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So what’s special about the Camino?

2020 Camino Guides

DMG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés May-June 2016
I remain intrigued by my Camino experience. What made it so special? Why was it so profoundly rewarding? I have a reasonable awareness of how I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the lead up to, during and following the walk, but less clear is an understanding of the ways in which the Camino context itself was conducive to what I can only describe as a flourishing of the self. I’ve had some thoughts, including:
  • The term ‘Camino’ connoted a spiritual journey (not necessarily religious), which influenced how I conceived of it, what I expected from it and how I engaged with it. I couldn't fail to be affected by the aura that surrounded it.
  • To do it, I had to step away from my normal day-to-day life and out of my comfort zone, which liberated me from the familiar and helped open me to new possibilities.
  • It was a significant physical undertaking that required resolve and resilience to complete.
  • The sense of camaraderie with other pilgrims and of sharing in a common endeavour was uplifting, and the coming to know and forming (hopefully lasting) friendships with like-minded souls was deeply satisfying.
That's just a few thoughts. So what do others think? What were the distinctive features / attributes of the Camino that made it a unique experience for you?
 
M

Mike Trebert

Guest
I remain intrigued by my Camino experience. What made it so special? Why was it so profoundly rewarding? I have a reasonable awareness of how I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the lead up to, during and following the walk, but less clear is an understanding of the ways in which the Camino context itself was conducive to what I can only describe as a flourishing of the self. I’ve had some thoughts, including:
  • The term ‘Camino’ connoted a spiritual journey (not necessarily religious), which influenced how I conceived of it, what I expected from it and how I engaged with it. I couldn't fail to be affected by the aura that surrounded it.
  • To do it, I had to step away from my normal day-to-day life and out of my comfort zone, which liberated me from the familiar and helped open me to new possibilities.
  • It was a significant physical undertaking that required resolve and resilience to complete.
  • The sense of camaraderie with other pilgrims and of sharing in a common endeavour was uplifting, and the coming to know and forming (hopefully lasting) friendships with like-minded souls was deeply satisfying.
That's just a few thoughts. So what do others think? What were the distinctive features / attributes of the Camino that made it a unique experience for you?
Hi DMG,

I think you've answered your own question well. I'll add an observation that I expect few will admit to - pressure from all those who walked before to accomplish what not all can manage. 800kms is a mind-bender. I got a lot of love from folks I met in SDC who asked "How far did you walk?" The experience can be more than a little competitive. And beware competing with yourself. Humility is sometimes in short supply.

I'm expecting a lot of flack for that last paragraph, of course few might bother. Plainly, there's A LOT more to the whole experience than simply the competitive factor.

Mike
 

Aidan21

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to SDC 2013/14
SJPP to SDC 2016
Porto to SDC 2017
VdlP Sevilla/Salamanca 2018
What made the Camino a unique experience? What a question; a question I suspect with a different answer for each person who considers it. For me the Camino was unique because I did not decide to walk the Camino, it was more like the Camino decided I was to walk it. My 'decision' to walk it was taken within 2 minutes of first hearing of it and I never felt the slightest fear or trepidation. I was compelled to go by some hidden influence that I cannot quite articulate, but a very powerful and benign influence. I simply knew I was going; it was only a matter of time. When walking to SDC I met some people that had a deep and lasting impact on me. Perhaps that was part of the reason I had to go, it was part of my life's journey. Maybe even part of the journey of those I met. I found it a deeply fulfilling and profound experience.
Aidan
 

Meredith1

Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2012
... I was compelled to go by some hidden influence that I cannot quite articulate, but a very powerful and benign influence. I simply knew I was going; it was only a matter of time.

Yes - exactly my feeling prior to going in 2012. You've articulated pretty well, I think!
 

TMcA

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
The best thing I have ever read about the Camino experience is in French. But perhaps some will be able to read it or translate it.

Cette démarche est universelle: on la rencontre tout au long de l'histoire humaine, dans toutes les religions, sur tous les continents. Devenant un étranger, quittant son monde familier, perdant son statut social et ses références hiérarchiques, le pèlerin prend conscience de lui-même, de ses limites et apprend parfois à les dépasser.

