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I am not a "Camino pilgrim"

nycwalking

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

Jill,

You started a wonderful thread. Thank you. Please tell us how this camino goes pilgrim or no.
Buen camino.:)
 
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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
@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...


Aw shucks maam... Just being myself, imperfections and all...;)

Thank you sincerely for your kind remarks and support over the years.
 

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)
Hmmm...but did you think that, Jill? Just asking. :p:D
Well, muy buen camino even if you're NOT a pilgrim!

Are you trying to bring me out of the pilgrim closet, VN? Of course I am a *kind* of pilgrim, just not one with spiritual answers I expect the Way to answer for me differently that any other Way in my life should. But I titled it that to make sure that you, specifically, would read it. And look at all the wonderful, thoughtful responses!
 

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)
I haven't left for the camino yet ( I leave mañana por la tarde). Yesterday, while riding around my home town, I got lost in my thoughts and then suddenly realized I was actually ON a real-live, historic (also spiritual for some?) Camino in my home town.

So there I was, riding my motorbike around town running last-minute errands, wearing that same blank stare I described in my first post. I was thinking of what I had done earlier and what I still needed to do to get ready and how it will feel to hoist my pack and take those first steps out of Pamplona.

Then I flashed on this thread, and my point - kind of - that our lives are our camino and how I try to be aware and present for it always. So I brought myself back to where I was, on Edith St. in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The sun was hot, but there were dark rain clouds over the mountain bringing a fresh breeze. The green chile crop from farms in the southern part of the state has just arrived in Albuquerque, and I could smell them roasting over flames in the turning barrels outside as I passed grocery stores and farmers' markets. This aroma is when you know autumn has arrived in New Mexico.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/chile-roasting-in-albuquerque-57640

The harvest time has begun here, and I will be gone for most of it. I will miss helping to pick the grapes at the winery near my house. But I will be soon be walking through Spanish vineyards ready for their own harvest. Spanish grapes. And that brought me to the sudden realization/remembrance that I was right then ON the Camino Real, now called Edith St NW.

In 1629, Spanish Franciscan monks carried the very first grape vines up this exact path where I sat in traffic on my motorcycle, now Edith St.

The modern streets in Albuquerque are mostly straight, and you can recognize the ancient and historic routes by the way they curve around, avoid the areas that used to flood, dip down to the river every few miles. Edith is one of those very old roads; part of the historic Camino Real, the original road from Mexico City to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Camino Real brought Spanish conquistadores and settlers to this region that was then called Nueva España. They came on foot, on horses, mules, and with large ox-drawn carts. Before the Spanish, indigenous people used this road, 2290 km (1423 miles) long, back and forth as an important north-south trading route. You can believe it was a spiritual journey for many of them, even hoping just to survive it.

Byron and I have explored sections of the Camino Real through remote parts of the state and found artifacts from the Spanish and even two arrowheads from indigenous people, hunting along the way. It was a treacherous journey in those days; one long part, with little protection or water is called Jornada del Muerte.

https://www.desertusa.com/desert-trails/jornada-del-muerto.html

On my moto, past car parts stores, pawn shops, grocery stores and a few crumbling adobe homes, I felt like a pilgrim.
 
Last edited:

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)
On my moto, past car parts stores, pawn shops, grocery stores and a few crumbling adobe homes, I felt like a pilgrim again.
Jeez Louise, Jill...that's some post. So wonderful it's given me goosebumps. Full circle.

Are you trying to bring me out of the pilgrim closet, VN? Of course I am a *kind* of pilgrim, just not one with spiritual answers I expect the Way to answer for me differently that any other Way in my life should. But I titled it that to make sure that you, specifically, would read it. And look at all the wonderful, thoughtful responses!
Hahahahaha!
And there are lots of other things I could also say but won't. :D
Just buen camino, sister of the road!
 
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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)
From JSalt: [[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]]

Response from nycwalking:
Jill,
You started a wonderful thread. Thank you. Please tell us how this camino goes pilgrim or no.
Buen camino.:)

Thank you, nycwalking. But just so there isn't confusion, the post you responded to (above your quote there) is from JSalt, a different Jill. And it's nice to *meet* another Jill!
 

nycwalking

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

Response from nycwalking:


Thank you, nycwalking. But just so there isn't confusion, the post you responded to (above your quote there) is from JSalt, a different Jill. And it's nice to *meet* another Jill!

