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Pilgrimage as Way of Life

J.Patrick

Veteran member from Camarillo, California
Time of past OR future Camino
Porto 2015.
Northern 2017
Francigena Oct 2023
I was amused, shortly after my last Camino, when I saw a yellow arrow on a street, not in Spain, and felt a subconscious compulsion to turn and follow it.

There is a part of me that always wants to be following those arrows and scallops, to live on pilgrimage. Life, though, intrudes. I'm a priest and a pastor of a parish with responsibilities to shoulder and people to care for each day.

I want to stay in that pilgrimage spirit, though, where I felt free to make decisions according to whims, where going the wrong way was sometimes its own odd blessing, where strangers quickly became companions. In truth, at 62 years of age, I would love to have no more responsibilities than where to rest or eat or stop. This latter desire is not in my immediate future, but there are other more important aspects of pilgrimage that I want to maintain:
  • to live in the present moment;
  • to hear peoples' stories and simply, humbly share my own;
  • to find deep satisfaction in simple foods cooked well in interesting ways -- it's not of great importance, but I really appreciated it;
  • to be aware of my body in more conscious ways;
  • to notice the sunrises and sunsets, and the shortening and lengthening of days, and the readying of the fields for harvest;
  • to see each day as an adventure with wonderful possibilities;
  • to expect kindness from strangers;
  • to have space.....................;
  • to remain in the holy presence of Jesus that slowly crept up on me as I worked through tiredness and feet issues and came to peace with my life's issues;
I have both succeeded and failed in these hopes.

Thinking about that yellow arrow that pulled at me, when I wasn't on Camino, I purchased a bronze scallop shell from Ivar's shop, and when I moved into a brand new home, had it placed in the newly poured concrete at the gate that leads to my parish. I've been trying to let that small focus draw me into a daily walk on pilgrimage, to stay in the spirit of the Way.

Perhaps you've done something similar? What has worked for you?


Gate plus shell.jpg ....... Shell and Parish.jpg
 
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Interesting Padre. In little ways, I follow the same behaviors and desires. I wear the cross of St. James around my neck. It replaces the original one I removed as I placed it into the coffin of my Father a few years ago. I wear a tattoo of Jesus upon my arm - complete with a magenta robe.
I look for joy in life and in doing so, I hope joy surrounds those I come across.
I start from SJPP once again at the end of March and very much look forward to following the yellow arrows!
 
Perhaps you've done something similar? What has worked for you?
When I found that the camino did all that you say I wanted to share it with people who couldn’t go alone.

They want to walk the camino, but they don’t have the self-confidence to travel several thousand kilometres away from home on their own, especially widows and divorcees who are living alone.

So occasionally I put a trip together for a small group.

I book all the accommodation in private albergues, and they pay when they stay.

I make nothing out of it financially, but I get huge satisfaction from having given them the opportunity to walk the camino.

I have also both succeeded and failed in this!

But it works for me, as I can share it.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
What makes the pilgrimage so different from a long-distance hike?
The vulnerability -- stepping out of your comfort zone.
Talking to strangers, and slowly making friends of them. Trying out a few words of a new language.
Listening and tasting and smelling and really living the world around you.
Turning off the noise and just letting yourself be quiet. Letting your mind wander, stimulation-free.
Saying "yes" to things you've always said "no" to, for whatever reason. Or vice-versa.
Remembering the words to songs you haven't sung since you were a teenager.
Finally thinking through that horrible thing that happened years ago, bringing it into the light and then letting it go, for good.
Letting the boring person just talk. Picking up the litter and putting it in the trash bin. Giving away the extra shirt you really don't need, to someone who needs it.
Giving money to a person who might be a bum, might be a scammer, but realizing it doesn't matter.
Giving away the hat you kinda do need to someone who needs it more.
Realizing you have just prayed, when you didn't think you knew how.
Telling an almost-stranger how prettily they sing, how deliciously they cook, how nice it was for them to make that phone call for you. Saying "thanks" and really meaning it.

People come back over and over to the Way, to relive and rediscover this wonderful freedom.
But all these are things you can do every day when you're at home. Why does this only happen on the Camino? Maybe it's not the Way. Maybe it's Us.
 
It’s a way of being. I find that it works at home just as well as it does on the Camino. The good thing about the Camino is that you meet lots of others who know and understand that it is a way of being.
The camino is a distillation of the bigger Camino of life, with all its highs and lows, rights and wrongs, wins and losses.
I hope you get to do another Camino Padre, soon.
 