Tout pèlerinage évoque notre marche sur terre vers le ciel. Il nous rappelle que sur terre, nous sommes de passage, en route vers notre demeure définitive, dans l'attente active de la rencontre et la communion éternelle avec Dieu.

Quelques richesses d'un pèlerinage à pied

1. Il s'agit d'une démarche de toute notre personne: corps et esprit.

2. Emportant l'essentiel sur le dos, on se désencombre de l'inutile, du superflu.

3. On goûte le silence, la paix et la beauté de la Création de Dieu.

4. La marche est une école de patience. Image de notre propre vie, il s'agit d'avancer jour après jour avec courage.

5. Les gestes simples de la vie prennent une autre saveur: boire, se laver, accueillir un sourire en chemin, etc. On y apprend aussi l'entraide: indiquer le chemin, partager la nourriture, etc.

6. Le pèlerinage est une école d'égalité: riche ou pauvre, savant ou non, il s'agit d'avancer patiemment et humblement.

7. Le pèlerinage donne la chance de rencontres profondes avec d'autres pèlerins ou avec des habitants des lieux traversés.

8. Le pèlerinage ouvre le coeur à Dieu: « Seigneur, je te donne du temps, je te fais de la place. Agis en moi, donne moi ta lumière ».

9. Le chemin donne le temps de prier, aidé par de nombreux lieux saints rencontrés (églises, sanctuaires); aidé aussi par le témoignage d'innombrables frères humains qui l'empruntent depuis plus de dix siècles.
 

AcrossTheWater3008

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances x 2 - 2016, 2017
C Portuguese x 2 2016, 2017
C Muxia/Finisterra x 2 2016, 17
CdM
Hi

I have often wondered myself, why I keep coming back to walk the Camino.... I like walking and do walking around London and parts of the UK too..... but, for me too, the Camino has a special attraction.

@DMG, you have also voiced some of my thoughts too.... I think, another issue I would add is that it is a companionship with yourself. I like to walk alone, and I think with this solo walking, one tends to become more self aware and develop more self knowledge. I think I have become a kinder person to both myself and others. I have developed patience and awareness of surroundings too. I guess one has to develop that awareness, esp if one is a solo walker.

The other thing I have found is a communion with the surrounding whilst walking on the Camino. Whilst walking I found myself being aware of the presence of a Being... and I find myself wrapped by that presence. I marvel at the beauty of the surrounding as well as the Presence cushioning and wrapping me in some protection. I like to think that this Presence is the spirit of my loved ones gone, or that of God.

And, as what @Mike Trebert says, the sense of achievement too, one gets, on getting to Santiago. I have experienced times when I wanted to give up whilst walking the Frances.... it was hot, uncomfortable and I missed home (in the beginning) and, recently, on the Portuguese when I was utterly drenched and frozen! And, although I walk alone, I like to meet up with others in the evenings ... on the Portuguese, I met only a few pilgrims to exchange a conversation. But, the Portuguese is special too..... I think places like Padron and Caldas de Reys are beautiful towns.

I am unsure if I make any sense here.....
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
On every camino there have been stretches which seemed to be in another world. Past were the hoards of camera-clicking tourists and/or pilgrims as well as any urbane atmosphere with a bar at every corner. All was reduced to simple basics; I was alone on a seemingly endless gravel path beneath the vast dome of an immense sky. The only sound was the companionable crunch of my boots and perhaps distant birdsong.

Happily for me while tramping along and alone I often sensed that special moment when everything 'clicked' realizing that this was, indeed, MY way and that all was and would be good. ...Perhaps such secular transcendence felt while walking might be akin to what runners call 'the zone'. Your body can handle the task while your spirit glows with the effort. Neither easy, nor impossible; all simply is. ...Thankful to have sensed this during the past years I sincerely hope to feel it once again in the future.
 

Dennis D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés - 2014
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2016
Francés - 2017
Francés - 2018
Francés - 2019
(2020 - ?)

To do it, I had to step away from my normal day-to-day life and out of my comfort zone, which liberated me from the familiar and helped open me to new possibilities.

