rob - Sorry if this is too personal a question (and if so, please disregard) but after reading all the posts of this thread with interest I came back to yours with a great sense of curiousity about why you would think long walks anywhere else in the world would be a pointless exercise? While I do cherish the Camino experience I cannot walk it more than every few years if I'm lucky enough to get time away. I use this 'other' time to walk on various other paths and find that I still find much value to my inner well-being. No judgement of course, just an interesting point-of-view that you presented.

Hi @jozero
Sure. It's a good question.
And of the course the answer, (bit long, sorry) is purely my own weird perspective ;) So don't shoot me...

I occasionally go Bushwalking here at home, or closer to a Camino; training walks in our local park which is nice.

But that's it. They are 'nice' walks, nothing else. I wouldn't get up an hour early to do one before work, or take a day out from the office to go walking. They are just 'walks'....

But I have walked in other places. In Tasmania around Cradle Mountain. Many moons ago I walked often (because I had to as part of my training) in the hills of Wales, the Lake District in Northern England (in White Out Blizzards), the South Downs and many other places. Usually carrying a heavy load and moving fast. They were not pleasant experiences. Just necessary, to build fitness, survival skills, leadership skills or whatever.

So perhaps for me, and I hadn't thought of it this way till responding to your question, but perhaps for me walking/hiking was always part of my job? Not recreation. Who knows. That was all 3 & 4 decades ago.

So 'throw on a pack' and walk 500 miles through the Hills? Why? What's the point?

Then comes the Camino. I'll admit sparked by 'that' Movie. I had never heard of it till then.

This seemed like a journey with real purpose. This is not walking or hiking. For me, that's the last thing it is.
I think of it as 'meditation in motion'......

So what makes it different? What makes it not just a walk?

For me it's these:

  1. There is a clear destination. The Tomb of St James. This is a big one for me. Not St James per se, but the clear destination. It's kind of a destination with a higher purpose if that makes sense. A 'worthy' goal.
  2. There is a clear purpose. For me it's to step out of my normal World, get closer to myself, get closer to my God....to challenge myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To grow in the process. To hopefully end a better person.
  3. Commitment. In me at least, walking the Camino instils a huge sense of commitment. Of not giving up. Of tackling any challenge that faces me. It's like I have made a 'promise' to a higher power, to reach Santiago no matter what. Although interestingly, whilst walking, Santiago is usually far from my thoughts. The day and the 'now' are my true focus. The journey really is the destination .... every day. I never really understood that before.
  4. There is a profound sense of History. Walking along those Roman roads I almost 'felt' the Pilgrims through the Ages walking before me. Felt their purpose, felt their hardships. It's hard not to.
  5. It's a Spiritual road in every sense. I stop in Churches every day. At least once. Just to sit quietly alone. To give thanks for my life and for being able to make the journey. To think of those who cannot make this journey. Those who have passed. I light candles for them. And to just listen... I should add that I'm not a 'formal' church goer or 'formal' Christian. I have no real interest in formalised religion as such. I don't really understand most of it. I call myself Spiritual rather than Religious. But in every Church along the Camino, I sense my God is with me. (And Yes he's that God in the Bible). He's at the roadside crosses, at the tops of the Hills when I stop to take in the view....
  6. The People. The local people who support the Pilgrims. And of course the other Pilgrims/Hikers. I mentioned to someone in a PM yesterday, I would rarely if ever talk about Religious matters with anyone, even on the Camino. Unless they opened the topic. So it is not any kind of Religious connection. It's just a 'human' connection. With dozens and hundreds of other people who have a similar 'sense' of purpose and intention, even though they are different purposes or intentions. We are all headed the same way, toward similar goals, with a common Spirit of Community and sharing.
So? Do I want to walk 'various other paths'? What do you think? :D

I've found my emotional and spiritual 'high' and I'm now hooked.... ;) Substitutes don't really work for me.

So it's the combination of all of these things that draws me to the Camino. And the lack of most of them, in a local 'walk' that makes a local walk seem rather pointless.

Some might say I walk in a Dream World. That the Camino is not real. Just a fantasy.
That might be true. Certainly in 'their' minds.

I'll just keep walking in my Dream World then........ and they can walk in theirs :p
 
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CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
As the prophets say:
"It doesn't matter what you wear
Just as long as you are there!"

The Camino de Santiago. Be there.
Aloha.


This is the version that most of us know, and out of respect to Motown, here it is!
 
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jozero

Been there, going again...
Year of past OR future Camino
CF x 3
And of the course the answer, (bit long, sorry) is purely my own weird perspective ;) So don't shoot me...
I like the long answers, interesting perspectives and believe in never shooting the messenger! Thanks, Rob, I appreciate you taking the time to share these thoughts and the ideas that led to the words. Easy to see/read/feel you have found something in your life that is special and, rightly so, to be anticipated.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
[[This line was a bit controversial for me, though: "The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion."]]