Oops!:eek:
 

Gazelle2

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
19th May 2014
Jill,

Well said indeed!!! I have not got a religious bone in my body and I have walked The Portuguese The Le Puy and the Frances twice, what makes me keep coming back for more? The people I meet and seeing humanity at it best, all sharing what they have got and caring for each other, where creed and colour are an irrelevance.
Are the bones of St James in Santiago? I know not but doubt it, but the good he has done bringing thousands of people together who have forged lifelong friendships, born out of adversity, all I know is St James gets my vote !!!!
 
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Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
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
Camino Frances 2014
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Frances 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.


Thank you for sharing this. I'm very interested to your views, especially when you write, "My biggest challenge is to stay present until I leave...."

I have walked the Camino twice and I still have difficulty expressing what this that specifically draws me back. I am walking it again next summer. Maybe I'll discover the meaning of the Camino for me.
 

Debora

Beautiful Burgos
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Santiago May (2016)
SJPdP to Belorado May (2019)
So, by now you must be ready to leave for your journey. All of us who have answered you here on this forum go with you...may you feel our love in every step.
Buen Camino our beautiful sister.
journey heart quote.jpg
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Year of past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
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.
Thank you for a very thought provoking piece. Your view is as valid as the next person and you are dead right about awareness.How many of us actually live in the present moment? We spend too much of our lives wishing it away, in my humble opinion. One often hears people say " I can't wait for the weekend" what about the other 5 days? You may not be Christian JillGat but I think you are spiritual because you are reflective and contemplative.What the Camino does for most people is it helps focus peoples lives. It takes them away from the rat race of life, it's time out, a time to think and share. You seem to have found that already. The Camino doesn't have to be a big religious experience for everybody we all have our varied reasons for going. Faith or no faith all are welcome lets say the Camino just helps reset our compass but what do I know:p
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Hi Jill,

There is a discord in your telling confession, which I appreciate and respect.

The Camino is certainly based in Catholic lore and also steeped in Christian History. But for me, religious evolution has brought me to believe that if I am seen as Christian, I am also Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Baha'i, just for starters.

What this says is that if we follow any religion, we also have a standard set of shared beliefs. Is it not interesting that, 2,000 years, more and less by a couple more 1,000 years, each major population on this planet was visited by what is defined as a, "higher being," and a religion was left behind. This religion provided a set of values that are pretty much universal.

With the bones of Saint James, he began as a man. There are bones in Santiago de Compostela. Are they the bones of Saint James? Those who believe they are, and walk the Camino, are Believers and Pilgrims. I put forward the argument that anyone who believes in those values that were taught to them throughout their lives, are indeed also believers, maybe not specifically in Christian or Catholic tomes, but believers in everything that they stand for.

We are much more alike than we realize, not as different as some may have us believe.

I do not offer this to light a fire and fan the flames but to provide a different possibility where, if found acceptable, the label of, "Pilgrim," is perhaps applicable after all.
 
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Giopomerol

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
It's not how many ....but how much you've gained. Future? Life itself is a Camino.
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.”
Thank you for such a beautiful post. The best I have read in this forum since I joined.

I too took offense to the sentence you quoted so much so that the OP didn't deserve my attention any more. I'm staggered with all the pats on the back she gets but you and I in the meantime fear being moderated because of our beliefs. I am writing to let you know that we may be a minority but hopefully not a silent one. God bless.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
JillGat said:
It was a treacherous journey in those days; one long part, with little protection or water is called Jornada del Muerte.
That suddenly rang a bell... isn't the Trinity Test Site along there somewhere?
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Year of past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
Thank you for such a beautiful post. The best I have read in this forum since I joined.

I too took offense to the sentence you quoted so much so that the OP didn't deserve my attention any more. I'm staggered with all the pats on the back she gets but you and I in the meantime fear being moderated because of our beliefs. I am writing to let you know that we may be a minority but hopefully not a silent one. God bless.
Not sure that everybody agreed with all JillGats sentiments,we were just admitting it was a point of view. I think she was only expressing her own opinion that the' magic of the Camino is an illusion'. We all see things diferently, not necessarily radically. Some have a stong faith some are in between while others are on the cusp, still more have none at all. I think it is pointless becoming upset by what others may think because I know what I think. JillGats comments did not offend me, she stated something from her perspective thats all. She has her views and I have mine and I think she was very respectful as a whole. I think that it is great that people of all faiths and none walk the Camino, thats where the sharing comes in food and ideas. I always encourage dialogue whether I agree with what is been said or not.You cant hurt God.
 
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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)
To the moderators, If you end up having to close this thread, I ask that you leave the final posts so that others will know it was because of insults, not discrimination against Christians. Thanks.
 