The Camino became my comfort zone. When I am at home I find myself needing to walk most every day, rain or shine counting the days until I return.

The Camino became a very positive addiction and I have no regrets. By the time I walk into Santiago, I have already started planning my next trip. I would do it twice a year if I could. It keeps this 74 year old heart of mine young.

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy (2010; 2016), Norte, Primitivo, Muxia/Fisterra (2010), Mozarabe, Via de la Plata, Sanabres (2011), Arles, Aragones, Frances (2015)
The best thing I have ever read about the Camino experience is in French. But perhaps some will be able to read it or translate it.

Cette démarche est universelle: on la rencontre tout au long de l'histoire humaine, dans toutes les religions, sur tous les continents. Devenant un étranger, quittant son monde familier, perdant son statut social et ses références hiérarchiques, le pèlerin prend conscience de lui-même, de ses limites et apprend parfois à les dépasser.

Tout pèlerinage évoque notre marche sur terre vers le ciel. Il nous rappelle que sur terre, nous sommes de passage, en route vers notre demeure définitive, dans l'attente active de la rencontre et la communion éternelle avec Dieu.

Quelques richesses d'un pèlerinage à pied

1. Il s'agit d'une démarche de toute notre personne: corps et esprit.
2. Emportant l'essentiel sur le dos, on se désencombre de l'inutile, du superflu.
3. On goûte le silence, la paix et la beauté de la Création de Dieu.
4. La marche est une école de patience. Image de notre propre vie, il s'agit d'avancer jour après jour avec courage.
5. Les gestes simples de la vie prennent une autre saveur: boire, se laver, accueillir un sourire en chemin, etc. On y apprend aussi l'entraide: indiquer le chemin, partager la nourriture, etc.
6. Le pèlerinage est une école d'égalité: riche ou pauvre, savant ou non, il s'agit d'avancer patiemment et humblement.
7. Le pèlerinage donne la chance de rencontres profondes avec d'autres pèlerins ou avec des habitants des lieux traversés.
8. Le pèlerinage ouvre le coeur à Dieu: « Seigneur, je te donne du temps, je te fais de la place. Agis en moi, donne moi ta lumière ».
9. Le chemin donne le temps de prier, aidé par de nombreux lieux saints rencontrés (églises, sanctuaires); aidé aussi par le témoignage d'innombrables frères humains qui l'empruntent depuis plus de dix siècles.
This process is a universal one: one finds it all along the history of mankind, in every religion, on every continent. By becoming a stranger, leaving his known world, losing his social status and his hierarchical references, the pilgim becomes aware of himself, of his limitations and sometimes learns to overcome them.

Any pilgrimage reminds of our walk on Earth, toward Heaven. It reminds us that we are passengers on Earth, going to our definitive home, actively waiting to meet God and experience eternal communion with Him.

Here are some of the richness of a pilgimage by foot:
1. This is a process that concerns our person as whole: body and mind/spirit [note: "esprit" can mean both]
2. As you only carries what is essential on your back, you leave aside what is useless and unnecessary
3. You experience silence, peace and the beauty of God's Creation
4. Walking is experiencing patience. As a reflection of our own life, we are meant to go on day after day with courage
5. Daily casual actions reveal a new depth: drinking, washing, receiving a smile on the way, etc. You also learn to help each other: point the way, share food, etc.
6. A pilgrimage is experiencing equality: wealthy or poor, scholar or not, it's all about moving on with patience and humility
7. A pilgrimage is an opportunity to meet other pilgrims or local people in a deeper level of relationship
8. A pilgrimage opens your heart to God: "Lord, I give You time, I make room for You. Act within me, give me Your light"
9. The way leaves time to pray, which is made easier by the many holy places you come across (churches, sanctuaries); also by the testimonies of the countless human brothers who traveled it for more than 10 centuries.


 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy (2010; 2016), Norte, Primitivo, Muxia/Fisterra (2010), Mozarabe, Via de la Plata, Sanabres (2011), Arles, Aragones, Frances (2015)
For one, the Camino is a retreat to me. Going and reaching Santiago.
Living the simplest and truest life in the World; being open and in connection with "This".
Experiencing a balance between the material and spiritual realms of reality, which boundaries fade away. Matter transcended and spirituality incarnated at the same time.
Listening to and living by the voice of "This" and the heart. Living of Love, Peace, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude.

