I know that this is not currently a Camino blog but there is something about the Camino which will not let you go. The four days I have spent in the company of dear Camino friends has brought to me deep memories and reactions of what the Camino has given me. I was reminded in one of our discussions of the profound saying about the Camino. “The Camino does not give you what you are looking for, it gives you what you need.”
We had a deep discussion about what the Camino gave each of us. Some gifts were physical, some spiritual, others intellectual but through all the stories we accepted that we are still realizing its effects on us. We accept that there may still be lessons we have not yet realized There are many experiences in life where the most important lessons do not immediately identify themselves.
My first Camino in 2015 was an adventure that I was drawn to over many years. I was interested in the physical challenge of course. I was also fascinated by how the act of walking along a 500 mile trail with thousands of pilgrims from hundreds of cultures over a millennium changed the world. I imagined the effects on a German, an Irishman, and a Swede and how they were effected by each other’s vastly different cultures, dress, food, and appearance as they walked through Arab controlled Spain. They absorbed those observations and returned home unable to unsee them.
I was also personally curious about how I would do being alone. As one of a family of 9 who grew up with one bathroom, who entered West Point immediately after high school and had multiple room mates for four years and then married right out of college I was curious how I would handle long walks alone. I knew no one and even though I was meeting people, I was alone most of the time with my thoughts. Since that time, the gift that the Camino gave me has become clear.
I my very personal case, the loss that I suffered over a year ago has had me in a long search for myself, after being one of a couple, a piece of something wonderful, I found myself unsure of who I am, what I want and need. Wondering how can I go on without her advice and counsel. Her approval.
I have come to the realization that the gift I was given by walking the Camino in 2015 was the knowledge and confidence that I will be okay alone, that I can do this. Of course it will still be hard and I will always miss her but I know I can do it.
The gift I got from the Camino was me.