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)
So, @JillGat , where are you now? En route?

This thread has once again demonstrated that whether out there or here in this virtual albergue, the Camino has a way of exposing our sensitivities - it's very good at that. Which is a blessing or a curse, depending on your point of view.

In and of itself, this doesn't make the Camino unique, or in any way magical. As you say so well, Jill, we can use everything in our lives in the service of waking up - but the thing is, few of us can or do. Fortunately all the conditions that come together on the Camino (the many things @Robo describes above) are 'tailor made' for making it a vehicle for transformation.

For some of us it is a sacred way, in the traditional sense.
For some of us it's a sacred way, in a more metaphorical sense.
For some of us, it's a walk.

The miraculous thing is that through the human and heartfelt connections that happen along the way, our many differences don't have to be that big a deal. Once we learn not to take ourselves or those tender places so seriously, we all end up laughing at the universal human predicament, together.
Now that is unique!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2009, Camino Finisterre, 2009, Camino Portuguese, 2009, Via de La Plata, 2011. Pending: VdlP April-May 2014
Interesting discussion. I have walked a few caminos and never really had a "why are you doing this" talk with any of the many interesting and pleasant (usually) fellow walkers I have met. It's my impression, however, that only a very small minority are actually Christian pilgrims. Most, I think, are recreational long-distance walkers. As for me, I like to walk; I enjoy the fleeting companionship of my fellow travellers; the exhilaration of picking up my pack in the early-morning light and beginning a new day; the cold beer and swapping tales at the end of the day. And where else in the world can I walk for 15 - 20 miles and fine a cheap bed to rest my weary bones.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
First Camino francais Sept/Oct (2016)
Second Camino Niort Sept/Oct (2018)
VdlP Sept/Oct (2020)
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.


Hi Jill

Great rationale..........I am a Catholic and I do believe most of what is recorded as it relates to St James. I completed my first Camino Sept/Oct 2016. 28 days from St Jean to Santiago at the age of 71. Did I feel a changed person? No. I set out pure and simple with no expectations, neither was I looking for something life changing. I fully take on board all your comments regarding culture, climate, landscape, people experiences and the true value of the here and now.

I met some wonderful characters from all around the world and I stayed in some very interesting Albergues (municipal) The food was good and my body was kind to me.

I actually set out as a lone traveller from the U.K. with one pre booked overnight layover in Orisson (first night) then it was simply get up and go. I had no booked travel home dates so there was no pressure to hit Santiago on a given date. No one knew of my trip outside the family (no peer pressure) I sent one text 20 days after walking out of the house, just to let the family know everything was fine. The next contact was as I walked back into the house.

Since completing the Camino I have fallen back into my retired routine perfectly happy that I made the effort. In my working life I would make a hundred decisions a day, on the Camino, I made 6 decisions a day tops. And therein lies the beauty and the value of the Camino to me.

Having completed the Camino Frances route in 2016, I plan to complete my 2nd Camino Apr/May 2018 from Irun to Santiago (Camino Del Niorte) The northern route I am told might be a little more demanding but it is also a little more scenic? I will follow the same routine, I will pre book my first nights layover, then I will load my backpack and carry it to the next overnight stay............one step at a time.

Good luck with you upcoming/current Camino Jill

Peter
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
"I believe that, in reality, there is actually nothing exceptional about the camino; nothing spiritual, magical or likely to teach me special "lessons."

I think this was the OP's central point and I've met a number of people who feel this way - at least at the beginning. I'm sure I've felt this way myself. I walk the routes a lot and not every journey is a pilgrimage often it is just a walk. However I've also had what I think are deeply spiritual experiences - when another pilgrim shared, when I cried on the meseta at a painful memory, when a woman took me into her home on a bitterly cold day and gave me hot soup. I've also had one or two experiences of being in a "thin place" where I felt I could almost sense the divine. I suppose all we can do is relate stories about these things. So here's a true story about my friend Matilde, I'm sorry if I've told it before.