Let me re-frame this and just say that I hope every path you walk in your life might be as sacred as the camino. Let everyone in your life be as easy to love as the one you just met over a cafe con leche.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino frances to Fisterra/Muxia 2013, twice in 2014, 2015, twice in 2016, 2017, a week on the VdlP
I wonder what defines a place as having power. It is not just religions that create sacred places. People and their cultural identity also do. Back home in Aotearoa the Maori people hold earth mother Papatuanuku as central to their moaritanga or identity. Recently the river Wanganui was given legal status as a living entity with personhood.

To me, the Camino is a unique place that does have power because it does allow us to experience something we normally don't.

For example, the OP said "The reason I feel compelled to walk the Camino, and to travel, to climb mountains, and even to ride my motorcycle fast is that it is much easier to be PRESENT during these adventures." and is that not the point? The world is manic and if a place or activity or object allows us to step outside and experience something then isn't that enough to give it some credit? Yoga is a practice that many follow because it allows just that and the word yoga means "to connect". Perhaps walking is a type of yoga and the Camino a place to practice that yoga. It has a power simply because it allows....allows us to connect with ourselves or our God or with others.

The OP also said "the Camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is." and for me the operative word was Potential. Yes, anything in life has the potential but sometimes something does stand out and it is ok to acknowledge that. The fact that so many people have experienced something indefinable on the Camino is in itself enough reason to give it some credit as having power. The power to transform/heal/enlighten. The list is non-exhaustive I imagine.

Ultimately the power invested by those who walk is the power of the Camino. Many people will attribute significance to something if it has helped them achieve. Churches are often special simply because they offer a quiet sanctuary from the outside world. It is easier to pray in quiet and you are not distracted. Could any building offer the same? Yes, but most don't and there is another factor to consider-churches are powerful to many because they are dedicated to a purpose. And the Camino is dedicated to walking with a spiritual perspective intended so has a power other places do not.

The Camino is my therapy room....a place where the "real" world is shut out for a month at a time. No bills, no phone calls, no visitors....just me and my thoughts. It's a powerful thing for me. Yes, I might be able to find other places similar but that doesn't stop me from giving a nod of thanks to the Camino. An inanimate tract of land or a corridor to what you might be needing? Who knows, but credit where credit is due, there is magic in the Camino De Santiago. Im just pleased so many get to enjoy it regardless of belief.
 
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Camino frances to Fisterra/Muxia 2013, twice in 2014, 2015, twice in 2016, 2017, a week on the VdlP
Hi @jozero
Sure. It's a good question.
And of the course the answer, (bit long, sorry) is purely my own weird perspective ;) So don't shoot me...

I occasionally go Bushwalking here at home, or closer to a Camino; training walks in our local park which is nice.

But that's it. They are 'nice' walks, nothing else. I wouldn't get up an hour early to do one before work, or take a day out from the office to go walking. They are just 'walks'....

But I have walked in other places. In Tasmania around Cradle Mountain. Many moons ago I walked often (because I had to as part of my training) in the hills of Wales, the Lake District in Northern England (in White Out Blizzards), the South Downs and many other places. Usually carrying a heavy load and moving fast. They were not pleasant experiences. Just necessary, to build fitness, survival skills, leadership skills or whatever.

So perhaps for me, and I hadn't thought of it this way till responding to your question, but perhaps for me walking/hiking was always part of my job? Not recreation. Who knows. That was all 3 & 4 decades ago.

So 'throw on a pack' and walk 500 miles through the Hills? Why? What's the point?

Then comes the Camino. I'll admit sparked by 'that' Movie. I had never heard of it till then.

This seemed like a journey with real purpose. This is not walking or hiking. For me, that's the last thing it is.
I think of it as 'meditation in motion'......

So what makes it different? What makes it not just a walk?