Then, the Camino also continues after Santiago. Returning to "normal" life.
Living in the World, with all its requirements, challenges and twists; remaining open and in connection with "This".
Doing my best to find the most perfect balance I can between the material and spiritual realms of the "normal life" reality. Remembering that matter makes sense through spirituality and that spirituality needs incarnation for now.
Doing my homework and practicing. Doing my best to hear the voice of "This" and of my heart through the rumble of our World, follow their directions. Doing my best to live of Love, Peace, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude.

So I think this is what's special about the Camino: it enhances the fact that I'm slowly making my whole normal life a Camino and helps me to get there...


 

DMG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés May-June 2016
Thanks Marion for the translation.
 

rometimed

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP: May/June 2015; English Route Nov 2015; Lycian Way Oct 2015; Coast to Coast Aug/Sep 2015; West Highland Way July 2015; Hadrians Wall June 2015; Westweg Jul/Aug 2015..... ..... .... ... .. . SJPdP May/June 2020; A Coruna 2020... ... .. . SJPdP May/June 2025... .. . SJPdP May/June 2030... .. . SJPdP May/June 2035... .. .
Well I did the Camino Frances and later the Camino Inglise as part of a series of walks in Europe totaling 3800 KMs over 6 months.

The number 1 thing was the experience of diving head first into something so great. I know there's a lot of people who do huge walks, but it's actually rare as a total of the whole. So ya I may know a person who knows someone who has done the Camino or part of it but it is still a rarity.

Second I would say was the fellow pilgrims. On the Frances in particular it was such a mix.... and I met so many incredible humans, many of which I still keepin contact with 16 months later.

Third is the allure and history of the different parts of Spain. I love history and Spain is rich with it.

Fourth is the Spanish people who are so gracious and patient with Pellegrinos (usually).

Five is just an odd spiritual feeling like everything I did was supposed to be that way. Hopefully i'm not the only one but everything just felt correct. Not expected, but correct.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
You all speak very well. Greetings from an old peregrino with many Caminos under his belt, and a new one in the planning. I perfectly understand what you all are talking about/expressing. The Camino is a Liberator of us human kind.
 
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Koidream

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès 2012
Camino Finisterre 2012
What is special about the Camino? Nothing...
You are special on the Camino.
 
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Djimbo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Leon to Santiago in Sept.- Oct. (2016)
...solo, and again in 2019 with my wife.
Leon to Santiago de Compostela Sept./Oct. 2016. It's impossible to summarize my Camino at this point...so much to chew on, and it will take me a long time to really digest the whole experience. But, this being the anniversary of my natal day, my 74th trip around the sun, I'll give you a bit of what I've got so far.

While it was not, by any means, a religious pilgrimage for me, it was most undeniably a spiritual journey. With the passing of my mum last march, and with the debilitating health issues of my best mate, who was to have walked with me this year, I had a sharper view of my own mortality, and so, dedicating my Camino to them, I put my mind to stepping out of my comfort zone, and into the world in a completely different context. I resolved to learn something new... even a little something...each day, and to be open and up for the unexpected and the unusual.

I learned that I can do more than I thought I could, and that it is possible to just (sort of) power through many challenges. I discovered that after a hard daily trek, having a shower and doing some hand laundry, and having a bit of a meal and simple conversation... and a couple of laughs... with strangers, it is possible to be reborn...every day! I learned that I value and enjoy the aloneness of being in my own head, and on a path where I see no-one in front of me, or behind me for miles and miles, hearing only the birds and my own footsteps. I also value and enjoy the making of new friends on a daily basis. Pilgrims and hospitaleros that I met were bright spots and way markers on my Camino like the yellow arrows and scallop shells that showed directions. And I found that I always walked farther and faster, and barely noticed difficulties when in the company of others. And, like many others, I felt a most profound sense of community at La Cruz de Ferro.

And I learned that, even with ADHD, I can actually be organized enough to actually do things without a list...like packing my backpack in the dark and being on the path before sunup, day after day. One of my rewards was to cast such a long shadow on the landscape.