Matilde is from Santiago. She has a couple of degrees and speaks perfect English. She was teaching in a school on a temporary contract but due to the recession and cut backs she was made redundant. She sent her CV everywhere and all they ever said was her name was on a waiting list. A year of unemployment passed. Then a second started. She was making a little money out of private lessons but barely surviving. When I suggested she walk the Camino she scoffed. "That's your answer to everything." But the idea flowered and off she went to Saint Jean. I didn't hear much from her but reckoning she would be close to returning home I texted her. She replied "all going well. Nearly in Sarria. Lovely walk but not a life changing experience".
Two days later my phone rang. Matilde's number. She said, "I was walking along apath outside Sarria when the local Director of Education telephoned. I sent them my CV two years ago. They have an urgent vacancy and asked if I can start tomorrow. My parents are on their way with my clothes."
Matilde stayed in Sarria and taught there for 6 months. That job evolved into another permanent post. She eventually finished her Camino and got her Compostela. I've never again heard her claim the "Camino isn't life changing".
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
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Camino Somewhere September 2017
Not sure that everybody agreed with all JillGats sentiments,we were just admitting it was a point of view. I think she was only expressing her own opinion that the' magic of the Camino is an illusion'. We all see things diferently, not necessarily radically. Some have a stong faith some are in between while others are on the cusp, still more have none at all. I think it is pointless becoming upset by what others may think because I know what I think. JillGats comments did not offend me, she stated something from her perspective thats all. She has her views and I have mine and I think she was very respectful as a whole. I think that it is great that people of all faiths and none walk the Camino, thats where the sharing comes in food and ideas. I always encourage dialogue whether I agree with what is been said or not.You cant hurt God.


I really appreciated this post. You said very eloquently what I have been thinking while reading through some posts on this thread:

It's not "I disagree with that point of view".

Rather, it should be "I am listening courteously to another point of view, which is different than mine".

It has always been puzzling to me that others aren't fascinated when someone just honestly expresses an opinion that differs from "the norm".

Anyway, eloquently put.
 

PaulB Hayward

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Finish the other half.......as soon as I think my iffy knee will be able.....I hope :)
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.



You have, with your few paragraphs, put into order, my mixed emotions, of why I find myself, needing to do 'special' things in Life; the Camino, my solitary hiking trips to the Hebrides, the list goes on. I feel like someone just switched on a light ! I'm sure I will learn, and maybe, change things, from a few seconds, spent reading your post. Thank You.
 
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grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Yes
It is not generally possible to draw accurate conclusions on the motivations or beliefs of the huge numbers of pilgrims on the various routes...from this forum.
We simply are a very small percentage of the overall pilgrim population.
It is possible to make your own conclusion of those posting here....but again it will be just your own conclusion.

Of course, this is just my opinion. :)
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Year of past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
Non-religous walkers certainly seem to be the majority.
Non religious indeed but God knows what seed that may have been sown that later bears fruit in their lives. I am always reminded that God works in hidden and diverse manners everywhere and that he constantly invites us in all manners and guises.We are never forced but invited and who knows the Camino may be part of that plan to reconnect.
 

Craig Bernthal

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May to July, 2014
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.

A very interesting thread. It captures a very typical Camino conversation, I think. It starts when someone asks, "Why are you walking the Camino?" and among strangers who have gotten friendly, it's a very natural question to ask. The safest answer, and one I certainly have no trouble with, is that you are a "through-walker," that you love being on one of the great recreational trails of the world, and that's certainly an answer I respect. I'm in California, and I certainly love the John Muir Trail, the many trails out of and around Yosemite, King's Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks, and I don't hike them with any particular religious motive. So recreational through-walkers celebrate! This is the safest answer, and its in the majority, in my experience.

The next most popular answer can get very personal, and that is that you are out on the Camino trying to sort out your life. Your pending divorce (maybe), what's left of your life after your divorce, decision to leave your job, etc. People are no doubt having a great time walking the Camino but they are also trying to see through some difficult transition in their lives to what's next. People can be remarkably open about this, especially if you've been walking with them for awhile, and hitting the same albergues.

The next is what I think of as the vaguely religious and gnostic answer, and if you want examples of this, just read John Brierly's guidebook, Paolo Coelho, etc.

The least common, answer, I think, is the person who admits to being Christian, possibly Catholic, and admits to being a pilgrim. I say "admits" because I find these people to be the most reluctant to say much, and there is a bit of social risk involved. I walked for an afternoon with a young engineer from the Czech Republic who was clearly feeling me out for a long while before he talked about why he wanted to do the Camino, and then said his goal had been to attend mass every day, but--and he was clearly disappointed in himself--some days he hadn't found a church or he'd just been too tired. I met an entire Catholic family who was walking the Camino with a sister (this included nephews, nieces, the whole show) who had leukemia. She was walking as much as she could and taking taxis when she couldn't. They were one of the most joyful groups I encountered.