For me it's these:

  1. There is a clear destination. The Tomb of St James. This is a big one for me. Not St James per se, but the clear destination. It's kind of a destination with a higher purpose if that makes sense. A 'worthy' goal.
  2. There is a clear purpose. For me it's to step out of my normal World, get closer to myself, get closer to my God....to challenge myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To grow in the process. To hopefully end a better person.
  3. Commitment. In me at least, walking the Camino instils a huge sense of commitment. Of not giving up. Of tackling any challenge that faces me. It's like I have made a 'promise' to a higher power, to reach Santiago no matter what. Although interestingly, whilst walking, Santiago is usually far from my thoughts. The day and the 'now' are my true focus. The journey really is the destination .... every day. I never really understood that before.
  4. There is a profound sense of History. Walking along those Roman roads I almost 'felt' the Pilgrims through the Ages walking before me. Felt their purpose, felt their hardships. It's hard not to.
  5. It's a Spiritual road in every sense. I stop in Churches every day. At least once. Just to sit quietly alone. To give thanks for my life and for being able to make the journey. To think of those who cannot make this journey. Those who have passed. I light candles for them. And to just listen... I should add that I'm not a 'formal' church goer or 'formal' Christian. I have no real interest in formalised religion as such. I don't really understand most of it. I call myself Spiritual rather than Religious. But in every Church along the Camino, I sense my God is with me. (And Yes he's that God in the Bible). He's at the roadside crosses, at the tops of the Hills when I stop to take in the view....
  6. The People. The local people who support the Pilgrims. And of course the other Pilgrims/Hikers. I mentioned to someone in a PM yesterday, I would rarely if ever talk about Religious matters with anyone, even on the Camino. Unless they opened the topic. So it is not any kind of Religious connection. It's just a 'human' connection. With dozens and hundreds of other people who have a similar 'sense' of purpose and intention, even though they are different purposes or intentions. We are all headed the same way, toward similar goals, with a common Spirit of Community and sharing.
So? Do I want to walk 'various other paths'? What do you think? :D

I've found my emotional and spiritual 'high' and I'm now hooked.... ;) Substitutes don't really work for me.

So it's the combination of all of these things that draws me to the Camino. And the lack of most of them, in a local 'walk' that makes a local walk seem rather pointless.

Some might say I walk in a Dream World. That the Camino is not real. Just a fantasy.
That might be true. Certainly in 'their' minds.

I'll just keep walking in my Dream World then........ and they can walk in theirs :p


Such a great and very insightful post. Thank you for sharing. It is a very eloquent and succinct. I struggle to explain to friends what the Camino holds for me but this is perfect.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
I wonder what defines a place as having power. It is not just religions that create sacred places. People and their cultural identity also do. Back home in Aotearoa the Maori people hold earth mother Papatuanuku as central to their moaritanga or identity. Recently the river Wanganui was given legal status as a living entity with personhood...

Yes, I remember the flack that status got, almost as much as if Whanganui has an h in it. But for all that, float down that mighty river, look up at the punga clad banks and feel the power of the place, surely we are floating down between Papatuanukus thighs.

Pagans once walked westward guided by the Milky Way to Finestere, like wise Polynesian navigated by the southern cross to find home, stand at Cape Reinga, look out across the ocean and then tell me this place doesn't have spiritual power.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
Hi @jozero
...So what makes it different? What makes it not just a walk?

Rob, a brilliant and insightful post which will resonate with almost everyone, I think. You have certainly "nailed it" for me. I feel like memorising your six points, so that I can always provide an answer when I'm questioned "What, you're doing it again?"
We should make this required reading for all first-timers!
Thanks for taking the time to express yourself so comprehensively.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino frances to Fisterra/Muxia 2013, twice in 2014, 2015, twice in 2016, 2017, a week on the VdlP
Yes, I remember the flack that status got, almost as much as if Whanganui has an h in it. But for all that, float down that mighty river, look up at the punga clad banks and feel the power of the place, surely we are floating down between Papatuanukus thighs.

Pagans once walked westward guided by the Milky Way to Finestere, like wise Polynesian navigated by the southern cross to find home, stand at Cape Reinga, look out across the ocean and then tell me this place doesn't have spiritual power.

You say punga, I say ponga but you are right of course, Whanganui does have an H in it. I am guilty of using the pakeha spelling because the local iwi dialect drops the H but that is a feeble excuse so thank you for pointing it out to me. Te Reo deserves more respect.

I have not had the pleasure of visiting the Whanganui River but I agree about Cape Reinga and I love that the Milky Way lays above The Way. That would invest power in me, real or not! Might explain what managed to keep me walking! I guess at the very least the Camino is a Ley Line that produces power from its investors and is actually enough for me but i do believe so much more is true. To each their own I think. I do wish all my roads had yellow bricks, although, on a good day, they do.
 
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VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
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Tracying

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
France, Le Puy (2018)
Really interesting reading and a lot to think about. I too have no religious beliefs and many of my husbands family can't understand why I want to walk the Camino

Well very simply its because I can.

I want to walk the Le Puy route to SJPDP. I don't want to walk through Spain....why, simple its too hot for me.

I am choosing this walk because as already said it has an excellent infrastructure in place and is somewhere I will feel safe on my own
Of course this safety factor with me is due to the fact that it is a pilgrimage for so many

I want to go out for a walk and return home about 5 weeks later, the Camino allows me to do that.