EVERY DAY ON THE CAMINO I CAN HONESTLY SAY I WAS TRULY HAPPY...WELL CHUFFED!!

It was a unique experience and a wonderful way to be in the world. So often, this precious place is just a blur outside a car or train window, or simply unseen below the clouds from an airplane. The Camino De Santiago was a slow, tactile and gratifying opportunity to be a part of the world, and I shall savor it for the rest of my days. There is another in my not too distant future.

A few quotes come to mind...
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
......Mark Twain

And here are a couple from Jean Cocteau;
"Since the day of my birth, my death began it's walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying."

"Here I am, trying to live, or rather, I am trying to teach the death within me how to live."
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Hi DMG,

I think you've answered your own question well. I'll add an observation that I expect few will admit to - pressure from all those who walked before to accomplish what not all can manage. 800kms is a mind-bender. I got a lot of love from folks I met in SDC who asked "How far did you walk?" The experience can be more than a little competitive. And beware competing with yourself. Humility is sometimes in short supply.

I'm expecting a lot of flack for that last paragraph, of course few might bother. Plainly, there's A LOT more to the whole experience than simply the competitive factor.

Mike
Mike, the distance you walk is only up to you and what sort of punishment you want inflict upon yourself and in what you believe, when ever I ended a camino and I present myself to where James which is one of the 12 Apostle, lay and embrace for a few second his bust at the back of the altar and pay him my respect ; then I feel all the pain and frustration of the journey and tears comes to my eyes, but only because I have accomplished something in which for my believe was right to do.
Merry Christmas and buen camino to every one of you peregrinos.:)
 

DMG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés May-June 2016
These are heart-felt responses. They’re thought-provoking. I read them as they came in and have just gone through them again. I’ve summarized below some of the key points from them, partly to acknowledge the contributors, but also to help me make some coherent sense of them.
  • Mike characterizes the CF as a mind-bender. That it is! And not just from a physical point of view, as Djimbo highlights. Koidream’s comment that “You are special on the Camino” applies for sure, and Bob Hummel's note suggests the anticipation (and perhaps a little trepidation) that comes with the prospect of stepping out onto the Camino for the first time.
  • Aidan’s, Meredith’s, Dennis’s and Ernesto’s comments reflect the Camino’s mystical quality, that compelling attraction of our spirit to the Camino experience, that it just seems ‘right’ to do it. alexwalker’s remark about the Camino being “a Liberator of us human kind” suggests an outcome of us giving free rein to that compulsion (as does Mark with the simple acknowledgement that the Camino just makes him happy).
  • TMcA’s contribution distils some of the essence of a pilgrimage.
  • AcrossTheWater3008 notes the rewards of being with yourself – “a companionship with yourself”, in her words (which is certainly different from being by yourself) – and a ‘being at one’ with the surroundings.
  • mspath brings forth the idea of the Camino existence or experience being ‘beyond the normal or physical level’ i.e. transcendent.
  • Marion’s reflections stimulate thoughts about life beyond the Camino, about integrating the Camino experience into our daily post-Camino lives.
  • rometimed reminds us of the sense of history that accompanies us on the Camino, and the contributions the locals make to our lives as we pass through theirs and by implication our mutual dependence.
At this stage, I think my take-outs are that pilgrimage is a universal concept, that it’s a metaphor for life’s journey and that engaging in a Camino helps us on that journey.

