I recently had an opportunity to travel the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (or at least a portion of it) in Spain. It was a truly wonderful experience physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I learned about myself, my faith, and other people along the way. Pilgrims, myself included, shared stories and made friends in a unique environment that I do not believe can be understood in any other context. If you are looking for something whether that means within yourself, a connection to something bigger, or specifically a greater connection with God – I recommend the Camino. I recommend pilgrimage in general, but I found the Camino to be particularly meaningful, so I recommend it especially.
The Camino is “the Way” or “the Road” depending on who is translating from the Spanish to English. For the purpose of this post either translation will do. While travelling the Camino, you will notice right away that you are most frequently in the rural countryside. Cows, sheep, and various assortments of other livestock are an almost constant presence. These animals are moved about and that moving, for whatever needed reasons, put the animals on the road fairly frequently. That means that these animals let go of what they may have eaten earlier in the day or the day before onto the road equally often. As a person travelling the Camino, you ended up seeing the end result of grass having been expelled post-digestion on the Road – in the Way – on the Camino – every single day. Some is old and dry while some is still steaming and it helps your sinuses clear quickly.
As you should imagine while reading this – the result is you watch where you step. The reality is you pick where you step every time you take a step. When looking at the road covered with piles of waste dotting the way you make a very distinct choice. Do I step around? Do I step over? Or, Do I step in? The bottom-line is that every day there will be $hi+ in the road, but you get to pick whether or not it will soon be covering your shoes. The choice is pretty clear and is easy to make. Nobody wants that on their shoes – step over or step around but DO NOT step in.
At some point, every pilgrim gets to the end of the journey. It may be Santiago de Compostela. It may be Finistere or Muxia for those who have travelled the Camino but who are not ready to go home. It could be any myriad of places based on where you have gone to find what it is you are looking for. No matter where it ends, the day comes when you must go home. When you get home you realize a fact that is comforting and discomforting at the same time – you are still on some form of a journey. Likewise, every day there is $hi+ in the road. Something that is an obstacle, something that is a distraction, something you don’t want to step in and get on your shoes (or worse). The problem is these piles of $hi+ are not fresh and steaming and clearing your sinuses with their pungent scent. Sometimes they are heard to recognize for what they are. You must be aware. You must be discerning. You must be observant. In order to not get your shoes (or worse) messed up.
My fellow pilgrim in life – my prayer for you is that you may always see what is before you and make the clear choice to step over or around but never in whatever $hi+ is on your road.