While I don't have any religious beliefs I greatly respects the beliefs of others and admire the fact that so many make this pilgrimage.

I want to walk on paths throdden by so many thousands before me and feel the history. I want to stand in medieval churches and feel all that have gone before me.

And yes I want to live in the moment and find walking does this for me.

I'm in France now and love the old churches and chapels, I must have been in 6 in the last 2 days. I enjoy the feeling of hundreds of years of people gathered in one place. And in each one I light a candle.....as a non beleiver why? Its for all those who do believe.
 

Jopoke

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September 2015
Lisbon to Santigo May 2016
Porto coastal route to Santiago Oct 2016
Hi @jozero
Sure. It's a good question.
And of the course the answer, (bit long, sorry) is purely my own weird perspective ;) So don't shoot me...

I occasionally go Bushwalking here at home, or closer to a Camino; training walks in our local park which is nice.

But that's it. They are 'nice' walks, nothing else. I wouldn't get up an hour early to do one before work, or take a day out from the office to go walking. They are just 'walks'....

But I have walked in other places. In Tasmania around Cradle Mountain. Many moons ago I walked often (because I had to as part of my training) in the hills of Wales, the Lake District in Northern England (in White Out Blizzards), the South Downs and many other places. Usually carrying a heavy load and moving fast. They were not pleasant experiences. Just necessary, to build fitness, survival skills, leadership skills or whatever.

So perhaps for me, and I hadn't thought of it this way till responding to your question, but perhaps for me walking/hiking was always part of my job? Not recreation. Who knows. That was all 3 & 4 decades ago.

So 'throw on a pack' and walk 500 miles through the Hills? Why? What's the point?

Then comes the Camino. I'll admit sparked by 'that' Movie. I had never heard of it till then.

This seemed like a journey with real purpose. This is not walking or hiking. For me, that's the last thing it is.
I think of it as 'meditation in motion'......

So what makes it different? What makes it not just a walk?

For me it's these:

  1. There is a clear destination. The Tomb of St James. This is a big one for me. Not St James per se, but the clear destination. It's kind of a destination with a higher purpose if that makes sense. A 'worthy' goal.
  2. There is a clear purpose. For me it's to step out of my normal World, get closer to myself, get closer to my God....to challenge myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To grow in the process. To hopefully end a better person.
  3. Commitment. In me at least, walking the Camino instils a huge sense of commitment. Of not giving up. Of tackling any challenge that faces me. It's like I have made a 'promise' to a higher power, to reach Santiago no matter what. Although interestingly, whilst walking, Santiago is usually far from my thoughts. The day and the 'now' are my true focus. The journey really is the destination .... every day. I never really understood that before.
  4. There is a profound sense of History. Walking along those Roman roads I almost 'felt' the Pilgrims through the Ages walking before me. Felt their purpose, felt their hardships. It's hard not to.
  5. It's a Spiritual road in every sense. I stop in Churches every day. At least once. Just to sit quietly alone. To give thanks for my life and for being able to make the journey. To think of those who cannot make this journey. Those who have passed. I light candles for them. And to just listen... I should add that I'm not a 'formal' church goer or 'formal' Christian. I have no real interest in formalised religion as such. I don't really understand most of it. I call myself Spiritual rather than Religious. But in every Church along the Camino, I sense my God is with me. (And Yes he's that God in the Bible). He's at the roadside crosses, at the tops of the Hills when I stop to take in the view....
  6. The People. The local people who support the Pilgrims. And of course the other Pilgrims/Hikers. I mentioned to someone in a PM yesterday, I would rarely if ever talk about Religious matters with anyone, even on the Camino. Unless they opened the topic. So it is not any kind of Religious connection. It's just a 'human' connection. With dozens and hundreds of other people who have a similar 'sense' of purpose and intention, even though they are different purposes or intentions. We are all headed the same way, toward similar goals, with a common Spirit of Community and sharing.
So? Do I want to walk 'various other paths'? What do you think? :D

I've found my emotional and spiritual 'high' and I'm now hooked.... ;) Substitutes don't really work for me.

So it's the combination of all of these things that draws me to the Camino. And the lack of most of them, in a local 'walk' that makes a local walk seem rather pointless.

Some might say I walk in a Dream World. That the Camino is not real. Just a fantasy.
That might be true. Certainly in 'their' minds.

I'll just keep walking in my Dream World then........ and they can walk in theirs :p
Wonderfully put.
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
What a great post and great answers - and all so honest and kind too!!

I can only respond from what my understanding is - it isn't 'truth' it is merely how I present my self, move through this life.