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Perhaps you've done something similar? What has worked for you?
Thank you for sharing your story!
I do participate with your aspects of pilgrimage a lot and try to be aware of that every day and moment.

I moved in 2016 to Switzerland after a intermezzo with the CF. On this Camino I bought a necklace in a tiny "Tienda" in Las Herrerías, as a replacement for a long worn necklace (Tau cross) I gave to a dear pilgrim in 2015.

In February 2018 I did quit my job, booked a flight to Santiago and met Sophie.
After living with her together for 5 month in SDC, she followed me back to Switzerland were I got my old job back.
In January 2019 she told me, that I will become a father.

I knew at the time (2016), as I found this stone in the Rhine river close to Basel, matching my new Necklace on one side and on the other my first/old Necklace, that something special will happen or that there is a reason why I am at this place!

Me, the through and through pilgrim, every year on the way, always on the loose, a father!?! I never thought about it!
Destiny I said, my purpose in life!

It was also clear for me, that there will be no Camino at least the next 3 year's.
Because my father was a workaholic and always away from home and never really present.
So I elected to stay at home for the first 3 years, to be with my son Jacob and walk next to him during his foundational period of life.

I am satisfied, fulfilled with the decision and my life, the way it is. Nevertheless I always think about the Camino. It is rather a desire than a need to go back.
Sophie bought this wooden sign with the yellow arrow as a birthday present for me.
To see this sign every day gives me confidence and joy!

Our son will be 3 in September and if the universe decides, I will be back on the Road in October.....:)

Dennis
 

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What makes the pilgrimage so different from a long-distance hike?


People come back over and over to the Way, to relive and rediscover this wonderful freedom.
But all these are things you can do every day when you're at home. Why does this only happen on the Camino? Maybe it's not the Way. Maybe it's Us.
What may make it different is your motivation, your intention. These may harmonise you with the way.

It doesn't only happen on the Camino. There are lots of places, journeys with similar power. Even long distance hikes.

It may be the way, if your intention and focus are in harmony with the way, but otherwise it is probably mostly us.
 
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@Rebekah Scott beat me to it, all of the things you quote about being special to the Camino you can do at home. We don't need to display shells and travel thousands of miles around the world to display our humanity. The need for compassion, understanding and empathy are closer to home.

Perhaps a its not for nothing that the traditional view of pilgramage starts and ends with our own doorstep. And so maybe the shell on your pathway will invite people over your own threshold, and not just for a trip to northern Spain.
 
What makes the pilgrimage so different from a long-distance hike?
...

People come back over and over to the Way, to relive and rediscover this wonderful freedom.
But all these are things you can do every day when you're at home. Why does this only happen on the Camino? Maybe it's not the Way. Maybe it's Us.
As I was on my first Camino in 2018 - from Somport to Santiago and to Finisterre - I loved being a pilgrim. Before I left Santiago I already missed being a pilgrim... and I thought... what if I just walk on? Like the man, who never stopped walking...
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/03/hiking-walking-nimblewill-nomad-mj-eberhart?
... just on the camino? But I have got a wife and two daughters... and I was pretty sure that "only walking" or "only being a pilgrim" is not the right way of life for me... as I was pretty sure that I want to be a pilgrim again as soon as it is possible with my family and my work.

> Maybe it's not the Way. Maybe it's Us.

It's us, yes. I am different at home than on the camino.
But it is not only us. It is the world at home as well. I think being a pilgrim on the camino makes it very easy to live as someone who is on the camino in "God's dream for how people should be when they're with each other".
And at home it is so much more difficult...
...money, job, responsibility, news, stress, not-enough-time-for-..., ... all these "difficulties" are (almost) not important or do not exist as a pilgrim...
But I want to try it at home as well. Today...

And I am so glad that I probably can walk on the Camino again this year (and not "only" a long distance walk)... probably with my older daughter... and that it will be so much easier then.
 
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I was amused, shortly after my last Camino, when I saw a yellow arrow on a street, not in Spain, and felt a subconscious compulsion to turn and follow it.

There is a part of me that always wants to be following those arrows and scallops, to live on pilgrimage. Life, though, intrudes. I'm a priest and a pastor of a parish with responsibilities to shoulder and people to care for each day.

