|Susan & I beginning the journey|
It's said that the Camino journey continues even when you've finished walking the path. Perhaps that was the whole theme behind the movie, The Way. A few days after walking the Camino, my friend Susan Auman and I re-watched the movie together. Have you had that goose-bump feeling of watching a film and remembering the places you've visited? That was our experience as we watched the film a second time. I have been hesitant to write this blog summarizing my Spain adventure. I can't find all the words I would like to use to tell you about it. People ask me and I find myself stuttering, smiling, shrugging. The feelings are still here with me and we came off the path over a month ago and to be honest, I don't want the feelings to go away. I’m thoroughly enjoying being in a state of awe and wonder and gratitude.
|Roads Scholar Camino Tribe, May 2017|
I attempted to share a bit of our trip on the local Camino blog site in case someone else was interested in going with Roads Scholar but the conversation quickly turned to how much more it cost to go with a tour than it would cost to go on one’s own. I don't think the people who commented had a clue; I don't believe I would have ever gone “on my own.” I almost didn't go with the group. Yes, it cost more than a solo hike but for me, it was worth the expense. I had many moments beforehand of wondering what the heck I had signed up for. We walked 60 miles in 10 days. We walked up mountains, through forests, through small villages and in the rain and through the mud. We didn't get a certificate and we had a lot of guidance, thank God! But I left with a wonderful sense of accomplishment and an amazing storehouse full of memories that will last me a life-time.
One of the many highlights was when we attended the pilgrims’ mass on our first day in Santiago. We had just finished a guided tour and we were told that the swinging of the incense, the Botafumeiro, was only done periodically and no one knew when that would happen. I know I was very disappointed by that news and so was Susan. We decided to get to the mass early so we were assured of a seat. When we arrived there was a special ceremony going on and we were delayed admission. Finally, they let us into the church and as we began to take our seat, five robed men moved into the center of the sanctuary and filled the Botafumeiro with incense and began the swinging. If you've ever seen this done, you will know how goose-bumpy it is. It moved me to tears. Then the mass began and when it ended they again swung the Botafumeiro. Twice! We experienced this rare, unique blessing twice in one day. We then discovered it was the one-hundredth anniversary of the miracle of Lourdes and not only did they honor it with the incense swinging but with a procession through the streets honoring the Virgin Mary.
Other highlights included stopping at several churches along the way where we were blessed by the local priests and in one of the churches, a visiting Italian choir broke out in melodic song but for me, the most moving event took place, once again in Santiago. After the pilgrims’ mass, one of my fellow walkers shared with me that she had just come back into the Catholic church. Her adult son had died with ALS and before he died he had asked her to return to the church but she hadn't felt moved to do so until she walked into Saint James Cathedral in Santiago de Compestella. She had actually gone to confession there (the priest didn't speak English, so he took out a little book of “sins” and had her point to the ones for which she wanted forgiveness) and she had received communion. She glowed from her experience and I glowed with the honor of her sharing with me her amazing act of courage. These are just a few of my favorite memories. Of course I kept a journal and if I were to share all the highlights, I'd have a book written, not just one of my longest blogs.
I'd tell anyone who had this opportunity to grab it and go. Don't miss this pilgrimage. I think it's life-changing. I know it's been life changing for me and I've only been off the path a very short time. How, you may ask?
|The Rosaries in Finisterra|
The journey didn't end in Spain. The journey hasn't ended yet. The first Camino synchronicity that took place was about a week later when I arrived at my daughter's home in London. When I had visited her in March I walked to mass at the local church as is my practice. As I was leaving mass a very nice lady introduced herself and proceeded to walk along next to me. She was very gracious and said the next time I was in London, perhaps I'd like to come to her home for tea; she lived close by. I contacted her when I arrived at my daughter's and made arrangements to meet up. I mentioned in my email that I had just come off the Camino. As we walked along, I asked her if she'd ever walked the Camino. “I have walked the Camino for three weeks every year for the last eighteen years.” I had goose-bumps. When we arrived at her home, she had all the original tour books for the path, before one had access to cell phones or computers. She had them in English, German and French. She also had a walking stick engraved with El Camino. My new friend worked for the non-profit, L'Arche. An organization that helped mentally disabled adults transition to independent living. It's a world-wide organization. She then went on to tell me she had two American Gurus, Richard Rohr and Marshall Rosenberg. As you may already know, Richard Rohr is someone I follow very closely. He's appeared in my writing quite a bit. I didn't know about M. Rosenberg but I downloaded one of his books and read it on my eight hour flight home. He is the developer of the Non Violent Communication process. If that wasn't enough of a synchronicity, when we went to a communication session to help our grandson, one of the five recommended books was….you probably guessed it, Marshall Rosenberg’s NVC.
I now carried a vision of the Camino path continuing along mosaic stepping stones. Where would the next stepping stone be found? Many months before I left for Spain, I had a trusted friend tell me about a local woman, Sherrie Dillard, who might offer some spiritual guidance. My appointment with Sherrie was the week after I came home from Europe. During my visit she told me it appeared I would be presented with an “opportunity “ sometime in the coming fall, a very intriguing prediction! Was this another mosaic stepping stone? Would I only know them after I had walked on them?
The very next day after visiting Sherrie, I was invited to attend a Soul Collage workshop. Over the years, I had done a lot of collaging. Our yoga-off-the-mat art activity at our annual Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat (.org) has often focused on meaningful art work, many of our projects were guided to help us create wonderful memorable pieces. This workshop, however, took this art form to a whole different level. It was designed to help one tap into those innermost places that are usually well hidden from ourselves. When my two collage cards were complete, I noticed one part of one of the cards had a picture of a stone pathway. The woman, Becky Hambrick, who led the workshop was certified in this process and was also a spiritual director. She mentioned she trained at the Hayden Institute in North Carolina. I invited her to dinner. I was very interested.
I’d seen Sister Judy Hallock at A Place for Women to Gather over the years for spiritual direction and I had a few friends who were also certified in this field. I'd looked into the certification several times but the programs and the timing were never right. I decided I’d take a few baby steps and see where this path might lead.