I am a Christian, though a non-Trinitarian Franciscan so a heretic to many ... I think we can agree that apart from a very small section of people we all think that 'something else is going on'? That life itself is a riddle to be explained ...
the lovely opening post contained "I find that I am much more open to all the magic and lessons that life teaches us" and I think that most of us can feel like that - but, think about that .. one can only have those thoughts if one has a belief that something else is going on .. that there is construct to reality, that it isn't random ... and it is from that that all religions seem to have their roots ... trying to answer that riddle.

Any physicist will tell you that the 3d solid reality we see is an illusion - some are even coming to the belief that all this may be a hologram .. which would make it both real and a dream - which, strangely, fits in to the Christian world view - Paul wrote that "in him we live and move and have our being" - (Mods - not selling religion here! merely mentioning ways of answering the riddle, different words, same conclusion ...)

So, does Camino have something that other places don't have? Who knows - what we do know is that 'coincidences' happen at an extraordinarily high rate and that some people have life-changing experiences - is this because the Camino is a special place or because with the trappings of civilisation left behind we are more able to notice that something else is going on? Who knows.

To me this going on Camino is being called, to me that is how it is, and it matters not to me whether people respond as 'pilgrims' or 'hikers' - or, to quote from the film, Withnail and I -"we have come on holiday by mistake, can you help us?" :)

Realisation can happen anywhere, not only on Camino, not only on a wilderness trail .. it can happen in a supermarket, a shopping mall, for a close friend of mine it happened unexpectedly in a busy noise and people filled train station in Australia - but it can and often does happen. For me being drawn to Camino has nothing to do with being religious or not, religious or aetheist or agnostic ..... to me the riddle can be answered by considering the relationship between the dance and the dancer .. and that on Camino, set up as it is to take care of all our basic needs and leaving us free to move westwards and experience ... that relationship, between the dance and the dancer, can be pondered.
And, whatever our beliefs or non beliefs, the very fact that we go means that we are all Camino Pilrims!

Buen Camino to you all.
 
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Irish Bernie

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francis 2013-2014-2015,16 and June 2017,May 2018,Sept 2018.
There is my confession, and now let me try to explain it. I respect and cheer on others' spiritual perspectives and experiences, walking the Camino de Santiago. All of your experiences and beliefs are as valid, real and true as mine are. So I hope you will allow me to share my personal view.

I am not a Christian. I do not believe that the bones of Jesus' apostle James are buried in Santiago de Compostela. This religious faith aspect of the historic Camino is meaningful to many people, but it's not why I walk. I am not a "pilgrim" in that sense.

I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons." Let me clarify this in an important way: the camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is. The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.

I love the natural and cultural beauty of the camino across northern Spain. Standing in a village, knowing about the colorful history that occurred on this spot centuries before, is thrilling. I cherish the conversations and time I share with other international walkers and especially with local Spanish people (whose ancestors often go back centuries in those villages). I am intrigued to be walking in the footsteps of pilgrims for over a thousand years. Traveling on foot, experiencing the gradual changes in the ecological zones; different climates, new flowers and unique birds, is amazing.

Lately, in preparation for returning to walk the camino (only five days from now), I've been taking long training hikes along the ancient acequias (water ditches) in my city. Some parts of my walk divert onto paved streets and, while standing at an intersection wearing my backpack, I watch the faces of people driving by. There is a common blank stare; drivers are reviewing where they just came from in the past ("When she did/said that, I should have said...") and thinking about where they are going next in the future ("I wonder if there will be dinner waiting for me at home. I need to be sure to put the trash bin out for the garbage man tomorrow" or even "five days from now I leave for Spain"). Past and future chatter. What a waste of our short lives on earth, while the PRESENT fleets by.

While I am walking the camino or - actually - whenever I am traveling in unfamiliar parts of the world or even hiking in the wilderness near my home, I find that I am much more open to all the magic and lessons that life teaches us. When I am going about my "routine" life, I often operate on auto-pilot and am dulled to these opportunities. It is something that I constantly try to fight. It's a shame, because our lives on earth are short and I feel like I waste a lot of time not being awake Right. Now.

The reason I feel compelled to walk the camino, and to travel, to climb mountains, and even to ride my motorcycle fast is that it is much easier to be PRESENT during these adventures.

Packing what I will carry with me (and not packing my fears) is a valuable Buddhist exercise. My biggest challenge is to stay present until I leave and especially to continue to do so after I come home from walking the camino.