I want to stay in that pilgrimage spirit, though, where I felt free to make decisions according to whims, where going the wrong way was sometimes its own odd blessing, where strangers quickly became companions. In truth, at 62 years of age, I would love to have no more responsibilities than where to rest or eat or stop. This latter desire is not in my immediate future, but there are other more important aspects of pilgrimage that I want to maintain:
  • to live in the present moment;
  • to hear peoples' stories and simply, humbly share my own;
  • to find deep satisfaction in simple foods cooked well in interesting ways -- it's not of great importance, but I really appreciated it;
  • to be aware of my body in more conscious ways;
  • to notice the sunrises and sunsets, and the shortening and lengthening of days, and the readying of the fields for harvest;
  • to see each day as an adventure with wonderful possibilities;
  • to expect kindness from strangers;
  • to have space.....................;
  • to remain in the holy presence of Jesus that slowly crept up on me as I worked through tiredness and feet issues and came to peace with my life's issues;
I have both succeeded and failed in these hopes.

Thinking about that yellow arrow that pulled at me, when I wasn't on Camino, I purchased a bronze scallop shell from Ivar's shop, and when I moved into a brand new home, had it placed in the newly poured concrete at the gate that leads to my parish. I've been trying to let that small focus draw me into a daily walk on pilgrimage, to stay in the spirit of the Way.

Perhaps you've done something similar? What has worked for you?


View attachment 119309 ....... View attachment 119310
Thank you so beautifully written. You are helping me recapture the spirit.
 
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Your words and moment in life remind me of Fr. Kevin Codd. I have read his books To the Field of Stars and Beyond Even the Stars. Are you familiar with these? The second book reminds me of you.
 
A slightly different thought, as hospitaleros we met various people living on the Camino. One was a retired German woman whose income was 300 euros per month. She stayed in mostly donativos and had camping gear in case she had to sleep out. Occasionally she would take work as a hospitalera or a helper of some kind, especially in winter. She spent her life walking mostly to and from Santiago on routes where she could find shelter.

Another young couple we met on another route had lost their jobs and housing. By walking and staying in donativo shelters with some meals, they were able to live on their meager savings until the economy improved.

There were others as well. Those of us who can afford a home can see and feel the romantic and spiritual pull of the Camino. For others it may be a tenuous lifeline during difficult financial times.
 
Your words and moment in life remind me of Fr. Kevin Codd. I have read his books To the Field of Stars and Beyond Even the Stars. Are you familiar with these? The second book reminds me of you.
I’ve read the To the Field of Stars. I’ll have to find the second. Thank you.
 
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I was amused, shortly after my last Camino, when I saw a yellow arrow on a street, not in Spain, and felt a subconscious compulsion to turn and follow it.

There is a part of me that always wants to be following those arrows and scallops, to live on pilgrimage. Life, though, intrudes. I'm a priest and a pastor of a parish with responsibilities to shoulder and people to care for each day.

I want to stay in that pilgrimage spirit, though, where I felt free to make decisions according to whims, where going the wrong way was sometimes its own odd blessing, where strangers quickly became companions. In truth, at 62 years of age, I would love to have no more responsibilities than where to rest or eat or stop. This latter desire is not in my immediate future, but there are other more important aspects of pilgrimage that I want to maintain:
  • to live in the present moment;
  • to hear peoples' stories and simply, humbly share my own;
  • to find deep satisfaction in simple foods cooked well in interesting ways -- it's not of great importance, but I really appreciated it;
  • to be aware of my body in more conscious ways;
  • to notice the sunrises and sunsets, and the shortening and lengthening of days, and the readying of the fields for harvest;
  • to see each day as an adventure with wonderful possibilities;
  • to expect kindness from strangers;
  • to have space.....................;
  • to remain in the holy presence of Jesus that slowly crept up on me as I worked through tiredness and feet issues and came to peace with my life's issues;
I have both succeeded and failed in these hopes.

Thinking about that yellow arrow that pulled at me, when I wasn't on Camino, I purchased a bronze scallop shell from Ivar's shop, and when I moved into a brand new home, had it placed in the newly poured concrete at the gate that leads to my parish. I've been trying to let that small focus draw me into a daily walk on pilgrimage, to stay in the spirit of the Way.

Perhaps you've done something similar? What has worked for you?


View attachment 119309 ....... View attachment 119310
You have brought tears to my eyes! The idea of sharing your shell with your parish moved me greatly.
Your post had me saying "Ditto!" repeatedly, including finding a yellow arrow painted on a street waiting to be dug up.
 