Some extracts from Stephanie Dale’s website:
  • “Pilgrimage is the art of ancient travel. Pilgrimage harks back to forever, when human beings set out on journeys from which they might not return, journeys they knew would transform the rest of their lives – journeys that were worth every risk because, live or die, to deny the call was to close the door on life and that meant certain death anyway: death to the spirit.”
  • “Pilgrimage is a subpoena from the heart that defies all common sense. It is a mistake to attempt to rationalize the irrational – and an even bigger mistake to attempt to justify your decision to set forth to those around you …”
  • “The pilgrim is not unlike a comet, burning off all that is futile and unnecessary until what is left is the essential, unmalleable core. The pilgrim walks the Earth, walks the wheel, walks the turning seasons, surrendering all of who she is and all she thinks she knows and all she think she wants to the road and the weather …”
  • “Pilgrims are those who embark on journeys of endurance and, in the end, these journeys ask nothing more from us than to keep going. Crazy as we look from the outside, we are honouring the call of the human spirit – our collective yearning for transformation – and, in so doing, we do it for everyone.”
Before I started my Camino, I read Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage. I didn’t really enjoy it – a little too esoteric for me – but I persisted to its end because I felt it was almost a prerequisite text for the Camino, in the same way as college courses have prerequisite readings. I was disappointed it worked out like that for me, but that’s how books are sometimes – what works for one doesn’t work for another. Anyway, before I departed for Spain I chanced upon a Krista Tippett interview with Paulo Coelho, The Alchemy of Pilgrimage. I downloaded the podcast [0:51] and took it with me on the Camino, listening to it one evening after I arrived in Pamplona. I loved it! It’s grounded. And it changed how I thought about Coelho, his book and particularly about pilgrimage. I listened to it again this morning and I can commend it.

The journey continues!
 

Oregon's Mark

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May, 2017; return, leaving SJPP May 24, 2018, Frances #3 in May-June, 2019
The Camino became my comfort zone. When I am at home I find myself needing to walk most every day, rain or shine counting the days until I return.

The Camino became a very positive addiction and I have no regrets. By the time I walk into Santiago, I have already started planning my next trip. I would do it twice a year if I could. It keeps this 74 year old heart of mine young.

Buen Camino
Yea for 74 year olds! I plan to celebrate my 75th, next June, with the new friends I meet on the Camino. Can't wait.
 

Elizabeth Cheung

Existential Sherpa
Camino(s) past & future
Let's just say I've been around ;-)
Well I did the Camino Frances and later the Camino Inglise as part of a series of walks in Europe totaling 3800 KMs over 6 months.

The number 1 thing was the experience of diving head first into something so great. I know there's a lot of people who do huge walks, but it's actually rare as a total of the whole. So ya I may know a person who knows someone who has done the Camino or part of it but it is still a rarity.

Second I would say was the fellow pilgrims. On the Frances in particular it was such a mix.... and I met so many incredible humans, many of which I still keepin contact with 16 months later.

Third is the allure and history of the different parts of Spain. I love history and Spain is rich with it.

Fourth is the Spanish people who are so gracious and patient with Pellegrinos (usually).

Five is just an odd spiritual feeling like everything I did was supposed to be that way. Hopefully i'm not the only one but everything just felt correct. Not expected, but correct.

I love you did an Epic walk! I want do the same thing. Can I ask what routes you did?
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
These are heart-felt responses. They’re thought-provoking. I read them as they came in and have just gone through them again. I’ve summarized below some of the key points from them, partly to acknowledge the contributors, but also to help me make some coherent sense of them.
  • Mike characterizes the CF as a mind-bender. That it is! And not just from a physical point of view, as Djimbo highlights. Koidream’s comment that “You are special on the Camino” applies for sure, and Bob Hummel's note suggests the anticipation (and perhaps a little trepidation) that comes with the prospect of stepping out onto the Camino for the first time.
  • Aidan’s, Meredith’s, Dennis’s and Ernesto’s comments reflect the Camino’s mystical quality, that compelling attraction of our spirit to the Camino experience, that it just seems ‘right’ to do it. alexwalker’s remark about the Camino being “a Liberator of us human kind” suggests an outcome of us giving free rein to that compulsion (as does Mark with the simple acknowledgement that the Camino just makes him happy).
  • TMcA’s contribution distils some of the essence of a pilgrimage.
  • AcrossTheWater3008 notes the rewards of being with yourself – “a companionship with yourself”, in her words (which is certainly different from being by yourself) – and a ‘being at one’ with the surroundings.
  • mspath brings forth the idea of the Camino existence or experience being ‘beyond the normal or physical level’ i.e. transcendent.
  • Marion’s reflections stimulate thoughts about life beyond the Camino, about integrating the Camino experience into our daily post-Camino lives.
  • rometimed reminds us of the sense of history that accompanies us on the Camino, and the contributions the locals make to our lives as we pass through theirs and by implication our mutual dependence.
At this stage, I think my take-outs are that pilgrimage is a universal concept, that it’s a metaphor for life’s journey and that engaging in a Camino helps us on that journey.