Your thread interests me because I've been wondering a lot how I will answer that question when I do my third, and probably final Camino next year. I have fumbled this question many times in the past. I will certainly admit to being a Roman Catholic pilgrim, as I always have. A common definition of a pilgrimage would be a journey to a site at which a theophany has taken place. God has somehow made himself known there in a way which marks that place as special: Lourdes and Fatima, for instance. I wouldn't call the Camino "magical," and I also rather doubt that the bones of St. James are in Santiago. It is possible have an experience of God's immanence anywhere, so there isn't any necessity to leave home. But I also think that history matters--that the thousands of people who have trod the Camino throughout history have made it special, that being on the Camino, with the intention of making it a pilgrimage is a way of cooperating with God's grace. By and large, having simplified their lives for just a while, people on the Camino seem to be happy, grateful, generous. Maybe there is a kind of magic in play.
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Year of past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
A very interesting thread. It captures a very typical Camino conversation, I think. It starts when someone asks, "Why are you walking the Camino?" and among strangers who have gotten friendly, it's a very natural question to ask. The safest answer, and one I certainly have no trouble with, is that you are a "through-walker," that you love being on one of the great recreational trails of the world, and that's certainly an answer I respect. I'm in California, and I certainly love the John Muir Trail, the many trails out of and around Yosemite, King's Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks, and I don't hike them with any particular religious motive. So recreational through-walkers celebrate! This is the safest answer, and its in the majority, in my experience.

The next most popular answer can get very personal, and that is that you are out on the Camino trying to sort out your life. Your pending divorce (maybe), what's left of your life after your divorce, decision to leave your job, etc. People are no doubt having a great time walking the Camino but they are also trying to see through some difficult transition in their lives to what's next. People can be remarkably open about this, especially if you've been walking with them for awhile, and hitting the same albergues.

The next is what I think of as the vaguely religious and gnostic answer, and if you want examples of this, just read John Brierly's guidebook, Paolo Coelho, etc.

The least common, answer, I think, is the person who admits to being Christian, possibly Catholic, and admits to being a pilgrim. I say "admits" because I find these people to be the most reluctant to say much, and there is a bit of social risk involved. I walked for an afternoon with a young engineer from the Czech Republic who was clearly feeling me out for a long while before he talked about why he wanted to do the Camino, and then said his goal had been to attend mass every day, but--and he was clearly disappointed in himself--some days he hadn't found a church or he'd just been too tired. I met an entire Catholic family who was walking the Camino with a sister (this included nephews, nieces, the whole show) who had leukemia. She was walking as much as she could and taking taxis when she couldn't. They were one of the most joyful groups I encountered.

Your thread interests me because I've been wondering a lot how I will answer that question when I do my third, and probably final Camino next year. I have fumbled this question many times in the past. I will certainly admit to being a Roman Catholic pilgrim, as I always have. A common definition of a pilgrimage would be a journey to a site at which a theophany has taken place. God has somehow made himself known there in a way which marks that place as special: Lourdes and Fatima, for instance. I wouldn't call the Camino "magical," and I also rather doubt that the bones of St. James are in Santiago. It is possible have an experience of God's immanence anywhere, so there isn't any necessity to leave home. But I also think that history matters--that the thousands of people who have trod the Camino throughout history have made it special, that being on the Camino, with the intention of making it a pilgrimage is a way of cooperating with God's grace. By and large, having simplified their lives for just a while, people on the Camino seem to be happy, grateful, generous. Maybe there is a kind of magic in play.
Well said Sir
 

DavidJ1215

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May 2017, Camino Finisterre 2017, Via Francigena Canterbury to Rome 2018.
I am always reminded that God works in hidden and diverse manners everywhere and that he constantly invites us in all manners and guises.We are never forced but invited and who knows the Camino may be part of that plan to reconnect.

A very interesting thread. It captures a very typical Camino conversation, I think. It starts when someone asks, "Why are you walking the Camino?" and among strangers who have gotten friendly, it's a very natural question to ask.


I walked on and off with a pilgrim friend I first met in St.Jean and we talked about why we were walking to Santiago and I explained how I had found God late in life. The friend had no religious faith and was not sure why the camino called. Anyway we did not talk about it again until later in the journey.

When not walking together we kept in touch, and what follows is a part of chat we had one evening via Whatsap:

“Pilgrim friend: Hi David good to hear your travels go well. I am nursing a cold hence walk only a few km a day.
Had the most epic heart connection today with the chap from the coffee shop in the ruins of St Antonio. I think he's an Angel. Honestly. He is. Anyway, still not getting the whole jesus and bridge thing... no matter how many priests I am having vino tinto with. Tried church last night... painful as always except the blessing for the peregrinos at the end. We all got a necklace with a cross.


