Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why Walk the Camino?

On the night before we walked the Camino Frances in 2013 we gathered in the dining room of our pilgrim hostel, L'Esprit du Chemin (pictured above) in St Jean Pied de Port. There was a wonderful conviviality as we enjoyed wine and olives before dinner. We were welcomed by our hosts, Arno and Huberta, and then Huberta said, "I have an imaginary ball of wool. I am going to throw it to someone and before you throw it to someone else, you have to tell us your name, where you are from and why you are walking the Camino."

What a night! A German woman said she had just lost her job and she was doing the Camino to think about the next chapter of her life. Two Dutch brothers in their seventies said that they had lots of illness in their family and they were making this a walk of prayer. They had some stones to lay on La Cruz de Ferro, (pictured below), a tradition in which pilgrims often write the name of a person on a stone and they place it under this huge iron cross as they offer a prayer. One person said he was not doing it for any religious reasons. Every person had a different reason for their walk.

When we introduced ourselves we said that we enjoyed walking, a pilgrimage seemed one of the slowest forms of travel and that for many years we had been captivated by the idea of walking a camino. We hoped that as we walked we would discover more about the reasons why we were doing the Camino Frances.

As we look to walk the Camino Le Puy this year, we are confronted afresh by the question: "Why walk the Camino?"

A fascinating article this month on the BBC website entitled, 'The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking', informs us that May is Walking Month, that walking brings holistic benefits and that many of the great novelists found that walking is a wonderful aid to creativity.

For us it is our annual marriage enrichment and a time to be unplugged from our work and familiar surroundings. Leaving home, going light and being immersed in a new environment gives us some distance on our lives and the hope of gaining some fresh perspectives.

Seasoned pilgrim, Lucy Ridsdale, defines a pilgrimage as 'a long journey on foot undertaken with spiritual intent'. Hopefully this long journey on foot will give us a total workout-physically, mentally and spiritually.

Geoff & Lyn Pound

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