Wow my thoughts EXACTLY !!!
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
What is a "belief system"? I believe it to be the lens through which we view the world. We view the world through the perception of our individual "bag of experience". I see my "bag of experience" as the sum total of all of the events, feelings and occurrences which have made my life. I figuratively stuff these events into my bag and then perceive the world through the prism of this collection. As I age and experience more things, I discard things from the bag and add new things. In this, each of has a different "bag of experience". None of these bags are less valid or important to the individual than any other. People we are in close proximity to, in meaningful times, affect the contents of our "bag". Walking the Camino is definitely a meaningful time.

I am not a pure Christian, although this was my upbringing. I see the world through the experience of being exposed to a variety of religious beliefs and other person's experiences. I am, however, a very spiritual person and take great delight in wilderness, historical ethos and long distance walking. What makes the Camino different and meaningful for me, is that I walk it with Christians. The conversations and exposure to their belief in why they walk and what they are walking towards, is always a source of peace to me. I may even rearrange my "bag of experience" ;)

Not going to debate, as this sometimes goes to places best not traveled... But, my use of words was NOT intended to preclude any set or system, of beliefs, or absence of same.

A person believes what they believes, or does not. It is not for me to judge...Camino Rule One. I accept and respect all beliefs, or absence of same.

I hope this clarifies...and helps.
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
Not going to debate, as this sometimes goes to places best not traveled... But, my use of words was NOT intended to preclude any set or system, of beliefs, or absence of same.

A person believes what they believes, or does not. It is not for me to judge...Camino Rule One. I accept and respect all beliefs, or absence of same.

I hope this clarifies...and helps.

@t2andreo -- I hope you know that I think you're great!

Every time I see one of your posts, I wonder if I need to be more visible on the road...
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Year of past OR future Camino
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tjb1013

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
In line of all beautiful and uplifting comments here I like to post this link from Ecclesiastes ( also to be found in the Camino book I mentioned in an earlier post ).

Almost poetry ....

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ecclesiastes-31-8

Such a timeless and beautiful piece. Wislawa Szymborska had no problem removing the "almost".

Another way to think about the unbroken chain of Pilgrims who share an experience but for whom the journey is unique, from her Nobel lecture:

I sometimes dream of a situation that can’t possibly come true. I audaciously imagine that I have a chance to chat with Ecclesiastes, the author of that moving lament on the vanity of all human endeavors. I bow very deeply before him, because he is one of the greatest poets, for me at least. Then I grab his hand. “There’s nothing new under the sun”: that’s what you wrote, Ecclesiastes. But you yourself were new under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun, since those who lived before you couldn’t read your poem. And that cypress under which you’re sitting hasn’t been growing since the dawn of time. It came into being by way of another cypress similar to yours, but not exactly the same.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Such a timeless and beautiful piece. Wislawa Szymborska had no problem removing the "almost".

Another way to think about the unbroken chain of Pilgrims who share an experience but for whom the journey is unique, from her Nobel lecture:

Thank you fellow Szymborska fan!!
I will try to dig up a poem by Fernando Pessoa that also captures these sentiments well.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
It is interesting and refreshing to read the different understandings of what "pilgrim" and "pilgrimage" mean - all being offered and received generously and with respect. I just read a Galician newspaper's report on a theological conference being held in Santiago at the moment and reflecting on the Reformation and its legacy. El Correo Gallego reported that in his opening speech to the conference the Archbishop of Santiago made some comments that fit very well with the discussion here on whether the Camino is for the religious, the secular or those who find it hard to define themselves in those terms:

"Monseñor Barrio indicó, además, que a la dimensión espiritual del Camino se une la cultural y que “en la meta de la peregrinación jacobea, se abre un gran atrio, la Plaza del Obradoiro, el lugar simbólico más adecuado para dar un nuevo impulso al encuentro respetuoso y amistoso entre personas de convicciones religiosas diferentes. “La Plaza del Obradoiro”, apuntó, “debe ser el “Atrio de los Gentiles”, lugar simbólico donde “creyentes y no creyentes reencuentren el camino del diálogo”. Dijo también que “la cuestión de Dios no es un peligro para la sociedad, no pone en peligro la vida humana, no debe estar ausente de los grandes interrogantes de nuestro tiempo”.

"Monsenor Barrio also indicated that the spiritual dimension of the Way is linked to the cultural and that "at the goal of the Jacobean pilgrimage, opens a large atrium, Plaza del Obradoiro, the most appropriate symbolic place to give a new impetus to the respectful and friendly encounter between people of different religious convictions. "The Plaza del Obradoiro," he said, "must be the" Atrium of the Gentiles ", a symbolic place where " believers and non-believers rediscover the path of dialogue ". He also said that "the question of God is not a danger to society, does not endanger human life, should not be absent from the great questions of our time." (Google Translation)

http://www.elcorreogallego.es/santi...entes/idEdicion-2017-09-07/idNoticia-1072072/
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
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San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@hotelmedicis , Hahahahaha!
" believers and non-believers rediscover the path of dialogue "
Beautiful. And if we are any indication (at least in this thread) it seems to be so.
Dialog depends on presence, sensitivity, mutual respect, and open hearts - not any belief system.
Whether we think we're pilgrims or not, whether we're religious or not, walking the Camino can bring these.
 