Some extracts from Stephanie Dale’s website:
  • “Pilgrimage is the art of ancient travel. Pilgrimage harks back to forever, when human beings set out on journeys from which they might not return, journeys they knew would transform the rest of their lives – journeys that were worth every risk because, live or die, to deny the call was to close the door on life and that meant certain death anyway: death to the spirit.”
  • “Pilgrimage is a subpoena from the heart that defies all common sense. It is a mistake to attempt to rationalize the irrational – and an even bigger mistake to attempt to justify your decision to set forth to those around you …”
  • “The pilgrim is not unlike a comet, burning off all that is futile and unnecessary until what is left is the essential, unmalleable core. The pilgrim walks the Earth, walks the wheel, walks the turning seasons, surrendering all of who she is and all she thinks she knows and all she think she wants to the road and the weather …”
  • “Pilgrims are those who embark on journeys of endurance and, in the end, these journeys ask nothing more from us than to keep going. Crazy as we look from the outside, we are honouring the call of the human spirit – our collective yearning for transformation – and, in so doing, we do it for everyone.”
Before I started my Camino, I read Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage. I didn’t really enjoy it – a little too esoteric for me – but I persisted to its end because I felt it was almost a prerequisite text for the Camino, in the same way as college courses have prerequisite readings. I was disappointed it worked out like that for me, but that’s how books are sometimes – what works for one doesn’t work for another. Anyway, before I departed for Spain I chanced upon a Krista Tippett interview with Paulo Coelho, The Alchemy of Pilgrimage. I downloaded the podcast [0:51] and took it with me on the Camino, listening to it one evening after I arrived in Pamplona. I loved it! It’s grounded. And it changed how I thought about Coelho, his book and particularly about pilgrimage. I listened to it again this morning and I can commend it.

The journey continues!
Hi DMG, from what I make out, from my output you remarked on the "right to do it" phrase; just because you think it, does mean you "got to do it".
I am not a man of letters and English is not my mother language and for that reason complicate to explain my concept on the matter but I will try.
I was born in a Catholic family and sin the early age I have been indoctrinate in that direction ( like I suppose all different religion do ), I was made aware of the importance of Jesus and the 12 Apostles with all the story that went with it.
About 15 years ago I watched a documentary on Santiago de Compostela and although I have non't been practising my faith for now quite a few years (after been disillusion by different priest), the fact that I had a chance to pay my respect to one of the 12 and having a chance to do it, set me up for all the caminos I have done, never mind if while doing them each time i'm telling myself " what I'm doing here?".
For next year is going to be a bit longer pilgrimage, from Proceno to Rome, because I like to have the roman equivalent of the Compostela, having done the 150 Km required, then up via the francigena way reach mount Montgenevre ito France down and up to SJPD and for the third time the French camino and for the sixt time Fisterre, Muxia, it should take (hopefully) 100/110 days and they should be around 3300 Km (all God willing).
Try to understand, I don't put the distances down to impress people but so every body else can take advantage and work out they future Camino.
This is my choice and my foolish idea of going from the tomb of San Peter in Rome to the one of San James in Santiago de Compostela carrying
the regard of SP to SJ as they ( I believe) knew each other.
During all this walking, yes passing through the various towns and villages I admire all the surrounding beauty but all that is not the purpose of my pilgrimage, in future if I want to visit any place that particularly impressed me, I then would go back another time; in practical I 'm like a horse with blinkers.
If nothing of what I have written make sense I'm sorry but that's all I can do.
Buen Camino
Ernesto
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
DMG,
I found the unmasked naked itimacy a shocker. Nice, but shocking. Due to shared dorms, showers, etc, within days you know who snores, who may be suffering terrible life changes, who is simply walking for pleasure, and others discover these things about you. The immediate intimacy is overwhelming, yet I have returned again and again and will do so 2017, in part to drop my mask and just be.
 

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