David: Sorry about your cold - take care of yourself - I know how you feel about God - you just have to open up and let him into your life - the pilgrims blessing was wonderful for you.

Pilgrim friend: I know God was talking to me this morning…………………………….

David: As I said before just open yourself up to God and he will find you - as he did this morning - perhaps that is why you are really here on this pilgrimage

Pilgrim friend: Thats good now - Dont freak me out.”


The final message made me smile and although we walked together a few times after that and kept in touch we did not discuss it again.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Maybe there is a kind of magic in play.
Very nice post! I'm not sure that I agree that that the "safest" answer would use the words "through-walker" and "recreational trail" :rolleyes:, but that is just a matter of word choice. I understand your point and think you describe different motivations very well.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
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
Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel very privileged to read your honest and heartfelt words. Buen Camino
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
But I also think that history matters--that the thousands of people who have trod the Camino throughout history have made it special, that being on the Camino, with the intention of making it a pilgrimage is a way of cooperating with God's grace. By and large, having simplified their lives for just a while, people on the Camino seem to be happy, grateful, generous. Maybe there is a kind of magic in play.

Now THAT I can relate to! Thank you :)
 

FamPed

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
There are many different Pilgrim Routes and Caminos in life.
@JillGat I love your thread, thanks for starting it! Thanks for sharing your confession and thoughts, aswell as giving us something to discuss. I hope and wish that you will have a Buen Camino!
I love that we all can have a say and all can listen, think things over, take some to our hearts or dismiss it, in a civilized manner and a respectfull tone. There are so many of you that I really enjoyed to follow in this thread. Thank you all!
And I confess, I am a pilgrim.
 
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Nanc

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
Initially I had to re-read the OP's comments, to see why she felt it needed to be said. And I may have landed on the wrong take here (correct me if so)

"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 can see the logic in OP's comments- We don't HAVE to commence the Way to achieve some spiritual experience. That can be gotten in any area of our lives if we leave ourselves open to it. Because all we have to do is be present; it could happen at our kitchen table.

For a devote Christian it MIGHT take the religious icons and history found along the Camino to reach that place

For many of us, stripping the labels and distractions of family and work is easier if we have stepped away from those roles with our meager belongings. Certainly for me, it opened that path to some deeper introspection

But I suspect the key word in the phrase "unique power is an illusion", is unique. For truly, the Camino has the potential (as OP says) to be a power. I suspect she is saying this is not the only way to access spiritual lessons. So the illusion is thinking it is unique, not in it being a power. In the same way I needed to leave home to reach my goals, for some, the Camino may be their unique power.

And I am grateful that so many of us approaching the Camino, walking for different reasons (or for NO reason), can still share a cafe con leche in respectful spirit
nanc
 

charlotte russell

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
september 2017
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.
I want to thank you for your post!
I leave in a couple of days to travel half way around the world to walk the Camino, I also don't see myself as a Christian and have been wondering why am I doing this when I could be having a holiday! And your post reminded me why I thought about going in the first place and now I can go in peace and trust that the quiet time in reflection in nature and communion with like minded souls will be perfect
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Year of past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
I want to thank you for your post!
I leave in a couple of days to travel half way around the world to walk the Camino, I also don't see myself as a Christian and have been wondering why am I doing this when I could be having a holiday! And your post reminded me why I thought about going in the first place and now I can go in peace and trust that the quiet time in reflection in nature and communion with like minded souls will be perfect
I think what began as an exclusive Catholic pilgrimage in the 11th and 12 th centuries the Camino has evolved especially since the paths were opened up again in the early 80's. The fundamentals of the Camino is still Catholic in ethos and nature and that can never be taken away. I think the seismic shift that has happened is that it has now become all inclusive whether you are Catholic from another denomination or are an agnostic or an atheist. I believe,whether we care to admit it or not, we all have a striving within us for something outside ourselves, something that gives our lives some sort of meaning and purpose and for me thats my Catholic faith.
There may be a fear among some Catholics that perhaps mixing with people of other faiths or none will lead to a diminution or dilution of what we truly believe. That should never be the case the camino is a chance to meet and embrace people who have different ideas and faiths to our own we should not be threatened by it. We have a shared commonality but we respectfully agree to disagree on other elements. To those of no faith we share a common dignity,respect and inate decency and humanity. The camino is not a big recipie book that bungs all the world religions into a big melting pot and then we come out with a warm fuzzy new one. I believe what I believe and that wont change but I am always open to the new. Life is a constant learning experience and what we learn from others should go on to the day we die.
Whether the bones of St James are stored in the reliquary at the Cathederal at SDC is irrelevant to me that may be the focus but for me it's not the focal point. As a Catholic when I visit the many churches and chapels along the way there abides in every tabernacle I believe the Divine presence and what can be greater than that as a believing Catholic. I can visit churches at home certainly, but what the camino gives me is time out. It speaks to me physically, metaphysically and spiritually. I love the people I meet simply because they are nice people, not for what they have or who they are or what they believe period.
There are two things that Jesus emphasised and that was love of God and love of neighbour no matter who he or she is. It is as simple as that and as hard as that. As I said in a previous post God works in hidden and diverse manners in men and women everywhere he meets us where we are in our lives all we have to do is reach out. Life is a great mystery I certainly don't have all the answers but I constantly ask God to help me muddle through it as best I can and if I can do some good for someone let me do it now.
Well that's my two pence worth many may not agree but thats what I believe and what others think won't affect my faith in any way:p Lifes too short
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012
England C2C 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Le Puy ... someday.
Fall 2012, somewhere past Sarria

