On May 22nd, 2008…One year and one day after losing Michael…I flew to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago aka the Way of St. James.
I’d like to say I learned about it while reading some amazing literature or while speaking with a world explorer. But, no. I was on one of my widow couch and tv binges, sadly watching some made for tv movie with Joshua Jackson (Pacey). During the last scene, he pulls out some map, oddly finds the perfect walking stick, kisses his Spanish lover goodbye, calls his job in the US and quits, and the only thing with any guidance on me understanding remotely what the heck he was doing, was the map being titled “Camino de Santiago”.
That last scene struck something in me and I immediately GOOGLED it.
4 months later I’d be on that flight to Spain. 16 days, 225 miles, a backpack, one pair pf shoes, two sets of clothes (including the one on my back), a sheet set, and some money in hand
After researching it, I found out it had become somewhat of a “spiritual” journey for those who ventured out on its multiple terrains. You see, the camino is a pilgrimage that in the past was walked as a form of penance, but overtime had warped into what is today with today’s modern pilgrims. Its route is maarked through mountains, vineyards, barren desserts, by a scalloped shell…believed to represent the unique grooves that a shell has, all leading to one point, as a way of showing we all take different routes but arrive where we need to. The whole key though, through my readings, is that one must be willing to place faith in the walk to receive out of it what they need.
Faith? To say I was lacking in that area would be an understatement…but just like Michael joined the military to feel challenged…I felt I needed to do so, too, to survive.
Some people would literally take the camino with no money, food, or direction, but they’d always get just what they needed to make it another day closer to Santiago.
I knew the walk would not only be challenging physically, but mentally, more than anything. To be left with nothing but my thoughts and feelings to sift through (no phones, computers or mp3s in sight), every moment of the day, would be my biggest obstacle.
Day after day of the walk, I felt lighter and lighter (though the bag on my back felt heavier and heavier), as I started to just let go. Let go of my fears of the unknown on that path and in my life. Let go of the fear that I’d forget Michael if I didn’t have our material things nearby. Let go of this need to just basically need to know what the future held, as that very step I was taking would take me where I needed. Let go of the pain, as it was heavier than a bag full of rocks, and fogged my mind of my final destination…my goal at sight.
That walk changed my life.
It dictates all I do, in just reminding me that if I have faith in the journey, everything I need will come to me…not all at once or as obvious as a blinking sign, but in subtle nuances that push me enough to take one more step…to live one more day. It taught me to set expectations, but the right kind. It’s allowed me to have faith once more.
This week has been one where I’ve felt down and out on how others are doing certain things, that make me feel as if I have to change how things are done, simply so I won’t feel them on my coat tails…but alas, the way has shown itself in its elusive messages, I just had to be open enough to read, reminding me to just be me and keep walking my walk…
and I’m POSITIVE it will take me where I need to go.
“Buen Camino”, my friends.
“Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.”-Kahlil Gibran