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J. Patrick, I am extremely blessed to experience most of your list on a daily basis.
  • to live in the present moment;
  • to hear peoples' stories and simply, humbly share my own;
  • to find deep satisfaction in simple foods cooked well in interesting ways -- it's not of great importance, but I really appreciated it;
  • to be aware of my body in more conscious ways;
  • to notice the sunrises and sunsets, and the shortening and lengthening of days, and the readying of the fields for harvest;
  • to see each day as an adventure with wonderful possibilities;
  • to expect kindness from strangers;
  • to have space.....................;
  • to remain in the holy presence of Jesus that slowly crept up on me as I worked through tiredness and feet issues and came to peace with my life's issues;
I believe that the miracle of the Camino doesn’t come from the Camino, but rather from the intention of the pilgrim. They arrive thinking that they will be walking a sacred path that will magically change them and they therefore create within themselves a willingness to let change happen.

It helps that walking the Camino reduces daily life to the basics of walking from one place to the next, finding food and a place to sleep. The pilgrim finds that they can carry what they need on their back (or at least ship it ahead). There is a lot of freedom on the Camino that we give up in our daily lives.

Shortly after my 7th Camino I realized that I was happiest when I wasn’t bound to one place, encumbered by the usual possessions of life. So I put my house on the market, sold most of the stuff and hit the road.

I now live out of a back pack most of the time, do my laundry in hotel room sinks and wander where the spirit leads me.

What I miss most about the Camino is the camaraderie of other pilgrims, who are sharing a similar path. But I do find it easier now to strike up conversations with strangers when I find a common interest.
 
Succeeded and failed, Father?

Failures on that first Camino, physical, emotional and spiritual. Face to face with that person walking next to me, myself. A Pilgrimage to take a list of insurmountable personal needs and say over to you Lord! This is just my journey of course..

Success since as each item of the list shrunk in size. Have since returned on Camino with my family, they wanted to go, I think as they had seen my transformation. So that 2nd Camino was quite special and necessary.
Going back again in April with my son, this time to give a whole lot of thanks! Wanting the healing peace and other wonderful experiences you describe so beautifully in your list. The Camino is with us everyday! God bless you Father and may your responsibilities ease that you may again do the journey you desire to SDC.
 
This thread reminds me that I came to walking pilgrimage from many years of long distance walking: in the mountains of Alberta, on the roads and trails of East Africa, and some shorter walks in New Zealand. What I had in each of these places was the beauty of the land and the kindness and friendliness of the people whom I met. I recall one encounter with a couple in Jasper National Park. Both they and I had run out of some food items on the long trails walked. We shared some food and our awareness that for each, the other was the only immediate source of the necessities of life. I have been privileged to share in a similar way with others when on camino. It is a wonderful priviledge to be able to give and receive. And then there is the gift of the calling to pilgrimage, a chance to look beyond, a special invitation to listen to deeper things. I am trying to listen, but I don't seem to be hearing a calling right now, unless this sense of emptiness craving to be filled could be seen as such.
 
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Perhaps you've done something similar? What has worked for you?

J. Patrick asks the above at the end of his resonating post.

After completing many caminos I have implemented things that I have learned which improves and enriches my everyday living. Life is more meaningful. I have always had a great appreciation of the wonders of the outdoors but any morning hearing birds sing, watching the sky, feeling the freshness of a new day reminds me of the freedom of trundling along a camino abroad. I now spend time on whatever I can to improve my wellbeing whether it's spiritual, health and fitness and my own self awareness.
For anyone seeking further clarity and fulfillment, help in decision making and accomplishing goals I thoroughly recommend life coaching.
 
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Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
In this frightfully complex world it is perhaps natural to be drawn to the simplicity of just walking each day through beautiful landscapes with people who mean no harm to anyone.

It doesn’t sound like much does it, but when you long for it it’s everything.
 
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@snakewomangirl
You went on a long walk. You call it a pilgrimage. A relationship now looks different to you. You cannot find a way to get back to "normal" life. You are not "religious" but are looking for a ritual to help you adjust. Maybe there is no normal life, only the time before your first long pilgrimage and the time after. If you want to be open to where your pilgrimage has taken you, here's the bad news. It is still taking you. Where is for you to find out. As for how, there are many ways. You can make yourself a ritual. You seem to want a homecoming ritual. Do you have a sense of the boundary of your home neighbourhood? Can you try walking it, reminding yourself at any place that is important to you (a park, where you buy your food, a school that you pass, maybe?) that you are home now. This is where you chose to live, and you are back. I do not know whether you will be able to fit yourself back in to your previous life. Maybe you have gone beyond, as have many of us pilgrims. If you feel that you are one us now, you might want to look for a pilgrim group with whom to share your feelings about your experiences (and your call to a future pilgrimage?). However you go, Blessings on your Way.
 
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