She was Irish, with a rolling brogue and a beautiful smile. Her lined face was scorched brown from the sun and her trail worn clothes were clean but frayed a bit at the edges. Dust coated her brown leather hiking boots and her hands were as dry and rough as a construction worker's.

The Irish lady had been walking on pilgrimage for a couple of months. We chatted as hikers do and she talked about her Catholic faith with the ease that others discuss the weather or what the neighbors are bringing to the cookout this weekend. When the inevitable question came up as to why she chose to walk The Way, she beamed brightly, eager at the thought of soon reaching Santiago de Compestela's cathedral, to stand near the bones of Saint James, the apostle of Jesus. Just the thought of being close to the remains of someone who once walked next to her Lord filled her with an unbridled joy.

She couldn't care less if she was a member of the majority, minority or somewhere in the middle. There was no judgement, no forced theology, no condescending remarks to those with different points of view. There was just one simple, personal goal and that was to celebrate her belief in God, unashamed and unapologetic.

I found myself a little jealous as we hugged goodbye later in the day. She asked me to pray for her but I was the one who needed her prayers. I needed her kindness, grace, compassion and simple faith that provided so so much joy. My path at that time was far from sacred, full of steep cliff falls and slow plods back uphill. I wanted what the Irish lady had.

And I really wished I could copy her beautiful brogue.
 
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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).
Pilgrim? On my first camino at 39, I did not give the word or its meaning any thought. I knew I wanted a holiday, badly needed an adventure for pennies on-the-dollar: Spain was still on the peseta. Off I went Roncesvalles to Santiago.

I became a pilgrim just beyond Larrasoana and Pamplona. The metamorphosis from walker to peregrina was due to a camino Angel who rescued my mom via car while I walked on to Pamplona. It was the miracle a day aspect of the way which brought about my conversion. Already a Christian, I simply could not fathom the miracles I experienced and witnessed occurring to others: kindnesses, joys, soulful confessions both heard and given, and future marriages all whilst ambling down this millennial highway.

I find myself wishing to pilgrimage over and over to see God's beautiful hand not just on me but others along "The Way".
 

Brendan@ProjectCamino

Share your Camino story with me!
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria to Santiago 16
Santiago to Finesterre 17
SJPP to Sarria 17
Ourense to Santiago 18
Great post, really interesting replies as well.

Buen Camino everyone!!
 
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G_the_D

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 27 (2017)
October 1 (2017)
I must say I LOVE this thread! Kudos all!

Back to the OP's assertion that she is not a pilgrim. To me the label is simply a label. I refer to myself as a pilgrim. The nature of the Camino is to move forward toward a goal. What was very important to me while on the Camino was that everyone I was walking with was moving towards the same goal. Their reasons for doing so were sometimes disclosed, sometimes not.

I found a fellowship of like minded people on Camino. I have said in other posts that setting foot on Camino is joining a community. To me that was the best gift that Camino gave me. Not everyone that I met along the way was looking for something, and some were. The people who open their hearts and trust another with their story are inspirational. The camaraderie along the way is astounding.

Having said that, I do feel that sometimes I didn't walk my own Camino all the way. (whethter this be for good or ill...I don't know) I did sometimes feel that the need to keep a group together put up some roadblocks to what I perceived my journey would be like. Such is the nature of life.