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Peaceable Projects Inc.
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Purple Backpack

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012
England C2C 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Le Puy ... someday.
[[This line was a bit controversial for me, though: "The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion."]]

Let me re-frame this and just say that I hope every path you walk in your life might be as sacred as the camino. Let everyone in your life be as easy to love as the one you just met over a cafe con leche.

I feel as though I may have offended you and, believe me, that was not my intent. Please accept my apologies and wishing you a heartfelt Buen Camino, as you are on Your Way shortly. Have a wonderful trip!
 

DLJ

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(4/2012) St.Jean to Santiago; (9/2013) Geneva to Le Puy-en-Velay and beyond
There is my confession, and now let me try to explain it. I respect and cheer on others' spiritual perspectives and experiences, walking the Camino de Santiago. All of your experiences and beliefs are as valid, real and true as mine are. So I hope you will allow me to share my personal view.

I am not a Christian. I do not believe that the bones of Jesus' apostle James are buried in Santiago de Compostela. This religious faith aspect of the historic Camino is meaningful to many people, but it's not why I walk. I am not a "pilgrim" in that sense.

I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons." Let me clarify this in an important way: the camino is no MORE essentially spiritual, magical or giving of special insights than any other part of my life potentially is. The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.

I love the natural and cultural beauty of the camino across northern Spain. Standing in a village, knowing about the colorful history that occurred on this spot centuries before, is thrilling. I cherish the conversations and time I share with other international walkers and especially with local Spanish people (whose ancestors often go back centuries in those villages). I am intrigued to be walking in the footsteps of pilgrims for over a thousand years. Traveling on foot, experiencing the gradual changes in the ecological zones; different climates, new flowers and unique birds, is amazing.

Lately, in preparation for returning to walk the camino (only five days from now), I've been taking long training hikes along the ancient acequias (water ditches) in my city. Some parts of my walk divert onto paved streets and, while standing at an intersection wearing my backpack, I watch the faces of people driving by. There is a common blank stare; drivers are reviewing where they just came from in the past ("When she did/said that, I should have said...") and thinking about where they are going next in the future ("I wonder if there will be dinner waiting for me at home. I need to be sure to put the trash bin out for the garbage man tomorrow" or even "five days from now I leave for Spain"). Past and future chatter. What a waste of our short lives on earth, while the PRESENT fleets by.

While I am walking the camino or - actually - whenever I am traveling in unfamiliar parts of the world or even hiking in the wilderness near my home, I find that I am much more open to all the magic and lessons that life teaches us. When I am going about my "routine" life, I often operate on auto-pilot and am dulled to these opportunities. It is something that I constantly try to fight. It's a shame, because our lives on earth are short and I feel like I waste a lot of time not being awake Right. Now.

The reason I feel compelled to walk the camino, and to travel, to climb mountains, and even to ride my motorcycle fast is that it is much easier to be PRESENT during these adventures.

Packing what I will carry with me (and not packing my fears) is a valuable Buddhist exercise. My biggest challenge is to stay present until I leave and especially to continue to do so after I come home from walking the camino.

Like it or not sounds like the words of a Pilgrim to me. Welcome to the Club. In today's world of 24/7 connection many don't have the time and/or take the time to actually stop and become aware of the Present. The Present can also be a scary place for some people. The Camino for one and all gives the opportunity to find and explore the Present. We are all one people on the Camino, as on the Pilgrimage of life. DLJ
 

jsalt

Jill
Year of past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
I have absolutely no idea if I am a camino pilgrim or not . . . . can I let you know after a few more caminos when I have worked it out?
Jill
 

DLJ

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(4/2012) St.Jean to Santiago; (9/2013) Geneva to Le Puy-en-Velay and beyond
Maybe the Camino is a little side road, to work on better sign posts and repair the pot holes, for the main route our journey of life. Our main road is under repair, as we walk the Camino. The road of life is not necessarily smoother in the fast lane.
 
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Cambridge Pilgrim

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Part walked / part cycled September 2014 SJPdP to SdC
Walked SJPdP to SdC summer 2017
I love the original post on this thread.

I'm also (as in I also believe not suggesting that the OP agrees...) of the belief that it is wrong to suggest that 'The Camino will always provide'.