We walk for our own reasons, at our own pace and often in our own thoughts. What you call yourself is of little importance to me. What is important is that we share an experience that most of humanity will never appreciate.

Buen Camino and keep moving forward,
Gord
 

Karlgrino

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015 Portuguese coastal
2017 Frances
2018 Norte
2019 Portuguese inland
2020 La Plata
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.[/QUOTE
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.


all well said cudos!
as far as everything being an" illusion" made me think
I am a walker, love to walk, but only on the Camino I feel at times I have wings, particularly at long uphill stretches
even after a long day I walk sometimes with an ease that catches me by surprise
So I think the Camino is not just like any other long walk, if only for no other walk is the Camino!
To me the thousand people, pilgrims or not, which walked the same way before me, left their spiritual imprint on the path,and this does not exist anywhere else;
or is that an illusion?

Jill,

You started a wonderful thread. Thank you. Please tell us how this camino goes pilgrim or no.
Buen camino.:)

all well said cudos!
as far as everything being an" illusion" made me think
I am a walker, love to walk, but only on the Camino I feel at times I have wings, particularly at long uphill stretches
even after a long day I walk sometimes with an ease that catches me by surprise
So I think the Camino is not just like any other long walk, if only for no other walk is the Camino!
To me the thousand people, pilgrims or not, which walked the same way before me, left their spiritual imprint on the path,and this does not exist anywhere else;
or is that an illusion?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Tim Soekkha

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
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.

...spot on, for me :)..
 

FrankW

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013, 2016 and 2018 - French camino
2022 September/October - French camino
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.
Hello Jillgat
Thank you for what you wrote. It resonates with my experience. I am a person of faith and yes I think spiritual experiences happen anywhere and often in the most unlikely places. I also set aside twice each year to walk with a "soul companion" friend and we dissappear into the Australian bush for days on end to get away and have a spititual retreat together.
The camino give me three things:
1. The opportunity to break with my routines,
2. The time to settle into being present that is difficult if not impossible to achieve in my daily life, and
3. The chance to meet and converse with people not like me but who share a desire for deeper connection with ....????.
These people enrich my life and open a space for me to have a greater sense of the Divine in my life. I have walked three Caminos (all CF) and each has been significant and the outcomes continue to influence how I live today and the direction my life has taken.
I would enjoy bumping into you on the camino one day. I guess we will see.

Stay safe in these times

Frank
 

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)
Hi Frank! Thanks for your thoughts and for bringing me back to read what I - and others - wrote in this thread three years ago. Re-reading, I agree with most of what I said :) but not all. I would say now that there is absolutely a spiritual element to the Camino that is unique, at least in my experience so far (I'm sure there are other pilgrimage routes that have a similar aura). The human sweat, tears and spirit that went into building those ornate cathedrals and churches in the days before technology. Sometimes they are in remote spots on the Camino and you have to wonder how they ended up there. The hints of previous cultures, equally as devout, that traveled that path. Meeting people from all over the world who came there - to THAT walk - for personal reasons, often spiritual reasons, resonated with me as I walked along with them. I can't pretend I can easily recreate that feeling at home. I think about the camino every day. I wish I could always be the introspective person I am while walking the camino, while I'm here and not just when I'm there. Some of what is special about the camino we bring with us when we come. Other parts are just there and we can only hope to bring some of it home. For me, at least, it tends to be fleeting, so I need to go back.
 
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CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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(May 2016)
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(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Hi Frank! Thanks for your thoughts and for bringing me back to read what I - and others - wrote in this thread three years ago. Re-reading, I agree with most of what I said :) but not all. I would say now that there is absolutely a spiritual element to the Camino that is unique, at least in my experience so far (I'm sure there are other pilgrimage routes that have a similar aura). The human sweat, tears and spirit that went into building those ornate cathedrals and churches in the days before technology. Sometimes they are in remote spots on the Camino and you have to wonder how they ended up there. The hints of previous cultures, equally as devout, that traveled that path. Meeting people from all over the world who came there - to THAT walk - for personal reasons, often spiritual reasons, resonated with me as I walked along with them. I can't pretend I can easily recreate that feeling at home. I think about the camino every day. I wish I could always be the introspective person I am while walking the camino, while I'm here and not just when I'm there. Some of what is special about the camino we bring with us there when we come. Other parts are just there and we can only hope to bring some of it home.

Ah. Nice to see the Camino got under your skin eventually.
It is indeed a very special place.
At home.......I don't walk at all.
There is no point in it. (for me)
 

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