It (the Frances at least) is not a skip along some magical path in a faraway dreamland policed by knights in shining armour riding unicorn foals waiting to whisk you away to the nearest town with a bed; it is a hike between villages in 21st century Spain, having a greatest distance of 11 miles between them (albeit a lovely hike which has affected me greatly and which I would encourage anyone to do).

If you can't find a bed, don't rely on The Camino to do it for you. YOU have to put the effort in - maybe learn a couple of key phrases in Spanish, be sure to take your mobile phone with you even if it will mess up your wish to detach yourself from that pesky real and modern life for a few weeks.

If you happen to slip and twist an ankle then if YOU don't have YOUR mobile phone with you, you'd better hope the next ten people behind didn't want to get lost within their own world too and decided to leave their phones at home!!

Sure there ARE anecdotes of people doing incredibly generous things on the Camino, and there IS a tremendous communal spirit, but it can be just a little over-romanticised on occasion.

For all that I truly love it! I really do.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Sure there ARE anecdotes of people doing incredibly generous things on the Camino, and there IS a tremendous communal spirit, but it can be just a little over-romanticised on occasion.
Definitely.
We have to take care of ourselves, and figure out how to navigate life in this world.
That's a journey in itself. and we think it's not spiritual or a pilgrimage, but it is.

An old joke I won't repeat pokes fun at our tendency to look outside for help, when we need to hold the reins of our lives instead. How this relates to the OP? Well, I may be going off track a little, but the journey definitely teaches how to be completely here now and to be responsive to that, which is one of the things that you so clearly articulated, Jill.
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
Definitely.
We have to take care of ourselves, and figure out how to navigate life in this world.
That's a journey in itself. and we think it's not spiritual or a pilgrimage, but it is.

An old joke I won't repeat pokes fun at our tendency to look outside for help, when we need to hold the reins of our lives instead. How this relates to the OP? Well, I may be going off track a little, but the journey definitely teaches how to be completely here now and to be responsive to that, which is one of the things that you so clearly articulated, Jill.


From an Eagles song:

"so often time it happens, that we live our lives in chains...and we never even know we hold the keys"

From a Bad Company song:

"there ain't no law....that says you can't enjoy your life"
 

Robert Beenhakker

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked Camino Norte mid July 2016
Currently at work and I wasn't going to comment but just read and go back to work.

However, can I just say to everyone who has commented on the OP's original comment that it has been amazing to read the responses. Some have been so heartfelt, honest, intelligent, inspiring and complimentary that it almost defies belief..........
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
(responding to my line "The sense that the camino has this unique power is an illusion.")
I feel as though I may have offended you and, believe me, that was not my intent. Please accept my apologies and wishing you a heartfelt Buen Camino, as you are on Your Way shortly. Have a wonderful trip!

Ha, no, and I can see how that sounded a bit blunt and abrupt, like I was making this decision for everybody. Yes, I am packed and ready to go! Thanks!
 
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Sometimes you see these newspaper human interest stories about the guy who is riding his bike across the country to raise awareness about childhood cancer, or in memory of somebody who died of something. My husband always says, "Yeah, and that's a good excuse because now he GETS TO quit work and RIDE HIS BIKE ACROSS THE COUNTRY."

So when I told him I was leaving for another six weeks to walk the Camino again (while he stays home and takes care of my animals), I thought for a second I could rationalize it, saying I felt "compelled for spiritual reasons" to do this walk again and then realized immediately that he wouldn't fall for that for a second.

For others, it may be sincerely true, but it doesn't fly if you're married to a cynic.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I thought for a second I could rationalize it, saying I felt "compelled for spiritual reasons" to do this walk again and then realized immediately that he wouldn't fall for that for a second.
Hmmm...but did you think that, Jill? Just asking. :p:D
Well, muy buen camino even if you're NOT a pilgrim!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
hmmm... if may i ask, for such distance of walk doesn't bring you any at all? (i mean like joy what you see along the way)

As I explained above.........they are just walks.... Not something I would take time out of my routine to do.

Without going into detail, I am very time poor. (Day to Day) A lot of my time is not really my own. That's why I take extended periods away........on the Camino.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
One of the great benefits of walking a Camino of 'some distance' is I believe the emotional and attitudinal (is that a word) transformation that can take place. And what does 'some distance' mean?

For me at least it is measured in days on the road not kilometres. I (We) need at least 10 days just to settle into the Camino Rhythm. From there the real magic can start to work.

This transformational 'potential' is another difference between a Camino.....and a Walk, at least in my mind.

If you have the time and the mind to, this short story might demonstrate what I mean. It's a bit long, so probably not worth posting here.

Walking with my Wife could have been a Mistake!

It kind of explains why we are a lot more chilled now. Looking forward to the next long one......
 
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